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Owo attack: Reps ask FG to declare state of emergency on Ondo forest reserves

Owo attack: Reps ask FG to declare state of emergency on Ondo forest reserves
June 16
23:28 2022

The house of representatives has asked the federal government to declare a state of emergency on all forest reserves in Owo/Ose federal constituency of Ondo state.

According to the lawmakers, this will enable security operatives to “comb and fish out the perpetrators” of a recent attack on a church.

The resolution was passed during plenary session on Thursday following the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Adelegbe Oluwatimehin, a legislator from Ondo.

The resolution of the green chamber comes about 24 hours after the senate asked security agencies to deploy drones and helicopters to monitor forests and ungoverned areas in the country.

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Gunmen had, on June 5, attacked St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo state, killing about 40 persons while many others sustained injuries. 

While moving his motion, the legislator chronicled similar attacks which, he said, had occurred in the state.

“A similar attack was carried out on Molege community within Ose LGA of the state at midnight of Thursday, the 6th day of January, 2022, where farmlands and houses were set ablaze and three persons were also killed,” he said.

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“On Sunday, 23rd day of January, 2022, in the dead of the night, there was a deadly attack carried out on Okeluse community of Ose LGA of the state, also by gunmen.”

He added that three persons died in the attack in Okeluse community, while in November 2021, “a group of herdsmen killed the Olufon of Ifon in Ose LGA, Oba Israel Adewusi, of blessed memory”.

The lawmaker said if drastic security measures are not put in place, “similar attacks will continue to be carried out by the perpetrators until many communities are completely wiped out in the LGA and other parts of my constituency”.

The motion was adopted when it was put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.

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Following that, the house asked the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide relief items to the victims’ families to alleviate their suffering.

ARE ONDO FORESTS RESERVES REFUGE FOR GUNMEN? 

In January 2021, Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo, had ordered herders to vacate the forest reserves in the state.

At the time, the governor based his decision on the state of insecurity in the state, saying “bad elements” have turned the forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.

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“All forest reserves in the state are to be vacated by herdsmen within the next seven days with effect from today, Monday 18th January, 2021,” Akeredolu had said.

“Night-grazing is banned with immediate effect because most farm destruction takes place at night.”

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“Movement of cattle within cities and highways is prohibited. Under-aged grazing of cattle is outlawed.

“Our resolution to guarantee safety of lives and property within the state shall remain utmost as security agencies have been directed to enforce the ban.

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“In its usual magnanimity, our administration will give a grace period of seven days for those who wish to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities.”

The decision of the governor sparked varied reaction, while several northern groups demanded that he rescind the decision.

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