Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State 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,” the governor said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
He stated that “the Fulani man is so exposed, dehumanised and his commonwealth (cows) taken away… when we mention AK-47, it is a figure of speech”.
Bala Mohammed in a widely criticized statement had said that AK-47-bearing herdsmen are forced to do so because the government has failed to secure their lives and livelihood.
Decades-long conflict over access and control of land between the nomadic cattle herders and local farming communities has led to thousands of lives lost, and millions worth of property damage.
“It is not his fault, it is the fault of the government and the people,” he said.
The conflict has bred ethnic tension across the country with herders, usually of the Fulani tribe, a constant target for eviction from local communities.
Mohammed condemned the treatment of Fulani herdsmen especially in the southern region, noting that the whole tribe should not be criminalised for the actions of some of them responsible for deadly attacks.
But on Friday, he tries to double down on his comments, stating, that, 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.