Igbo, Yoruba Among Bandits Terrorising Nigeria, Gov Bala Defends ‘AK-47’ Comment Again

Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has stood by his recent statement backing herdsmen’s use of Ak-47 rifles for “self-defence” because the herdsmen allegedly do not have government’s protection.

“Because the Fulani man is practising the tradition of pastoralism, he has been exposed to the vagaries of the forest, cattle rustlers who carry guns, kill him and take away his commonwealth, which are the cows.

“He has no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting him, what is his fault? it’s the fault of the government and the people. You don’t criminalize all of them, because, in every tribe, there are criminals,” the governor had recently said in a speech he delivered at the closing ceremony of the Press Week of the Correspondent’s Chapel of the NUJ in Bauchi State.

Governor Mohammed, who came under fire over the statement, had faulted the profiling of an entire tribe (the Fulanis) as criminals because a few of them perpetrate crime.

Speaking on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, the governor said those behind banditry across the country, “…are not only Fulanis. In fact, they (bandits) are terrorising the Fulanis but they have Fulani miscreants within them; they have Hausa, they have Igbo suppliers; they have Yorubas. They’re people really benefitting from the illicit trade.”

The governor and former FCT minister had in his initial statement criticised Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom, for allegedly starting a wave of anti-Fulani sentiment by signing a law banning open grazing in his state.

But following the criticism that greeted his remarks, Governor Mohammed appeared on the Channels TV programme on Friday to make a second clarification of his statement.

“I have not changed my opinion on the issue; I was not defending herdsmen,” he said.

The governor also said his statemen on herdsmen carrying AK-47 was figurative.

“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,” the governor said.

Mohammed stressed the need for all Nigerians, regardless of their ethnicity, to be allowed to inhabit any part of the country, including the forests.

“Nigerians don’t need the permission of governors to settle anywhere. You don’t need the permission of the Governor of Bauchi or Ondo to be in the forest of Bauchi or Ondo if you choose to live in the forest,” he said.