Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State on Friday drew flak from different parts of the country after defending the right of herders to go about with AK 47.
Leading the charge was his fellow governor, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, who challenged Mohammed to cite the law that allows herders to carry assault guns.
“They (herders) have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them,” the Bauchi State governor had said on Thursday while reacting to recent comments and actions against suspected criminal herders in parts of the country.
Mohammed had added: “It is not his (herder’s) fault, it is the fault of the government and the people; you don’t criminalise all of them, because in every tribe, there are criminals. You should be very sensitive. We have to be careful.”
He berated his colleagues in the South-West and South-East for the manner in which they are handling the herders’ crisis and claimed they are not accommodating people from other ethnic groups.
“You have seen what our colleagues in the South-West are doing and some of them in South-East. Some of us told them with all modesty and humility – you are wrong.”
Hitting back at Mohammed on Friday, Governor Ortom wondered how much the Bauchi governor knew about alleged atrocities perpetrated in parts of the country by herders.
Ortom in a statement said while he would not want to join issues with his counterpart, he found it shocking that a colleague who took the oath of office as he also did, to protect and preserve the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now takes the lead in violating provisions of the same constitution by calling for lawlessness.
According to Ortom, the most shocking part of Governor Bala Mohammed’s statement was where he defended herdsmen for bearing arms saying ”they have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them”.
The Benue governor questioned the section of the law the Bauchi governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
He said: “It was the same Governor Mohammed who once said on national television that a Fulani man is a global citizen and therefore does not need a visa to come to Nigeria, and that the forests belong to herdsmen.”
In reference to Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people who are freely doing business in Bauchi and elsewhere, Ortom stated that Benue indigenes in Bauchi have been law-abiding and do not carry arms to attack their hosts, noting that Fulani, as well as many other Nigerians residing in Benue who respect laws of the land, also live peacefully with their hosts.
Ortom insisted that his administration has not driven away any law-abiding Nigerian in Benue State.
According to the governor, it is unfortunate that those who are trusted with the people’s mandate and should ordinarily uphold truth and justice have chosen to mislead the country.
He stressed the need for leaders to be cautious and retrace their steps which are capable of leading the country to anarchy.
Shehu Sani to Gov. Mohammed: Don’t baptise infamy
Similar sentiments were expressed by Senator Shehu Sani.
Sani, in a short response, said Bala Mohammed’s comment was nothing short of baptising infamy.
“My Brother, Bauchi Governor’s justification for AK47 amounts to baptizing infamy,” he tweeted.
It’s an invitation to anarchy, says PANDEF
The Pan Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF), labeled Bala Muhammed’s statement reckless, careless and an invitation to anarchy.
“It is sad that the Bauchi State governor, Bala Muhammed, would make that kind of statement. Invariably, what he is saying is that every business person in Nigeria should carry AK 47. That is what he is saying and that is a call for anarchy,” National Publicity Secretary of the forum, Ken Robinson in a chat with our correspondent yesterday.
He added: “That is a call for total collapse of governance in the country. It is an irresponsible statement from a governor that some of us hold in high esteem. It is unfortunate that he is saying that.
“Instead of that kind of statement, what we of expect governor Bala is to caution the herdsmen to respect the law and the people on whose lands they do business instead of forcefully occupying lands, terrorising innocent citizens and molesting women.
“As long as those in authority in the North continue to make this kind of statements, the herders’ crisis will continue to aggravate and embolden these people to do the kind of criminal activities that they are doing.
“Why are they not doing that in Bauchi State? Why are they doing it in southern Nigeria? Those are the questions we should ask the governor. It is very unfortunate and it is a pity that Governor Bala Muhammed would make that kind of reckless and careless statement. It is sad and unfortunate.”
It’s threat to national security, says Ojo
A security expert, Mr. Jackson Lekan Ojo, said he was disturbed that a state governor could make that kind of statement.
“AK-47 is not a soft weapon, it is a sophisticated weapon and it cannot be registered for anybody for gaming or for personal protection.
“It is only the government security personnel alone that are allowed by law to use it.
“And if you say because of the hazard of their business then the okada riders, the keke riders, the taxi drivers too should carry AK-47. Armed robbers too attack them and take their keke or bike.
“Every other person in the market too should carry an AK-47 because there is no business without hazard and so it is disturbing.
“The farmers in their farmlands should carry AK-47 because of the herdsmen that enter their farmlands and ravage them.
“The classroom teachers should carry AK-47 because we have seen several times the bandits will go to school and carry away all the children. Invariably, everybody in Nigeria should carry an AK-47 to protect their businesses.
“To me such a thing from a governor is saddening and a threat to national security.”
Oluwo: A private citizen cannot carry AK-47
The Oluwo of Iwo, Osun State, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, said: “Anybody that is fueling war or crisis in Nigeria in any part of Nigeria should be taken by the DSS and arrested. We don’t want war, we want peace.
“Only security agents are allowed by law to carry guns. We don’t want anything to escalate something that will make people defend themselves.
“If people are pushed too much, they would have to defend themselves with anything they get their hands on. I believe that was what the governor was talking about.
“What I’m saying is anybody, anywhere in Nigeria—North, West, South, East, if anybody fuels war, get him arrested.
“They don’t know what war is. War is a state of anarchy where there will be no family, no food. People will be starved to death.
“We should try to live in peace. That was why I visited the Fulani. I told them that they have to come to the city, we have to educate them, and we have to educate their children, they have to know modern ranching.
“If there is war, everybody will be affected. Don’t let anybody fuel war. There must be no war in Nigeria.
“I think what the governor was saying is that the herders should be able to defend themselves.
“AK-47 is an assault rifle that is for war. It is only in Nigeria people carry assault rifles all about.
Everybody should have the right to live anywhere in Nigeria, if somebody is a criminal, get him arrested.
Buhari should advise him to resign
The Director general of Amotekun in Osun State, Mr. Amitolu Shittu, said: “A statesman should not make such a statement that is volatile, that can destroy the peace of and harmony of the people of Nigeria.
“The oneness of Nigeria has been eroded by this kind of leader that is making a volatile statement and he needs to be cautioned by the Presidency
“If the house of assembly is a toothless bull dog that cannot bite, that cannot stop the excesses of their governor, that encourages their governor to support criminals and one ethnic group, the President should advise him to resign.
“If the house of assembly does not have the courage to tell the governor to withdraw the statement or resign, the President can tell him to do so. We advise Mr. President to simply advise him to resign.”
He should tell us why he believes the herdsmen are above the law – Tayo Douglas
The Director of Legal Affairs, Yoruba Koya Leadership & Training Foundation (YKL&TF), Mr.Tayo Douglas said the governor “never meant well with the statement credited to him.
“I believe the Governor is aware that there’s a law in the country, that is, the Nigerian Firearms Act (1990) which provides that no person shall have in his possession or under his control any firearm or ammunition except such person has a license from the President or from the Inspector General of Police.
“Furthermore the press release made by the then Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris, on the 21st February, 2018 directed the Commissioners of Police of all the State Commands of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and their Supervising Assistant Inspectors General of Police of the Twelve Zonal Commands in the Country; to immediately commence simultaneously throughout the Country, the disarmament and recovery of prohibited firearms, ammunition and weapons in the possession of all suspected Militias, Bandits, vigilante groups, Neighbourhood watch and other groups or Individual(s) or bodies bearing prohibited firearms and ammunition, illegal weapons and lethal devices whether locally fabricated, modified or otherwise fashioned to kill or that can cause harm or injury to persons or that can cause panic, fear, apprehension, security breach, breach of peace or that can cause threat to law and order anywhere in the country.
“The question to now ask the governor of Bauchi State is: under whose watch or licence are these killer herdsmen carrying about with them the prohibited ammunition?
“Secondly, the governor should be bold enough to tell the whole world why he believes the herdsmen are above the law of the land or why their flagrant disobedience of the law should be condoned. The problem with some of our leaders is that they don’t care if this country can be set ablaze with all their unguarded utterances.”
Onitiri: What is good for herders should be good for all
A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Lagos State, Sumbo Onitiri, said if carrying of AK47 is good for herders, it should be good for all Nigerians to also carry guns.
“We are all equal; no one is above the law.
“Let everybody be licensed to carry AK-47, so that we can all defend ourselves, nobody will come and take you for granted, nobody will take you for a cow.
“A cow does not have more rights than a Nigerian. A cow’s life is not more valuable than a Nigerian life.”