The Oasis Reporters
February 22, 2021
“I must be understood. My statement on AK47 was a figure of speech.” – Bala Mohammed pic.twitter.com/9ZUhjpVz2J— Senator Bala A. Mohammed (@SenBalaMohammed) February 19, 2021
In the ongoing saga of the quit notice handed down to Herdsmen in Ondo forests over their unwholesome habit of using it as base for their kidnapping side business by Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and the rebuttal offered by Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, one of Nigeria’s leading lawyers, Femi Falana has delved into the real personae of Senator Mohammed.
Mohammed has now said that his statement was a figure of speech.
The Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), says Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed while serving as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, demolished people’s houses because they encroached on government land.
Falana, therefore, stated that it was funny that Bala could turn around to say that herdsmen have a right to stray into people’s land and reside in forest reserves without government permission.
The senior advocate said this in a write-up
He wrote, “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 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.
He further stated that Section 43 of the constitution provides that every person is entitled to own an immovable property in any state in Nigeria.
Falana said it was curious that the governor who had defended herdsmen carrying AK-47 rifles could go on to demolish a house storing such guns.
The senior advocate said, “Governor Bala Mohammed has ordered that a house being used as a den of criminal activities in Bauchi and ordered that 1,000 rifles found therein be confiscated. But the same governor said last week that herders be allowed to bear AK 47 rifles illegally in spite of overwhelming evidence that the weapons are being used to take over farmlands, kidnap people and rape women.
“So if the building warehousing 1000 AK-47 rifles in Bauchi was demolished by Governor Bala Mohammed why is he asking Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to allow herders armed with scores of AK-47 rifles to operate in Ondo State without licences issued by the appropriate authorities?”
Falana wondered why the Bauchi State government led by Mohammed would mount pressure on corporate bodies engaged in the exploration of crude oil in the Alkaleri Local Government to pay compensation to members of Baranbo community when as the governor said, the land belongs to no one.
He, therefore, asked the governor to stop deceiving herdsmen.
The senior advocate said, “Governor Bala Mohammed should stop misleading herders to acquire land for cattle business without complying with the Land Use Act, Urban and Regional Law, Forestry Law, Anti Grazing Law in the affected states.
“In particular, the attention of the governor ought to be drawn to Section 42 (1) (e) and (g) of the Forestry Law Cap 56 Laws of Ondo State, 2006 which provides that whoever in any forest reserve, except with the authority in writing of the prescribed officer, digs, cuts, turns or cultivates the soil or makes a farm or plantation; pastures cattle or permits cattle to trespass or trespasses in any part of a forest reserves in which trespass shall be prohibited by an order of the governor or during any period specified in an order of the Governor shall be liable on summary conviction as the court may impose or to imprisonment for five years or to both.”
He asked Mohammed to emulate Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and a few others by embarking on the establishment of ranches for herders for the production of meat in commercial quantities.
In another development, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has described as “provoking and insensitive”, the comments made by his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, that Nigerians don’t need Akeredolu’s permission to live in Ondo forests.
Akeredolu also warned Mohammed not to set the country on fire with his rhetorics.
Earlier reported that in a bid to sanitise Ondo forests of killer herdsmen accused of sundry crimes such as kidnappings, killings, rape, amongst others, Akeredolu ordered all herdsmen to vacate the state forest reserves or register with the state government.
The development generated outrage with the Presidency and some governors including Mohammed saying Akeredolu lacked the right to issue a vacation notice to herders in the state.
“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 State governor had said on Friday.
Reacting in a statement through his Special Assistant on New Media, Olabode Olatunde, Akeredolu urged Nigerians to disregard Mohammed’s comments.
The statement partly read, “The position of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, is not to engage or confront anyone who has the mindset of a crisis entrepreneur or warmonger. 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.”
Akeredolu had also slammed Mohammed for saying herders have the right to bear AK-47 rifle for self-protection.
Furthermore, it should be noted that just one local government alone in Bala Mohammed’s home state of Bauchi is larger than an entire state in Nigeria’s South east. Yet some governors in the north seem determined to push cattle herders away from their natural northern habitat where they all practice the same religion and culture and they own about 70 percent of the country’s landmass to the densely populated south with little land either for the fact that they are extremely poor in land management, or that they are indeed, crisis entrepreneurs, looking for war in the south?
What really is their aim ?
Some of the governors in the north aiming to keep AK47 carrying Herdsmen militia in the south have lots of questions to answer.
Is cow rearing business that is very profitable abroad in countries like India, Argentina, the UK, the US, Egypt, Israel etc being handled with rifles and kidnappings as side business ?
Not to mention killings, rapes and seizures of peoples lands ?
The Oasis Reporters In-house reporting with news reports from Punch and other Nigerian newspapers.