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Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State on Friday drew flak from different parts of the country after defending the right of herders to go about with AK 47.
Leading the charge was his fellow governor, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, who challenged Mohammed to cite the law that allows herders to carry assault guns.
“They (herders) have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them,” the Bauchi State governor had said on Thursday while reacting to recent comments and actions against suspected criminal herders in parts of the country.
Mohammed had added: “It is not his (herder’s) fault, it is the fault of the government and the people; you don’t criminalise all of them, because in every tribe, there are criminals. You should be very sensitive. We have to be careful.”
He berated his colleagues in the South-West and South-East for the manner in which they are handling the herders’ crisis and claimed they are not accommodating people from other ethnic groups.
“You have seen what our colleagues in the South-West are doing and some of them in South-East. Some of us told them with all modesty and humility – you are wrong.”
Hitting back at Mohammed on Friday, Governor Ortom wondered how much the Bauchi governor knew about alleged atrocities perpetrated in parts of the country by herders.
Ortom in a statement said while he would not want to join issues with his counterpart, he found it shocking that a colleague who took the oath of office as he also did, to protect and preserve the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now takes the lead in violating provisions of the same constitution by calling for lawlessness.
According to Ortom, the most shocking part of Governor Bala Mohammed’s statement was where he defended herdsmen for bearing arms saying ”they have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them”.
The Benue governor questioned the section of the law the Bauchi governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
He said: “It was the same Governor Mohammed who once said on national television that a Fulani man is a global citizen and therefore does not need a visa to come to Nigeria, and that the forests belong to herdsmen.”
In reference to Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people who are freely doing business in Bauchi and elsewhere, Ortom stated that Benue indigenes in Bauchi have been law-abiding and do not carry arms to attack their hosts, noting that Fulani, as well as many other Nigerians residing in Benue who respect laws of the land, also live peacefully with their hosts.
Ortom insisted that his administration has not driven away any law-abiding Nigerian in Benue State.
According to the governor, it is unfortunate that those who are trusted with the people’s mandate and should ordinarily uphold truth and justice have chosen to mislead the country.
He stressed the need for leaders to be cautious and retrace their steps which are capable of leading the country to anarchy.