Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed says he will not change his stance on justification for Fulani herdsman who carry arms in the course of their pastoral endeavours.
The governor on Friday doubled down on his rationalisation for arms-bearing herdsmen, insisting that they need to protect themselves because of the dangers they are exposed when they make foray into the forest.
Speaking when he appeared on Channels TV programme on Friday, Mohammed said that the use of ‘AK-47 is a figure of speech for protection’, stating that the Fulani herdsmen have become a target of dehumanisation because of the nature of his work.
“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,” he 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.
Mohammed also alleged that herdsmen were being fined heavily whenever their cows stray into people’s farms, saying such encroachment was inevitable because cattle routes “have been taken away.”
“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,” he said.
Arguing further, the governor asserted that the pastoralists have been left with no choice than to arm themselves with assault weapons.
“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 queried.
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