Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State, on Monday accused Bala Mohammed, his Bauchi State counterpart, of being a terrorist based on his utterances supporting herdsmen from carrying AK-47 to defend themselves.
Governor Ortom who made this accusation while addressing journalists in Makurdi, Benue State capital said Governor Mohammed must be a terrorist for supporting illegal arms wielding by foreign herdsmen.
“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 Fulani 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.
“This is a man who says that a Fulani man is a global man and can come in from anywhere and enter Nigeria. It is quite disappointing to hear a governor who took the oath of office …maybe he should go back and check the oath of office he took to check maybe the constitution gives room for foreign terrorist Fulani herdsmen to come into Nigeria,” Ortom said.
He also reacted to Governor Mohammed’s statement which says herders can carry AK-47 to defend themselves noting that “his recent outburst that Fulani herdsmen are justified for carrying AK-47 to protect themselves. I don’t know where the constitution of this country allows that.”
The Benue Governor there called on Governor Mohammed to render an unreserved apology and learn from the provisions of the constitution that, land both territorial, forest, and aquatic, are vested on the governor of a state who holds them in trust, instead of indulging in inciting Fulani herdsmen against innocent Nigerians.
AK-47 A Figure Of Speech?
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State last week Friday defended his comment about armed herders, explaining that he used AK-47 as a figure of speech for protection.
“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 governor said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
Governor Bala Mohammed’s comment on armed herdsmen had earlier triggered a wave of condemnation from his counterparts and Nigerians alike, increasing calls for the prohibition of open-grazing.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and his Ondo counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, were quick to knock the Bauchi governor’s statement. Akeredolu had described it as uncalled for, arguing that it could further escalate tensions in the West African nation.
“For what purpose? Bala Mohammed has even poured more petrol into the fire because his speech is unexpected of him. It will become very serious and nobody will be spared,” Akeredolu, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), noted.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has been thrown into panic following an attempt by the All Progressives Congress to bring in Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and his Cross River State counterpart, Governor Ben Ayade.
The PUNCH reports that the negotiations are being handled by the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who is also the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee; and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
An impeccable source within the APC reportedly said Governor Ifeanyi Uguwanyi of Enugu State was also being targeted by the APC but had declined their advances.
“Uguwanyi has been targeted but he is proving stubborn. Our aim is to ensure that we have at least three South-East states out of the five ahead of the 2023 elections. If we cannot get Ugwuanyi, we will ensure that we win the Anambra governorship election which comes up later in the year,” he said.
It was learnt that Governor Matawalle of Zamfara State had already been accepted by top All Progressives Congress leaders in Zamfara State like a former governor of the state, Senator Ahmed Yerima, who had stated publicly that Matawalle would defect.
A PDP chieftain said, “Matawalle became governor through a Supreme Court ruling. Zamfara State is still very much APC and Matawalle is seeking a second term in office. He has been able to establish a good relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“He has also been at loggerheads with the leadership of the PDP. In November 2020, Matawalle lashed out at the South-South governors of the PDP for generating bad blood in the party.
“He said he was disappointed with the South-South governors for sparking the controversy over the Zamfara gold issue and even said he was not surprised by the decision of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State to dump the PDP for the APC. He is therefore expected to join APC soon.”
It was learnt that Governor Mohammed of Bauchi State was also expected to join the APC soon and had already begun taking pro-APC positions on several matters.
“Bala Mohammed is also seeking a second term. His recent statements on herdsmen and his refusal to blame the Federal Government are due to his relationship with the Presidency. We have made frantic efforts to keep him in the party but it seems he may have made up his mind,” he said.
For Governor Ayade of Cross River State, it was learnt that he had fallen out with his predecessor, Senator Liyel Imoke.
It was learnt that Ayade had lost control of the PDP structure in the state.
A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, is also expected to leave the PDP soon along with some governors before the registration exercise of the APC ends.
“The recent membership drive is being championed by Governor Buni, Governor Yahaya Bello; Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN). These are people who have the power to give you what the PDP cannot give.
“They have the President’s backing to make promises and keep them. They are not like Bola Tinubu and Adams Oshiomhole who were not empowered by the President,” a former governor stated.
It had earlier been learnt that former President Goodluck Jonathan had not made any commitment to join the APC as of Saturday evening.
An associate of the former President said indeed Jonathan was not happy with the PDP which informed his support for the APC candidate in the last governorship election in his home state of Bayelsa, Mr. David Lyon.
It was, however, learnt that Jonathan saw the move as too risky.
“Jonathan would have joined the APC but the problem is that it is too risky. At his level, the only thing you can promise him is the Presidency and no one can promise him that seat because politics is too unpredictable. So, for now, he will remain in the PDP,” he said.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, had on Saturday alleged that the leadership of the APC is giving false promises to some members of the opposition party to enable them to defect to the ruling party.
Secondus told The PUNCH that there had been many moves by the ruling party to woo members of the PDP into its fold, saying the purpose of the APC was to snatch the PDP members but later refuse to give them any meaningful role in the party in future.
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