By Romanus Okoye
Bauchi Governor, Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, has challenged his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, to substantiate allegations that he is a terrorist and sponsoring alleged killer Fulani herders.
The governor, in a statement by his media aide, said governors could disagree on issues, but that did not make them enemies or provide an alibi for allegations that border on extreme criminality.
The statement said Mohammed was “therefore shocked that Governor Ortom could, in good conscience, address a fellow governor whom, he had described as a brother, as a terrorist and who should be placed under watch should anything untoward happen to him (Ortom). We want to state that Governor Ortom has carried the unfortunate theatrics, for which he is well known, to a very precipitous level of brinkmanship.”
He stated further that despite their resolve not to escalate the tension in the country over the sacking of Fulani herdsmen from Ondo State, it would be irresponsible to ignore two claims made by the Benue State governor.
“As a journalist and democrat, Governor Mohammed concedes to Governor Ortom the right to reply. But Benue governor over-personalised the matter; thereby reducing the debate to a level of toxicity that is neither healthy for the country nor helpful to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Since Governor Ortom said Governor Mohammed is his brother, should we then say he is the brother of a terrorist? Should Governor Ortom, as the self-professed brother of a ‘terrorist’ also be placed under watch, lest he carried out terrorist attacks on others?”
The statement reiterated that Governor Mohammed is a patriot and nationalist with no criminal record whatsoever.
“As a peace-loving democrat, Governor Mohammed has gone to great lengths to ensure the letters and spirit of the country’s constitution are faithfully upheld. He has demonstrated, time and again, that he holds sacrosanct, the unity and oneness of Nigeria; and that it is the inalienable right of any Nigerian to live anywhere in the country and to pursue one’s legitimate business, without any form of discrimination.
“Secondly, Governor Mohammed retains the view, which he shares with many other patriots that it is not only unfair but antithetical to national unity to profile an entire ethnic group for good or for bad.
“Thirdly, Governor Mohammed maintains that the proper approach to tackling criminality is to bring the full weight of the law to bear on any suspected criminal: kidnapper, armed robber, confidence trickster, rapist or assassin, no matter the person’s ethnic background or station in life.
“Fourth, Governor Mohammed holds the view that, as the nation passes through these trying times, rather than stoke the embers of ethnic particularism, leaders, at all levels, should do well to emphasise our unity, reassure those whose confidence have been shaken, by the unfortunate events of the past few weeks, and seek avenues to heal the wounds inflicted on compatriots of various ethnicities, in the macabre rage that has engulfed the country.
“Fifthly, Governor Mohammed reassures non-indigenes residing in Bauchi State of their safety. He maintains that Bauchi is safe for every Nigerian and foreigners alike, and admonishes all to go about their legitimate businesses, devoid of any apprehension while keeping vigilant, as the price we all have to pay, for our liberty.
“Finally, most important of all, Governor Mohammed is deeply saddened by the sheer human waste, the mindless blood-letting, caused by the high level of insecurity, all over the country.”
He commiserates with those who have lost loved ones to the various incidents of insecurity. While imploring God to grant the bereaved the fortitude to bear the loss, it is his prayerful hope that he will grant the deceased, peaceful repose.”