Human right lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), has berated Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State for defending Fulani Herdsmen carrying AK-47 rifles.
Naija News recalls that in his bid to flush out killer herdsmen, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo had asked all Fulani herders residing in Ondo forest reserves to vacate and register with the state government.
Reacting to Akeredolu’s ultimatum, Bala Mohammed had said Fulani herdsmen carry firearms to protect themselves against cattle rustlers who attack, kill and take away their possessions, adding that the Ondo governor lacked the constitutional right to evict herders.
The Bauchi governor had also slammed the South-west for refusing to accommodate herdsmen.
He noted that the north has over the years accommodated westerners, stressing that Fulani herdsmen have the right to live anywhere as Nigerians.
But in a write-up sent to The Punch on Saturday, Falana said while serving as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed demolished people’s houses because they encroached on government land.
He, therefore, wondered why 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.
“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,” he wrote.
“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 senior lawyer 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?”
He, therefore, asked the governor to stop deceiving herdsmen.
Femi Falana 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.