Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, yesterday hit back at his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, who slammed him (Ortom) for poor handling of the farmer-herder clashes which he said had led to loss of lives. Bala had accused Governor Ortom of what he called “starting all these (the herders/ farmer imbroglio) and not accommodating Fulani herdsmen in Benue the way he has accommodated Benue people in Bauchi State. He also defended herdsmen’s right to carry sophisticated weapons including AK47, saying they do so to prevent themselves from being attacked by cattle rustlers.
But Ortom, in a swift reaction, fired back at his colleague, describing his utterances as most ‘disappointing’. He said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, that he will however, not join issues with Bala but that he found it shocking that a colleague who took the oath of office as he also did, to protect and preserve the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now takes the lead in violating provisions of the same Constitution by calling for lawlessness.
Ortom said: “They have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting them.” He wondered which section of the law the Bauchi State governor cited to support herdsmen’s free movement around the country with sophisticated weapons. He recalled 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”. Ortom wondered if his colleague 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.