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Fulani herders don’t need Akeredolu’s permission to live in Ondo forests ­– Bauchi Governor

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Governor Akeredolu. Photo: TWITTER

Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed has said Nigerians don’t need the permission of any state governor to reside anywhere in the country.

Mohammed insisted that Nigerians don’t need the permission of Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to live in the forests in the state.

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But speaking yesterday on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, 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 everywhere. 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.”

He defended his earlier comment last week about armed herders, explaining that he used AK-47 as a figure of speech for protection, adding: “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.

“What I said in that context, I was addressing the media people. And the topic was the use of the media to foster national unity and I was trying to situate the problem.

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“The Fulani man is so exposed, dehumanised, demonised in fact, because he is being seen as a bandit and so, anywhere he goes, he is being pursued. Not only in the southwest or the southeast, even in the north, because he is in the cattle route, his commonwealth, which I call his cows, are being taken and rustled and of course, sometimes, but they are also fined beyond your imagination.

“If one cow strays into the farm because the cattle route has been taken away illegally without the authority giving permission, he will be fined seriously, mercilessly. And so, he is exposed and then he has no option, but to protect himself.

“We have so many vigilante groups in Nigeria, even at the level of government, sub-regional groups, sub-nationals are establishing vigilante groups to make sure that their communities are protected.

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“Why wouldn’t the Fulani man protect himself? And if he carries a gun in order to protect himself, it may not be a legal carriage; it may be legal. He may also register and carry it to protect himself.”

Mohammed was heavily criticised over the earlier defence of his seeming justification of herdsmen carrying arms to protect themselves.

His comment followed Akeredolu’s seven-day quit notice last month to Fulani herdsmen operating illegally in the state’s forest reserves, just as he banned underage grazing, night grazing and movement of cattle within the cities and on highways.

This generated reactions and after a meeting with different stakeholders, Akeredolu asked herdsmen to register with the government, so that they could operate unhindered in the forest reserves.

Akeredolu, in a statement by his Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, had criticised Mohammed for defending the use of arms by herders, describing the comments as careless and despicable, adding that his colleague had encouraged all other Nigerians to carry arms.

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