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Don’t blame herdsmen alone, farmers carry AK-47 rifles too: Lalong

Herdsmen alone should not be blame for bearing arms illegally, says Simon Lalong, governor of Plateau State.

Mr Lalong stated this while featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily Tuesday.

The governor arrived at the conclusion after citing instance of farmers and herders clash in his state with the two parties arrested with arms.

His Bauchi counterpart, Bala Mohammed, had justified arms bearing herders, saying the weapons are meant for protection and self-defense by herders who have now turned violent by using the arms for killings, rapings and kidnappings.

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“I am not justifying anybody carrying AK-47 but don’t forget in the cause of our deliberations and investigations, it was not only Fulanis that were carrying AK-47, but even farmers are also carrying AK-47,” Mr Lalong stated.

“Farmers are also carrying AK-47 because when you talk about them, it is just a proliferation of arms with respect to guiding and everybody trying to protect himself. We shouldn’t allow people to have self-help. When they talk about AK-47, I have not seen anybody talk about that.

“But at the time there were farmers-herdsmen clashes here, we arrested people. Farmers were holding AK-47 and the herdsmen were also holding AK-47.

“So, if you want all of them not to hold AK-47, you must put deliberate efforts towards curtailing the influx of light arms and secondly, to also find ways of taking these people away from their old ways of farming and then introduce them into the modern system,” he said, giving reason why implementing anti-open grazing laws would be difficult.

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Lalong advised his colleague governors to provide alternative before banning open grazing.

“First of all, you must provide an alternative. You don’t wake up today and say ‘No, you can’t do poultry’. If you say you are not going to do poultry, those into it will ask ‘what alternative are you giving us? This has always been my point.

“Open grazing is out of fashion but what do we do as an alternative? We must be able to teach people the modern way of animal husbandry and also sensitive to them before they understand. Otherwise, if you just wake up tomorrow and say you ban it, it will be difficult. To be honest with you, it will be difficult to implement because not everybody will understand,” he added.

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