Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, has expressed disappointment over comments credited to Bauchi State governor Bala Mohammed, who blamed him for what he termed “negative perception of Fulani herders”.
Governor Mohammed said this at a function on Thursday, February 11, he accused Governor Ortom of being intolerant of other tribes in his state and for also sponsoring a bad media campaign against the Fulani ethnic group. He stated that Fulani herdsmen carry AK-47 rifles to protect themselves from cattle rustlers and other dangers since the government isn’t protecting them.
“The governor that is most wrong is the governor of Benue State, my brother, and colleague Governor Samuel Ortom. If you don’t accommodate other tribes, we are also accommodating your tribes in Bauchi and other places. We have so many Tiv people farming in Alkaleri, in Tafawa Balewa, farming in Bogoro LGAs; has anybody told them to go?
We have not because it’s their own inalienable rights to be there.
We have Yoruba people in Bauchi for over 150 years, even before the birth of Nigeria. Nobody has told them to go; some of them have risen to become permanent secretaries in Bauchi, Gombe, and Borno.
And now, the Fulani man is practicing the tradition of trans-human, pastoralism, he has been exposed to the dangers of the forests, the animals, and now, the cattle rustlers, who carry guns, kill him and take away his commonwealth, his cows, he had no option than to carry Ak-47 and defend himself because the society and the government are not protecting him.
It is not his fault, it is the fault of the government and the people; you don’t criminalize all of them because in every tribe there are criminals. You should be very sensitive.” Mohammed said
In a swift reaction, Governor Ortom said he finds it shocking that a colleague, who took the oath of office as he also did, to protect and preserve the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now takes the lead in violating provisions of the same constitution by calling for lawlessness.
Governor Ortom reacted via a statement released by his spokesman, Terver Akase.
“Governor Ortom wonders which section of the law the Bauchi State Governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
He recalls that it was the same Governor Mohammed who once said on national television that a Fulani man is a global citizen and therefore does not need a visa to come to Nigeria and that the forests belong to herdsmen.
Governor Ortom wonders if his friend and colleague in Bauchi State knows a thing or two about the horrendous activities of herders in parts of the country to warrant the emotional defense and justification that he has repeatedly put forward in their favor” the statement in part reads.
Responding to Governor Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people freely doing business in Bauchi and that they haven’t been asked to leave, Governor Ortom stated that Benue indigenes in Bauchi have been law-abiding and do not carry arms to attack their hosts.
He noted that Fulani as well as many other Nigerians residing in Benue, who respect laws of the land, also live peacefully with their hosts.
“The governor finds it unfortunate that those who are trusted with the people’s mandate and should ordinarily uphold truth and justice have chosen to mislead the country.
He stresses the need for leaders to be cautious and retrace their steps which are capable of leading the country to anarchy” the statement reads.