Bala Mohammed, Bauchi State Governor has denied reports making the rounds that he is backing criminal herdsmen in the country.
The governor in a statement through his media aide Muktar Gidado quoted said; “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.”
“The attention of the Bauchi State Government has been drawn to reactions from various members of the public to His Excellency, Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed’s speech, at the closing ceremony of the Press Week of the Correspondent’s Chapel of the NUJ in Bauchi State, last Thursday.
“During the speech, the Governor used the occasion to weigh in on the contentious issue of clashes between herdsmen and farmers, particularly against the background of the eviction and other forms of restriction orders issued by some state governments and non-governmental entities.
“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.
The statement says; “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.”
Governor Mohammed in the statement says it was erroneous to label anyone tribe based on the crimes of a few members of the ethnic group; adding “The Governor’s reference to AK47 was simply 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.”
The governor in the statement said his description of about forest “As “no man’s land”, (please read as gift of nature), is a carry-over from his own 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 completely incorrect.”
“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 read in part.
The statement says genuine reforms, modern ranching and other innovations done genuinely will help in addressing the problem of herdsmen rather than media hypes that criminalizes an entire tribe.