The Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed has continued to defend himself following his comment on armed herdsmen which has continued to generate heat and criticism in the country.
The governor had stated that fulani herdsmen need AK 47 rifles for their protection. He defended that the herders are exposed and need to protect themselves.
Governor Bala on a National Television on Friday, defended his comment about armed herders, explaining that he used AK-47 as a figure of speech for protection.
“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 and therefore, he has the inalienable right to protect himself” Bala said.
Further in his explanation, Bala said; “What I said in that context, I was addressing the media people. And the topic was the use of the media to foster national unity and I was trying to situate the problem.
“The Fulani man is so exposed, dehumanised, demonised in fact, because he is being seen as a bandit and so, anywhere he goes, he is being pursued. Not only in the southwest or the southeast, even in the north because he is in the cattle route, his commonwealth which I call his cows, are being taken and rustled and of course, sometimes, they are fined beyond your imagination. If one cow strays into the farm because the cattle route has been taken away illegally without the authority giving permission, he will be fined seriously, mercilessly.
“And so, he is exposed and then he has no option but to protect himself. We have so many vigilante groups in Nigeria even at the level of government, subregional groups, sub nationals are establishing vigilante groups to make sure that their communities are protected. Why wouldn’t the Fulani man protect himself? And if he carries a gun in order to protect himself, it may not be a legal carriage, it may be legal. He may also register and carry it to protect himself” Bala maintained.
However, the governor has received condemnation from some politicians and citizens of Nigeria . The comment has also triggered a rise in the push for the prohibition of open-grazing all over the federation.
The likes of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, and Rotimi Akeredolu, of Ondo State came out to condemn the statement.
They described the statement as uncalled for and capable of escalating tension in the country.
“For what purpose? Bala Mohammed has even poured more petrol into the fire because his speech is unexpected of him. It will become very serious and nobody will be spared,” Akeredolu said.
On his own part, Governor Ortom, questioned the section of the law the Bauchi governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.