Reports that some herders, acting as vigilante, are mounting road blocks and checkpoints in parts of Ondo State is raising concern within the Ondo State Government.
Reactions have followed a facebook post by legal practitioner and activist, Kayode Ajulo, who said he noticed some of the persons alleged to be members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, armed and mounting road blocks.
“They (herders) are already mounting highways with guns openly doing ‘security work’ and they have direct phone lines with the neighbouring police stations confirming they are legitimate,” Mr Ajulo wrote in his post.
“A few days ago, I condemned the mounting of roadblocks in the South-east by these Fulani vigilante. Unknown to me, they are already in the South-west. They even showed me their identity cards.”
However, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Donald Ojogo, in a statement on Monday, said the government was not aware of anything of such.
But he said the government had ordered the arrest of unauthorised persons involved in security operations in the state.
“The Ondo State Government observes with concern trending pictures of an identity card carrying men identified as Fulani vigilante in the Akoko area of the state,” Mr Ojogo said
“Various claims have been as regards the activities, duties as well as supposed mandate of these men in question.
“It is pertinent to recall that at the height of the incessant kidnap cases, the Ondo State Government took some far-reaching drastic measures which included a marching order to the law-abiding Hausa/Fulani leadership in the area to fish out criminal elements among them who took advantage of the rosy relationship between the indigenes and their law-abiding guests.
“As a measure to curb and possibly, stamp out cases of kidnap in the area, the Hausa Fulani leadership was directed to select a handful of trusted men amongst them who could serve as tour guides in the thick forest as security agencies prepared to comb the forests. This measure yielded results.
“It is important to note however, that while Government appreciates the efforts of those who volunteered to provide information and served as tour guides to the security agencies in the ongoing operations in the area, it will not tolerate any unauthourised move by any group to take an undue advantage of the current state of insecurity in the country.
“Succinctly, government, having been unaware of any such identity card carrying persons in the name of a vigilante group, has directed security agencies to get to the root of the matter and apprehend any such person or group of persons operating in that manner,” he said.
Police spokesman, Femi Joseph, however, said no group of persons of any ethnic origin had been permitted to bear arms for the purpose of conducing security duty in the state.
He said while the efforts of vigilante groups in checking violent crimes in communities were commendable, “they were not allowed to bear arms or carry out security without the supervision of the police”.
“No person is allowed to bear arms and the activities of vigilante groups in some communities are done with policemen supervising,” Mr Joseph said. “They are not allowed to do it on their own.”