Governors of southern Nigerian states under the aegis of the Southern Nigeria Governors’ Forum met on Tuesday evening to discuss the state of the nation.
The meeting held virtually at the instance of Governors Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and David Umahi (Ebonyi) to solutions to end the regional and broader national security crisis.
Akeredolu, Okowa and Umahi are chairmen of the South West, South-South and South East Governors’ Forums, respectively.
The governors met just as the Ondo State Security Network (“Operation Amotekun”) evicted 137 illegal occupiers of Government Forest Reserves at Iron in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State.
The affected persons, mostly of Fulani background, claimed they had access to the land through the collaboration of local chiefs in the area.
The Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, in a statement made available to Daily Sun, said that 15 of the 17 governors from the south attended the meeting.
They included the Ekiti State Governor who doubles as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), David Umahi(Ebonyi), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Lolo Cecilia Ezeilo (Deputy Governor of Enugu State, representing Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi).
Others are: Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Okezie Victor Ikpeazu (Abia), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).
The governors, who called for commitment and unity in addressing issues that affect the country, particularly southern Nigeria, stressed the need to put the country first.
As part of their resolution, the governors agreed to meet in Asaba, the Delta State capital, next week to harmonise their positions aimed at dousing rising tensions in the country.
“The three governors, especially the chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum have provided good leadership and direction to the extent that a proper path to confidence building has been laid,’ a source close to one ot the governors told Daily Sun.
‘It is coming a bit late but it has largely shown that there are still leaders who think of the nation’s unity first before any other. The kernel of the meeting was that Nigeria is too important to let [fall] into conflagration. It’s a good move, no doubt.’
Meanwhile, the illegal occupants of the Ondo forest reserves were apprehended at Elegbeka forest along Ifon-Owo road on their arrival from unknown destinations.
Governor Akeredolu had a few weeks ago ordered the eviction of illegal occupants of the state government forest reserves who refused to register with government.
The governor’s action followed the murder of the Olufon of Ifon, Oba Adegoke Adeusi, who was shot dead on the Owo-Ifon route a few months ago.
In an interview, the Commander of Amotekun Corps, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, stated that the illegal forest occupants had to be escorted out of Ondo State to their places of origin.
‘We got intel that very many people bombarded the forests reserves at legbeka–Ifon area in the state. We moved in and, on questioning, a majority of them said they were from the northern part of the country.
‘We asked for thier mission but they were not able to give us a clear cut of what they are here for. We brought some of them [to Akure] and their sponsors here to the headquarters [of Amotekun] for proper investigation.
‘We profiled them and we found out that they were conniving with some persons in Ose to be given space for settlement in the government’s forest reserve, which makes them illegal occupants of the forests. We are sending them back to where they claimed they came from,’ Adeleye said.