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Bauchi State Governor debunks rumour of harbouring criminal cattle herders

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

The Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed has denied reports making the rounds that he is backing criminal herdsmen in the country.

A statement was signed and issued on Sunday by his Media Aide, Muktar Gidado, in which it indicated that, the primary objective of his comments was to avert the dangerous prospect of nation-wide backlash as tempers were flaring up and given that the phenomenon of inter-ethnic migration is a national pastime involving all ethnic groups in Nigeria.

According to him, the attention of the State Government has been drawn to reactions from various members of the public to His Excellency, Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed’s speech, at the closing ceremony of the Press Week of the Correspondent’s Chapel of the NUJ in Bauchi State, last Thursday.

The statement that, during his address, the governor used the occasion to weigh-in on the contentious issue of clashes between herdsmen and farmers, particularly against the background of the eviction and other forms of restriction orders issued by some state governments and non-governmental entities.

It also stated that, “At no time did the governor set out to justify criminality by anyone, no matter the person’s ethnic nationality; rather, he admonished us, in the interest of national unity, to avoid wholesale branding of any ethnic group as it is inconceivable that anyone group can be made up of only criminals.”

The statement further explained that, it was erroneous to label anyone tribe, based on the crimes of a few members of the ethnic group, saying, the governor’s reference to AK-47 was simply to put in perspective the predicament and desperation of those law-abiding Fulani herdsmen, who, while carrying out their legitimate cow-rearing business, have become serial victims of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping and assassination.

The statement stated that his description of forest as “no man’s land” (please, read as gift of nature), is a carry-over from his own geopolitical environment where a pastoralist could set up camp, in any forest, for a few weeks without causing any uproar or opposition, adding that, to interpret such a temporary stay as a form of ‘land grab’ by the Fulani herdsmen is completely incorrect.

“The governor would want it placed on record that his statement was intended to caution all stakeholders to guard against escalating the tension, just as many patriotic stakeholders, particularly from the North, have been working round-the-clock to avert reprisal actions that could throw the entire country into a cauldron of unimaginable proportions,” he explained.

The Bauchi Governor, therefore, called from genuine reforms, modern ranching and other innovations done genuinely will help in addressing the problem of herdsmen rather than media hypes that criminalizes an entire tribe.

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