Bauchi State government has put forward an explanation on the statement of Governor Bala Mohammed justifying Fulani herders carrying AK-47 for self-defence.
In a statement on Sunday, February 14, Muktar Gidado, a senior special assistant on media, said the comment of the principal was misunderstood.
The statement explained that the governor’s reference to AK-47 was to put in perspective, the predicament of Fulani herdsmen who, while carrying out their legitimate cow-rearing business, have become serial victims of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping and assassination.
Mohammed maintained that since the host communities and government of host states failed to protect the herders, it is imminent that the Fulani herders carry guns as self-defence.
The governor also berated Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for issuing an eviction notice to the criminal herders residing in the Ondo forest reserves.
The statement reads in part: “These are the people who, in the absence of any protection from the security agencies, are forced to resort to self-help, to defend both their means of livelihood and their lives.
“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.
“Rather than vilify Governor Bala 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.
“The primary objective of the governor was to avert the dangerous prospect of nation-wide backlash as tempers were flaring up and given that the phenomenon of inter-ethnic migration, is a national pastime involving all ethnic groups in Nigeria.”
Continuing, the statement read, “For the avoidance of doubt, at no time did the governor set out to justify criminality by anyone, no matter the person’s ethnic nationality. Rather, he admonished us, in the interest of national unity, to avoid wholesale branding of any ethnic group as 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 anyone tribe based on the crimes of a few members of the ethnic group.