Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has accused Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, of being a terrorist based on his support for herdsmen using AK-47s.
Ortom, who spoke while addressing journalists in Makurdi on Monday, said Mohammed must be a terrorist for supporting foreign herdsmen wielding arms illegally.
He said: “I wouldn’t want to be joining (taking) issues with my brother, friend, and colleague – Bauchi Governor. But since he has continued to vilify, intimidate and blackmail me. It is said that silence is consent. I am compelled to respond to him.
“I am beginning to think that my brother, the governor of Bauchi State, is part of the terrorist Fulani organisation that is terrorising this country.
“Why do I say this? This is the same governor who took the oath of office to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This constitution does not leave room for allowing foreign herdsmen to come in without valid papers.
“This is a man who says that a Fulani man is a global man and can come in from anywhere and enter Nigeria. It is quite disappointing to hear a governor who took the oath of office, maybe he should go back and check the oath of office he took to check whether the allowing foreign terrorist Fulani herdsmen to come into Nigeria, is protecting the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Ortom said.
Also reacting to Mohammed’s statement, wherein he claimed herders can carry AK-47s to defend themselves, Ortom said the governor has to revisit the constitution to know its provisions on the matter and also tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians.
He said, “I don’t know where the constitution of this country allows any man or woman who is not licensed by security in the country to carry even a Dane gun, how much more weapons like AK-47, AK-49 and several other sophisticated weapons. The Land Use Act permits governors; like here in Benue State, I have the sole authority over land. If the Federal Government comes here to execute a project, they ask for land from me and until I grant the certificate of occupancy, they cannot do anything, whether in the forest, let him go and read (the) Land Use Charge. The governor holds the land on behalf of the people.”
Condemning the justification Mohammed gave for his AK-47 remarks, Ortom said the Bauchi State governor should apologise to Nigerians, especially those who have been victims of attacks by herdsmen in the past.
“Even his so-called response to try to run away from this thing implicated him more because he said what he said on national television, everyone heard him and his defence for saying that did not go well with us. I think the governor of Bauchi State should come out and apologise to Nigerians, it will be consoling. If he apologises, it will be appreciated but to keep arguing inflicts pain on some of us that have been victims of Fulani herdsmen and we're thinking that it's part of the conspiracy to wipe some people away, including Benue State,” Ortom said.
Ortom also said the governor of Bauchi State should be held responsible peradventure any evil befalls him.
He said, “I want to think that with what he said and what those herdsmen wrote to me that they are going to assassinate me, Bala Mohammed is also part of it and if anything happens to me, I don't want anyone to be in doubt, Bala Mohammed should be held responsible especially... the condemnable remarks he made about herdsmen carrying AK-47 and can live anywhere in Nigeria whether in the forest or all that, he came back to say that Ortom is responsible for any hatred against Fulani herdsmen.
“I regard this as a way of vilifying me, profiling me towards assassination. He wants to instigate the Fulani people against me. I am not against Fulani people; they are in Benue State and they remain here. Some of my best friends are Fulani people and we relate very well. I am against the terrorist Fulani herdsmen coming from Mali, Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon, Ghana, and other parts of the world who want to seize our land and take over and create problems.
“Governor Bala Mohammed should learn from Governor (Abdullahi) Ganduje of Kano State who came out as a Fulani man and proffered a solution on how to handle this matter. If there is no hidden agenda, Bala Mohammed should take a cue from the Governor of Kano State. He should also take a cue from the Governor of Kaduna State who is against the Fulani herdsmen, he should take a cue from them. The Governor of Kaduna State has not hidden his hate for those foreign Fulani herdsmen who come with AK-47 and are killing his people.
“Bala Mohammed should take a cue from scholars who are of Fulani origin but want peace and unity of this country, who had come out to criticise Fulani herdsmen who come with AK-47 and killing, maiming, raping people and committing all sorts of atrocities. Is Bala Mohammed more Fulani than all these people? How about the Sultan of Sokoto who came out to say that out of 10 kidnappers today in Nigeria, 7 or 8 of them are Fulanis, is he more Fulani than the Sultan of Sokoto?”
Mohammed had last week defended his comment about armed herders, explaining that he used the use of AK-47s by Fulani herdsmen as a figure of speech for protection.
“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,” the governor said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
The governor's comment on armed herdsmen had earlier triggered a wave of condemnation from his counterparts and Nigerians alike, increasing calls for the prohibition of open grazing.
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had earlier also knocked the Bauchi governor’s statement.
“For what purpose? Bala Mohammed has even poured more petrol into the fire because his speech is unexpected of him. It will become very serious and nobody will be spared,” Akeredolu, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), had noted.