Because of the inhumane treatment meted out to herdsmen, pastoralists have not other option than to bear arms not minding if it is legal or not, says Bala Mohammed, Bauchi State governor.
Mr Mohammed who recently justified arms-bearing herders whom he said use AK-47 rifles for self-defense, reiterated his position on Friday when he appeared on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily not minding the backlash arising from critics who accused him of supporting illegalities due to his ethnic affiliation.
The governor also acknowledged that the inhumane treatment on herdsmen occurs also in the Northern region aside from the South-West and South-East geo-political zones where they are currently been sent packing by state and non-state actors.
He also explained that he used AK-47 as a figure of speech for protection which he said the herders needed.
“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 Bauchi helmsman said.
“The Fulani man is so exposed, dehumanised, demonised in fact, because he is being seen as a bandit and so, anywhere he goes, he is being pursued. Not only in the southwest or the southeast, even in the north because he is in the cattle route.
“Sometimes, they are fined beyond your imagination. If one cow strays into the farm because the cattle route has been taken away illegally without the authority giving permission, he will be fined seriously, mercilessly.
“We have so many vigilante groups in Nigeria even at the level of government…sub regional groups, subnationals are establishing vigilante groups to make sure that their communities are protected.
“Why wouldn’t the Fulani man protect himself? And if he carries a gun in order to protect himself, it may not be a legal carriage, it may be legal. He may also register and carry it to protect himself,” Mohammed added.
Meanwhile, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) has advised critics to let the governor be. The secessionist leader said what the critics are supposed to be doing is to arm themselves also with AK-47 rifles for self-defense given the worsening insecurity across the country often attributed to violent pastoralists.