Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has expressed disappointment with his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, who blamed him for the “negative perception of Fulani herders”.
Society Reel News had reported earlier that Bala Mohammed, while speaking at a programme on Thursday, accused Ortom of worsening the farmer-herder crisis through his utterances.
But in a statement issued on Friday, Terver Akase, Ortom’s media aide, the governor said he found it shocking that a colleague, who took the oath of office as he also did, to protect and preserve the Constitution “now takes the lead in violating provisions of the same Constitution by calling for lawlessness”.
He said the most shocking part of Mohammed’s statement is the part where he defended herdsmen for bearing arms.
He said: “Governor Ortom wonders which section of the law the Bauchi State Governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons.
“He recalls that it was the same Governor Mohammed who once said on national television that a Fulani man is a global citizen and therefore does not need a visa to come to Nigeria and that the forests belong to herdsmen.
“Governor Ortom wonders if his friend and colleague in Bauchi State knows a thing or two about the horrendous activities of herders in parts of the country to warrant the emotional defence and justification that he has repeatedly put forward in their favour.”
He added that in reference to Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment that there are Benue people who are freely doing business in Bauchi and elsewhere, Governor Ortom stated that Benue indigenes in Bauchi have been law-abiding and do not carry arms to attack their hosts.
He noted that Fulani as well as many other Nigerians residing in Benue, who respect laws of the land, also live peacefully with their hosts.
Ortom said his administration has not driven away any law-abiding Nigerian in Benue State.
According to Akase: “The Governor finds it unfortunate that those who are trusted with the people’s mandate and should ordinarily uphold truth and justice have chosen to mislead the country.
“He stresses the need for leaders to be cautious and retrace their steps which are capable of leading the country to anarchy.”