Governor Akeredolu, Falana criticise Governor Mohammed for saying Fulani herdsmen don’t need permission to stay in Ondo Forest

Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State

Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State has stated that Nigerians don’t need any permission from any governor to reside in any part of the nation.

The Bauchi governor stated this in an apparent response to the quit notice order to Fulani herdsmen in the Ondo Forest issued by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu few weeks ago.

Akeredolu had ordered herdsmen occupying Ondo Forests illegally to leave, banned underage grazing, night grazing and movement of cattle within the cities and highways.

However, Governor Mohammed faulted the ban, saying it would be inappropriate to label an entire tribe as criminals because of the crimes of a few members of the ethnic group.

Speaking on Channels TV, Governor 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.”

The Bauchi Governor had few weeks ago defended Fulani herdsmen carrying AK-47 rifle. According to him, they carry the weapons to protect themselves from cattle rustlers.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu

The problem with Governor Mohammed’s position is that farmers also needs protection from herdsmen who invade their farms with their cattles that eat up their crops too. So, one would ask if farmers should also carry AK-47 to defend themselves against herdsmen too?

Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), faulted the position of the Bauchi Governor, saying that, Mohammed while serving as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), demolished people’s houses because they encroached on government land.

Falana said its funny that the same Mohammed could turn around and say herdsmen had the right to stay in people’s land and reside in forest reserves without government’s permission.

“Under the Bala Mohammed administration in the FCT, thousands of houses were demolished on the grounds that they were illegally built on landed properties belonging to the Federal Government.

“The ex-minister wanted to demolish the entire Mpape housing over a million people. He had claimed that the owners of the various properties had trespassed on the land belonging to the Federal Government.

“The people whose properties had been marked for demolition briefed our law firm to seek legal redress. On behalf of the community, we approached the FCT High Court for urgent intervention. In an epochal judgment delivered by the Justice Kutigi, the planned demolition was halted.”

The activist argued that while Section 41 of the constitution guarantees freedom of movement, it does not give anyone the freedom to settle anywhere, adding that Section 43 of the constitution provides that every person is entitled to own immovable property in any state in Nigeria.

Femi Falana
Femi Falana

Also, Governor Akeredolu vehemently criticized Mohammed’s position, describing his comment as careless and despicable, saying that he is only encouraging all Nigerians to carry arms.

“By that statement, the governor has in one breath, agreed that indeed Fulani herdsmen carry AK 47 and at the same time encouraging all to do likewise,” Akeredolu had said in a statement Donald Ojogo, the commissioner for information and orientation, issued on his behalf.

Responding to Governor Mohammed on Saturday, Governor Akeredolu warned him not to set Nigeria on fire.

The Ondo State Governor described Mohammed’s statement that herdsmen do not need his (Akeredolu’s) permission to live in Ondo Forest as provoking and insensitive.

Read Akeredolu’s response to Governor Mohammed issued through his Special Assistant on New Media, Olabode Olatunde; “the position of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, is not to engage or confront anyone who has the mindset of a crisis entrepreneur or war monger.

“Very provoking and insensitive as the statement appears, we can only err on the side of caution by advising Governor Bala Mohammed not to set Nigeria on fire by his thoughts that are highly destructive and undermining national cohesion.

“Nigerians should ignore him and rather focus on those issues that can bring about peace and engender unity.”

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