Governor Bala Defends Comment on Armed Herders

The Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, has reacted to criticism over his comments regarding Fulani herders carrying an AK47 rifle. The Governor noted that the statement was not supporting crime but aimed at ending herders’ sufferings.

The Governor stated this through a press release made public by his Senior Special Assistant on media, Muhktar Gidado, on Sunday.
He said the primary objective of the Governor was to discourage the dangerous prospect of nationwide backlash as resentments were flaring up, and given that the phenomenon of inter-ethnic migration cut across all ethnic groups in the country.

According to him, “First, at no time did the Governor set out to justify criminality by anyone, no matter the person’s ethnic nationality. Instead, he admonished us, in the interest of national unity, to avoid any ethnic group’s wholesale branding. It is inconceivable that anyone group can be made up of only criminals. By extension, the Governor made it abundantly clear that it will be inappropriate to label an aanyonetribe based on a few members of the ethnic group’s crimes.

“Second, to the extent that not every herdsman is a criminal, the Governor’s reference to AK47 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 Bala 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.

“Third, Governor Bala Mohammed’s description of forests, as “no man’s land” (please read as the gift of nature), 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 entirely incorrect. Bala 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.

“Fourth, the Governor would want it placed on record that his 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,” the statement reads.

Mohammed further called for reasoned caution in dealing with inter-ethnic hostility of the nature that the ejection of herdsmen from parts of the country is degenerating into.

“It is his fervent wish that, together, all stakeholders will work towards re-establishing inter-ethnic trust and harmony that has been so badly dented, within the past few weeks or months,” the statement revealed.

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