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Fulani herders and AK47: Why Bauchi governor should be investigated

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Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed has brazenly supported and justified the use of AK47 by Fulani herdsmen in his address at the closing ceremony of the 2021 Press Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Bauchi State Council, on Thursday.

He said:.”Governor Samuel Ortom didn’t handle Fulani herders well in his State and it’s wrong that eviction notices were issued herdsmen by some governors in the South West.”

The implication is that the governor didn’t mean well for the country and also, his stance speaks an invitation to anarchy. A serious scrutiny into activities of these Fulani herders and how they boldly kill and maim calls for concern that there are powers backing them.

With Bauchi governor’s support for the killer herdsmen, security agents need not look somewhere else, but should investigate him in order to unravel, if he is complicit in how deadly weapons get to hands of Fulani herders who have become nightmares to Nigerians, otherwise, one wouldn’t be surprised if the next civil war is triggered by Fulani herdsmen.

Very disappointing to watchers of crisis is Bala’s vituperation against Benue State governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom where he accused his colleague of poor handling of Fulani herders’ incessant attack on Benue people because, the people who entrusted power in the hand of Mr. Samuel Ortom wanted open grazing stopped to protect their farmlands.

Benue State governor never evict Fulani herders. He only insisted on controlled manner of rearing cattle in Benue State which everybody was aware. In resistance to this development, Fulani herders have killed uncountable number of Benue citizens in the last 6 years.

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Today, Ortom is the most vilified, most abused and insulted because he insist on protecting his people that gave him the mandate to govern them for 8 years. Ortom is currently serving his second term in office and by comparison, he is Bala Mohammed’s senior. Courtesy demands, that if Bala Mohammed was grieved and he enjoys destruction of lives and properties in most States of the federation, he should have met with Ortom behind close doors to discuss differences rather than damaging his own image in attempt to defend marauders and pulling down Ortom.

Experience they say is the best teacher. Human killings in Benue State by Fulani herders as well as kidnapping, robbery and other heinous crimes which Samuel Ortom survived and still won the 2019 governorship was a living testimony to how he expertly handled the menace of insecurity in Benue State. Nigerians have seen instances, where Fulani socio-cultutal group; Miyetti Allah and MACBAN leadership openly threatened to make Benue State ungovernable. They have often lay claim to deadly attacks on some Benue communities, probably because the likes of Bala Mohammed is supportive of their activities. What a world?

If Samuel Ortom was wrong for signing a law that bans open grazing, why is the Federal government toeing the path of Ortom’s solution? Why are State governments suggesting for ‘RUGA’? On Wednesday, the Chairman of Northern governors’ Forum which Bauchi governor is a member in a statement signed by the forum’s Chairman and governor of Plateau State, Hon. Simon Lalong, said Open Grazing was no longer possible in Nigeria because the system has been overtaken by development. This is what Ortom championed that the likes of Bala Mohammed wants him crucified.

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Bala’s mindset as it were, doesn’t only cast opium on the peace loving Bauchi people, but his utterances depicts the fact that all Nigerians should bear arms, because the law allows self defence. Come to think of it!

Presently, Fulani herdsmen attack occurs daily with its attendant human and material casualties. They are involved in killing, kidnapping, raping and all forms of criminalities and their ugly development spreads across most States in the country.

It’s quite shocking that a leader and a sitting governor could be so ethnocentric, and insensitive to the obvious devastating situation occasioned by Fulani Herdersmen attacks.

It’s baffling that this statement of the governor means that the set of laws that governs the country should be selectively respected; meaning that other set of ethnic tribe who chose not to observe the laws should have no sanction meted against them. This is because it is unlawful for anyone to bear fire arms illegally and under any guise as Senator Mohammed wants Nigerians to believe that Fulani herders bear AK 47 because their cows are rustled all the time.

These pastoralists moves into the country through porous borders illegally while taking advantage of a weak system of government, but once they have stepped into the Nigerian jurisdiction, they ought know that bearing firearm is an infraction on the nation’s laws.

AK47 is one of the most dangerous weapon, but are easily found among the Fulani herders because of their international background. Arms are smuggled from armoury of collapsed government like Lybia, a northern Africa country and these arms found their way into hands of criminal elements, like Boko Haram, ISWAP and so on.

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No one can say with precise the number of herdsmen with AK47 wandering around the 36 States of the Federarion and the Federal Capital Territory, yet cases of Fulani herdsmen attacks are grossly under reported as most of these attacks occur in hard to reach remote areas. So one could imagine the number of dangerous weapons in hands of Fulani herders and other criminal elements operating in the forests around the country.

Bala’s support has further lent credence to claims by public analysts that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government protects Fulani herdsmen, hence, the government sits supine watching heinous crimes being perpetrated by these people. Today in Nigeria, farmers are at the receiving end. Farmers are killed in their numbers. From North to the South, East and West, Fulani marauders are on the prowl.

Any adult knows, pastoralist uses a shepherd stick. The herder does not pose danger to a farmer, a hunter or anyone, if they met in the forest, but these days the narrative has changed for bad. It’s the almighty AK47. Yet Bala Mohammed has woken up to the defense of these nomads, who lack basic education that would have naturally enhance their sense of reasoning. An AK47 bearing man is a dangerous man anytime, a farmer who bears hoe and cutlass meets him on the farm, the farmer is dead.

If security challenges must be tackled, security operatives like the DSS, Military, Police and others must keep a tab on activities of the elites. A stitch in time saves nigh.

Samson Atekojo Usman is a journalist and writes from Abuja

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