Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom Monday accused his Bauchi counterpart, Bala Mohammed, of backing armed herdsmen.
Addressing reporters at the Government House in Makurdi yesterday, Ortom alleged that the Bauchi governor may be among the armed herdsmen who want him dead.
He was reacting to Mohammed’s comments that herders could bear arms, including AK47, to protect themselves.
“Some herdsmen wrote me a letter that they will kill me.
“From the way and manner my brother and governor of Bauchi spoke in support of the herdsmen carrying arms, I suspect that he is among those who want to kill me.
“Should anything happen to me, they should not look far…I wouldn’t want to be joining 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 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.
“It is quite disappointing to hear a governor who took the oath of office say this.
“Maybe, he should go back and check the oath of office he took, to check maybe the constitution gives room for foreign terrorist herdsmen to come into Nigeria.
“His recent outburst that herdsmen are justified for carrying AK-47 to protect themselves is quite unfortunate.
“I don’t know where the constitution of this country allows that.”
Ortom asked Mohammed to tender an apology and learn from the constitution, which provides that land, includes forests, is vested in the governor who holds them in trust.
He said Mohammed should learn from the governors of Kano and Kaduna as well as scholars who had supported calls to ban open grazing and the need not to pamper bandits.
He said that herdsmen who are not willing to obey the laws of the state should relocate to Bauchi where Mohammed has allowed them to carry AK47.
He noted that herders attacks had left hundreds of thousands in displaced persons’ camps and dealt a heavy blow on children.
The governor said his call for the declaration of a state of emergency on security was a patriotic one that has the backing of senators, expressing the hope that his letter to Mr President would receive the desired attention.Mohammed could not be reached for comments.
His Special Adviser on Media, Mukhtar Gidado, did not pick our correspondent’s call or reply to the text sent to him.
Special Assistant to the Governor on New Media, Lawal Muazu, also did not pick his call nor reply to the text sent to him.
Also yesterday, a former Bauchi Governor, Isa Yuguda, said it was not fair to profile the Fulani as criminals.
Speaking after revalidating his All Progressives Congress (APC) membership, Yuuguda said the Fulani herdsmen provided most of the fund that fast-tracked much of the region’s development.
According to him, when the colonial masters came, they respected the herders and provided them with routes and grazing reserves for their cattle.
He said: “The neglect of the Fulani, especially the cattle herders who are presently giving Nigeria a minimum of one million cattle to slaughter daily, their treatment by the Nigerian state, has been most unfair.“Most unfair in the sense that at the time Lord Lugard conquered Northern Nigeria and set up the government in Northern Nigeria, they were the only source of revenue.
“They provided the revenue that jumpstarted development in the North, including Benue State, where they have being chased out now.’
“They’re pastoralists. They’re people who provided beef for the country. You can see them as an agricultural venture. The Nigerian State has not been fair to these people.
“When the white man came, he respected them because they were the source of revenue.
“Not only that, he provided cattle routes for them but today, where are the grazing reserves? Where are the cattle routes and grazing reserves now
“Those in power never thought of resettling these people because if they had being settled down, you will have a dairy industry, beef industry because it’s a huge economy.”