From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
A coalition of Northern Organisations (CNO) on Saturday defended the statement credited to the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed that herdsmen bare Ak47 rifles to protect themselves and their cows against rustlers and bandits.
The coalition at a press briefing held at popular Arewa House, Kaduna, described the controversies that greeted the former FCT minister’s comment at the closing ceremony of the Press Week of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Bauchi State Council, as “needless”.
The Convener and Chairman of the Coalition, Idris Umar Goga, flanked by the National Coordinator, Aminu Saleh, believed that the governor’s comments need not attract negative reactions, saying the Fulani herdsmen have been exposed to vagaries of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnappings, among other
To Idris and members of his coalition, “many herders have lost their lives while undertaking their legitimate business of cattle rearing. Any well-meaning Nigerian will not speak
against these Nigerians resorting to self-help in protecting themselves in the face of government failure to protect them.
“The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) clearly
stipulates in Section 14 (2) (b) that, “security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
“Despite being bona fide Nigerians whose security and welfare are constitutionally guaranteed, the government has done nothing to secure the lives and cattle of the herders. It is in this context that Governor Mohammed made mention of the use of Ak-47 by the herders to protect themselves against attacks.
“The Coalition of Northern Organization categorically declares our support for the governor on this. To us, the governor never any-where in his speech voiced support for criminal herders in any form whatsoever. Rather, he spoke against the ethnic profiling of the Fulani herders as a bunch of criminals.
“It is a known fact that as there are good people among all tribes in Nigeria today, so there are bad people. No tribe has the monopoly of being made up solely of good people or bad people. It is not only wrong to say all Fulani herders are bad but also unjust to profile them as criminals”.