Bauchi Governor Defends AK-47 Comment, Says Nothing Wrong With Herdsmen Ocupying Forests
Bala Mohammed

Bauch state governor, Bala Mohammed has defended his Fulani herdsmen’s carrying Ak-47 for self-defence and accused governors criticising him of escalating the farmer-herder violence in Nigeria.

Infoexpert24 reports that this was made available in a statement by Mukhtar Gidado, his Senior Special Assistant on Media, on Sunday.

The governor said his comment’s primary objective was to avert the dangerous prospect of a nation-wide backlash and generalisation of the Fulani clan as criminals.

According to the statement, Mr. Mohammed said it would be inappropriate to label an entire tribe as criminals, based on the crimes of a few members of the ethnic group.

“The attention of the Bauchi State government has been drawn to reactions from various members of the public to Governor Mohammed’s speech, at the closing ceremony of the Press Week of the Correspondent’s Chapel of the NUJ in Bauchi State, last Thursday.

“The governor used the occasion to weigh in on the contentious issue of clashes between herdsmen and farmers, particularly against the backdrop of the eviction and other forms of restriction orders, issued by some state governments and non-governmental entities.

“The primary objective of the governor was to avert the dangerous prospect of a nation-wide backlash as tempers flared and given that the phenomenon of inter-ethnic migration, is a national pastime involving all ethnic groups in Nigeria.

“By extension, the governor made it abundantly clear that it will be inappropriate to label anyone tribe based on the crimes of a few members of the ethnic group,” the statement pointed out.

It noted that the governor’s reference to AK-47 was to put in perspective, the predicament and desperation of those “law-abiding Fulani herdsmen” who, while carrying out their legitimate cow-rearing business, have become serial victims of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping, and assassination.

“As a constitutionalist which, he has proved over time, all through his political career, Governor Mohammed will be the last person to advocate a subversion of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He did not do so in the past; he will not do so today,” the statement said further.

It explained further that Mr. Mohammed’s description of forests, as “no man’s land” is a carry-over from his geopolitical environment where a pastoralist could set up camp, in any forest, for a few weeks without causing any uproar or opposition.

“To interpret such a temporary stay as a form of ‘land grab’ by the Fulani herdsmen is completely incorrect. In actual fact, neither does such temporary habitation of the forest inconvenience anyone nor does the itinerant Fulani sojourner, bother anyone about his plight in the forest characterised by life without access to electricity, pipe-borne water, good roads, or hospitals.

“On the contrary, Mohammed is very familiar with the Land Use Act, including the criteria for land acquisition, and cannot, therefore, seek to undermine the statute which, as governor, he has sworn to uphold,” the statement added.

To those who criticised the governor, the statement noted, “Rather than vilify Governor Mohammed, it is incumbent on all those criticising him to admonish those governors whose lack of restraint is responsible for the escalation of this crisis.

“Mohammed’s antecedents, as a bridge-builder, humanist and nationalist, are so well known that he will never, under any circumstances, deliberately fuel any national crisis or subvert the constitution.”

Credit: (NAN)

 

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