Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, yesterday said citizens do not need the permission of his Ondo State counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, to live in the forests in the South-west state.
The Bauchi governor, who spoke on a television programme, was apparently referring to herdsmen accused of sundry crimes such as kidnappings, killings, rape, amongst others, by Akeredolu, and ordered to vacate the state’s forest reserves
The Bauchi governor added that Nigerians do not need the consent of any governor to reside anywhere in the country.
Akeredolu’s quit notice generated outrage with the Presidency and some governors, including Mohammed, saying the governor lacked the right to issue a vacation notice to herders in the state.
Yesterday, Governor Mohammed said: “Land is in the hands of the state and federal governments in trust, but Nigerians don’t need the permission of governors or the federal government to settle anywhere. You don’t need the permission of the governor of Bauchi or the governor of Ondo to be in the forests of Ondo if you choose to live in the forests, because under Section 41 of the constitution, you are free to settle anywhere.”
The Ondo State governor had also criticized Mohammed for saying herders have the right to bear AK-47 rifle for self-protection.
But the Bauchi State governor said: “When we mention AK-47, it is a figure of speech; the issue is protection, self-help. You must protect yourself. 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 Fulani man is so exposed, dehumanised and demonised. He is being seen as a bandit and so anywhere he goes, his commonwealth which I call his cows are being taken and rustled and sometimes they are fined beyond your imagination and then he has no option than to protect himself.
“It may not be an illegal carriage, it may be legal. He may also register and carry it to protect himself. They have no option but to protect themselves. The issue is self-protection. There must be some sort of approval. What I am saying is not to legalise the carriage of AK-47. I must be understood.
“Nigerians must stop profiling Fulani herdsmen as criminals because of the nature of their job. We also have so many vigilante groups in Nigeria, even at the different levels of government, sub-regional groups and sub-national.”