Coalition of Northern Organisations (CNO) on Saturday declared support for the recent comment of Bauchi governor, Bala Mohammed, on armed herdsmen.
Mr Mohammed made headlines when he recently justified pastoralists bearing AK-47 rifles saying the cattle rearers use the weapon for self-defense from rustlers.
He reiterated the claim not minding attacks from critics who accused him of supporting illegality due to his ethnic affiliation.
The armed herders are largely accused of being behind rising insecurity across the nation. Testimonials from kidnap victims, as cited by the Ondo State government, indicted herdsmen of using forest reserves as hideouts for their criminal activities.
Declaring it support for the governor’s comments during a press briefing at the Arewa House, Kaduna, the CNO said the Bauchi helmsman spoke the obvious hence herdsmen need not be criticised for bearing arms other Nigerians are prohibited from carrying.
Convener and chairman of the coalition, Idris Umar Goga, described the controversial comments as needless, saying patriotic Nigerians will not condemn the pastoralists for resorting to self-defense given the worsening insecurity which the federal and state governments appear helpless in tackling.
“Many herders have lost their lives while undertaking their legitimate business of cattle rearing. Any well-meaning Nigerian will not speak against these Nigerians resorting to self-help in protecting themselves in the face of government failure to protect them,” the CNO chairman said.
“The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) clearly stipulates in Section 14 (2) (b) that, “security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
“Despite being bona fide Nigerians whose security and welfare are constitutionally guaranteed, the government has done nothing to secure the lives and cattle of the herders. It is in this context that Governor Mohammed made mention of the use of Ak-47 by the herders to protect themselves against attacks.
“The Coalition of Northern Organization categorically declare our support for the governor on this. To us, the governor never any-where in his speech voiced support for criminal herders in any form whatsoever. Rather, he spoke against the ethnic profiling of the Fulani herders as a bunch of criminals.
“It is a known fact that as there are good people among all tribes in Nigeria today, so there are bad people. No tribe has the monopoly of being made up solely of good people or bad people. It is not only wrong to say all Fulani herders are bad but also unjust to profile them as criminals,” Goga said.