Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has expressed disappointment over comments by his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, who blamed him for what he termed ‘negative perception of Fulani herders’ when he spoke on the current security situation in the country.
Ortom said while he will not want to join issues with the Bauchi State Governor, 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.
The governor, through his spokesman, Terver Akase, pointed out that the most shocking part of Governor Mohammed’s statement was where he defended herdsmen for bearing arms, quoting him as saying “they have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them.”
Akase said: “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 know a thing or two about the horrendous activities of herders in parts of the country to warrant the emotional defence and justification that he has repeatedly put forward in their favour.”
He added that in reference to Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people who are freely doing business in Bauchi and elsewhere, 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.
Governor Ortom said his administration had not driven away any law-abiding Nigerian in Benue State.
According to Akase: “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.”
Speaking during the Press Week Celebration organised by Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union Journalists Bauchi State Council on Thursday, the governor accused Ortom of a bad media campaign against the Fulani ethnic group.
He said the situation has worsened the herder-farmer crisis, accusing him of criminalizing the entire Fulani across the country.
“The governor that is most wrong is the governor of Benue State, my brother and colleague Governor Samuel Ortom; he started all these.
“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.”