Why I defended arm-bearing Fulani herdsmen — Bala Mohammed

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Governor Bala Mohammed has cleared the air on why he said there was nothing wrong in Fulani herdsmen arming themselves with AK-47 rifles in the peripatetic search for pastures across the country.

The governor had said Fulani herdsmen carry arms to protect  their lives and livelihood against cattle rustlers and bandits

Bala’s comments, which also took a swipe at Governor Orton and some governors in the Southwest, had attracted caustic remarks from his counterparts.

But reacting to the criticisms that have been trailing his comments, the Bauchi State governor said he issued the statement to caution people against the sweeping generalisation that all herdsmen of Fulani extraction are criminals.

The Bauchi governor gave his response via a statement issued by Mr. Mukhtar Gidado, his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on media.

According to the statement, 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 statement read in part,“The attention of the Bauchi State government has been drawn to reactions from various members of the public to gov. 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,” said the SSA.

 

The statement added, “As a Constitutionalist which, he has proved over time, all through his political career, Gov. 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 rationalised  Mohammed’s description of forests, as “no man’s land” as a carry-over from his own 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 characterized 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,” he said.

According to the media adviser the  governor’s statement was intended to caution all stakeholders to guard against escalating the tension, just as many patriotic stakeholders, particularly from the North, have been working round the clock to avert reprisal actions that could throw the entire country into a cauldron of unimaginable proportions.

 

“Rather than vilify Gov. 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,” said Gidado.

 

 

 

 

 

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