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Herdsmen need AK-47 for self defence, says Bauchi gov.

Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State believes rifle-bearing herdsmen were forced to do so because the government has failed to secure their lives and livelihood.

Decades-long conflict over access and control of land between the nomadic cattle herders and local farming communities has led to thousands of lives lost, and millions worth of property damage.

Herdsmen have borne the brunt of the blame for the attacks especially because they roam into numerous communities, illegally bearing arms, with herds of cattle that cause devastation to farmlands.

The governor spoke, in Bauchi, on Thursday, said herdsmen needed the AK-47 rifles to defend themselves from cattle rustlers and other challenges encountered on the road.

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“It is not his fault. It is the fault of the government and the people,” he said.

The conflict had bred ethnic tension across the country with herders, usually of the Fulani tribe, a constant target for eviction from local communities.

Governor Mohammed condemned the treatment of Fulani herdsmen especially in the southern region, noting that the whole tribe should not be criminalised for the actions of some of them responsible for deadly attacks.

He especially picked on Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State for starting a wave of anti-Fulani sentiment.

The governor said his own state had been accommodating to all tribes from across the country, unlike the treatment Fulani people are facing in other parts.

“You should be very sensitive,” he said.

Governor Mohammed’s comment was made a day after the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) reached a consensus to end open grazing in the country, a major source of the conflict.