- Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi is not backing down in his controversial statement supporting herders bearing arms
- The governor said his statement was a figure of speech highlighting the dangers herders face in thick forests
- The Bauchi governor's statement was widely criticised by a large segment of the Nigerian society
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state on Friday, February 19 defended his comment about armed herders.
According to the governor, his comment supporting herdsmen arming themselves with AK-47 rifles was a figure of speech endorsing their protection.
The comment of the governor had sparked outrage across Nigeria, with many accusing him of supporting criminality.
“It is a figure of speech to show you the despondence, the desperation, and frustration, and the agony that this particular person is exposed to by his own people, by his own tribe, and by other tribes who have all seen him as a criminal.
Therefore, he has the inalienable right to protect himself.”
Governor Mohammed had come under fire for making the comment earlier in the month.
According to him, the herdsmen were endangered species as they herd their cattle from one place to another in deep forests.
He said carrying AK-47 is justified because they need to protect themselves from bandits and cattle rustlers.
He also berated his Ondo and Benue counterparts for their policies and utterances against armed herders in their domain.
Responding, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state described the comments of his Bauchi counterpart as disappointing, adding that herders bearing arms violates the provisions of the Nigerian constitution.
Part of a statement released by Ortom's spokesman, Terver Akase, stated:
“Governor Ortom wonders which section of the law the Bauchi state governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
“He recalls that 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.”
Recall that Governor Ortom on Thursday, February 11 asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security.
The governor also stated that those carrying out attacks on communities in Nigeria are not Nigerians but foreign Fulani herdsmen, who he said took advantage of the country's porous borders to gain entry.
Similarly, Senator Francis Fadahunsi has declared that the unhindered cattle movement in Nigeria is responsible for the herders/farmers crisis in the country.
The senator who represents Osun West Senatorial District in the National Assembly also declared his support for those calling for legislation that would stop the movement of cattle across the country.
Jerrywright Ukwu is an Abuja-based senior political/defence correspondent at Legit.ng. He is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos and the International Institute of Journalism in Abuja. He is also a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. He spends his leisure-time reading history books. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.