Bauchi Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, has said herdsmen are not to be blamed for bearing firearms.
Mohammed said they are only protecting themselves against cattle rustlers who attack, kill and take away their possessions.
The Governor spoke as Special Guest of Honour at the launch of the inaugural edition of the Bauchi Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ’s magazine titled ‘Correspondents’ Watch” on Thursday.
Recall that Oyo and Ondo states have been in the eye of the storm lately over security challenges and moves to check the activities of some killer herdsmen.
A popular Yoruba rights activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, well known as Sunday Igboho, had issued a quit notice to herdsmen accused of sundry crimes in the Ibarapa area of Oyo and enforced same.
Mohammed, while reacting to the development, said the herdsmen have the right to live anywhere as Nigerians, adding the forests where they graze their cows belong to nobody.
He said: “The west doesn’t want to accommodate other tribes but we are accommodating your tribe in Bauchi. We have Yorubas who have stayed in Bauchi for over 150 years, some of them have been made permanent secretaries in Gombe, Bauchi and Borno but because the Fulani man is practising the tradition of transhumans, pastoralism, he has been exposed to cattle rustlers who carry a gun, kill him and take away his cows he has no option to carry AK 47 because the government and the society are not protecting him. It’s the fault of the government.
”Nobody owns any forests in Nigeria, it’s owned by Nigeria. Under section 23, 24 and 25 of the Constitution, every Nigerian is free to stay anywhere. Anybody can speak how but we are only exercising restraint.
“If cybercrime is being practised mostly by one tribe, you don’t criminalise the whole tribe because of this. That’s why you journalist needs to be sensitive and exercise restraint. Avoid writing reports that will threaten the unity of this country.”
The Governor, who slammed his Benue counterpart, Samuel Orthom for poor handling of farmers-herders clashes, in his State said he was very wrong to incite other tribes against the herdsmen.
”My brother and my colleague Ortom started all this as regards herders clashes with other tribes. That’s why I must commend the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) Solomon Lalong, he is a hero in the promotion of peace despite his diverse and minority background, he put an end to the Incessant fighting between herdsmen and other tribes in Plateau.”