Bala Mohammed, Bauchi state governor, says his statement that herders should wield AK-47 rifles to defend themselves is a figure of speech.
Last week, Mohammed said herders have no choice but to wield AK-47 rifles because they are not being protected by the government.
But speaking on a Channels Television programme on Friday, the governor said he did not suggest that carrying AK-47 rifles should be legalised, but that he was only trying to emphasise the need for herders to protect themselves because they are exposed to violence from people who have tagged them as criminals.
“I was trying to situate the problem. The Fulani man is too exposed, dehumanised, demonised. In fact, because he is seen as a bandit and so anywhere he goes, he’s been pursued not only in the south-west or in the south-east, even in the north. His cattle are being taken and rustled and sometimes they are fined beyond your imagination. So he is exposed and then he has no option but to protect himself,” he said.
“We have so many vigilante groups in Nigeria. Even at the level of government, sub-regional groups, sub-nationals, are establishing vigilante groups to make sure that the communities are protected. Why won’t the Fulani man also protect himself? If he carries a gun in order to protect himself, it may not be illegal carriage; it may be legal. But it’s a figure of speech to show you the despondency, the desperation, the frustration, and the agony that this particular person is exposed to by his own people, by his own tribe, by other tribes who have all seen him as a criminal and therefore, he has inalienable right to protect himself.
“Usually when we mention AK-47, it’s a figure of speech. The issue is protection, self-help; you must protect yourself, you have seen the context in which I mentioned AK-47. Because of the level of exposure these people are exposed to, I said they have no option but to protect themselves. The key word is self protection and self-help. But what I’m saying is not to legalise carrying of AK-47, I must be understood.”