By Peter Duru – Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has described as shocking and disappointing the allegation by his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, blaming him for what he termed ‘negative perception of Fulani herders’ when he spoke on the worsening insecurity in the country.
Governor Mohammed had also accused his Benue state counterpart of instigating hatred for armed herders in the country.
But reacting Friday in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, Governor Ortom who said he would not want to join issues with his Bauchi counterpart noted that it was shocking that a colleague who took the oath to protect and preserve the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, took the lead in violating provisions of the same Constitution by calling for lawlessness.
Part of the statement read, “the most shocking part of Governor Bala Mohammed’s statement was where he defended herdsmen for bearing arms saying ‘they have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them’.
“I wonder which section of the law the Bauchi State Governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
“I recall 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.
“I wonder if my 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.
“In reference to Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people who are freely doing business in Bauchi and elsewhere, no doubt Benue indigenes in Bauchi have been law-abiding and do not carry arms to attack their hosts.
“Relatedly, Fulani, as well as many other Nigerians residing in Benue who respect laws of the land, also live peacefully with their hosts. My administration has not driven away any law-abiding Nigerian in Benue State.
“I find 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. There is the need for leaders to be cautious and retrace their steps which are capable of leading the country to anarchy,” the Governor said.