Some Nigerians claimed he was the defence minister and that his action was probably due to the high rate of insecurity in the country.
The Ministry of Defence has given the identity of the man boarding a jeep with AK-47 in a viral video as the Rector of the Nigerian Army College of Environmental Science and Technology (NACEST), Makurdi and not the Minister of Defence, Major General Salihi Magashi (rtd).
Ever since the video surfaced, some Nigerians claimed he was the defence minister and that his action was probably due to the high rate of insecurity in the country.
However, the Special Assistant to the Defence Minister on Media, Mohammad Abdulkadri in a statement, explained that the person in the video was the Rector of NACEST, Makurdi, who by virtue of his command position, is statutorily allowed in the military to sign for weapons when travelling.
The statement read, “In fact the Army green colour on the Innonson Jeep (SUV) and the Unit sticker of NACEST on the official Vehicle are enough evidence to neutralise the spurious claim in the clip being referred to as the Official vehicle of the Minister of Defence who uses black Land cruiser jeep like his counterparts in other ministries.
“Again the Internet fraudsters’ desperate attempt to demean the personality of the Defence Minister proved null and void and untenable with the fake picture of the Orderly that wears blue colour of the insignia band of NA Education Corp whereas the Orderly to General Magashi (Name withheld) is of the Corps of the Military Police who uses red berret and MP red hand band on his Camouflage.” (Sahara Reporters)
The Governor of Bauchi State, Sen. Bala Mohammed, has said that his support for Fulani Herdsmen to carry AK-47 rifles is to enable them to defend themselves against bandits, kidnappers and assassins as security agencies cannot protect them.
He also explained that contrary to allegations that he urged Herdsmen to invade and occupy farmlands illegally, he only tried putting in perspective that Herdsmen are pastoralists whose presence anywhere is often temporal.
A statement by Mukhtar Gidado, Senior Special Assistant (Media ) to the Governor said that he, “is very familiar with the Land Use Act, including the criteria for land acquisition and cannot therefore seek to undermine the statute which, as Governor, he has sworn to uphold.”
Bala whose recent remarks at the closing ceremony of the Press Week of the Correspondent’s Chapel of the NUJ in Bauchi State triggered nationwide condemnation with many urging security agencies to investigate his role in the insecurity ravaging parts of the country; however said that he intervened “to avert the dangerous prospect of nation-wide backlash as tempers were flaring up and given that the phenomenon of inter-ethnic migration, is a national pastime involving all ethnic groups in Nigeria.”
The statement further reads “first, at no time did the Governor set out to justify criminality by anyone, no matter the person’s ethnic nationality. Rather, he admonished us, in the interest of national unity, to avoid wholesale branding of any ethnic group as it is inconceivable that any one group can be made up of only criminals.”
It added that “by extension, the Governor made it abundantly clear that it will be inappropriate to label any one tribe based on the crimes of a few members of the ethnic group.”
Also, the presser stated that “to the extent that not every herdsman is a criminal, the Governor’s reference to AK47 was simply to put in perspective, the predicament and desperation of those law-abiding Fulani herdsmen who, while carrying out their legitimate cow-rearing business, have become serial victims of cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping and assassination.
These are the people who, in the absence of any protection from the security agencies, are forced to resort to self-help, to defend both their means of livelihood and their lives.”
On his claim that forests are no man’s land, in apparent reference to the eviction of herders from Forest Reserves in Ondo State, the former PDP National Chairman denied asking Fulanis to forcefully takeover lands belonging to others.
In a strong open letter to the Inspector General of police, the Ohanaeze President General, Dr Nnia Nwodo warns of imminent anarchy if Fulani herdsmen are allowed to carry AK-47 on the streets of Anambra without arrests.
In his letter he raised the issue of four Fulani herdsmen carrying six AK-47 rifles while freely riding on motorcycles in Anambra state and the refusal of the police to arrest them.
Here is his letter below.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE
BY PRESIDENT GENERAL, OHANEZE NDIGBO – CHIEF JOHN NNIA NWODO
Sir, THE ROAD TO ANARCHY
It is with a heart full of trepidation and responsibility that Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide brings to your notice a potentially explosive situation in Anambra State of Nigeria.
The people of Umuawulu Community in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State saw four Fulani boys with six Ak-47 rifles slung on their shoulders and riding two motor cycles and trailed them to Isiagu Community also in Awka South LGA where they reside. When the news of the brazen wielding of firearms spread across the council area, as law-abiding citizens, the stakeholders there convened a crucial meeting with the police and Fulani leaders in the State and raised the matter for deliberation.
The stakeholders told the Fulani leaders in the presence of men of the State Investigation and Intelligence Bureau, SIIB, Awka that they were alarmed and surprised that their boys were flagrantly displaying arms in the public, unmindful of the legal implications of unlawful possession of firearms. The stakeholders expressed disappointment that security agencies did not make any attempt to arrest the offending Fulani boys, adding that if it were Igbo boys they would have been arrested, tortured and charged to court.
But rather than explain what led to the carrying of arms by the boys, or even apologise on behalf of the boys, the Fulani leaders told the stakeholders to do their worst and walked out on them, saying that their boys must always bear arms to protect themselves against religious, ethnic or tribal attacks from any quarters, and there is nothing anybody can do. This, in the presence of law enforcement agents and nothing was actually done to arrest either the Fulani boys or their leaders for overtly declaring war on the people of Anambra State.
The Inspector General of Police sir, Ohanaeze Ndigbo is alarmed by this wanton act because of the danger it portends. This raises the following questions:
1. Is the bearing of unlicensed firearms (especially sophisticated ones like Ak-47) no longer illegal and therefore punishable in breach in the laws of this country?
2. Do we now have different laws for different ethnic groups in Nigeria? If it were to be members of IPOB or any other group other than Fulani that bear such illegal arms what fate would befall them?
3. Does the impetuous action and utterance of the Fulani leaders not a clear and definite invitation to anarchy? If everybody in this country, irrespective of tribe, carries such firearms to protect himself, will the security agencies be able to contain the mayhem that will ensue?
4. Can the IGP imagine what fate that would have befallen any Igbo leaders in any part of the North who dare challenge their hosts and the police with such impunity and callousness? Mr Inspector General of Police sir, Ohanaeze Ndigbo believes that there is enough tension in the country already to allow room for more.
But, it is only a tree that they tell it will be cut down and it remains motionless waiting for the axe. The principle of self defense is even enshrined in the statutes of the country. Peaceful coexistence is a prerequisite for development. The police is by statute empowered, equipped and expected to make peace between two warring factions and not to take sides or protect one group.
The action of the police in Anambra State is, to say the least, despicable and a tacit invitation to anarchy. Except a coward, nobody will ever run away from his fatherland and leave it for another to occupy. Ndigbo are not cowards. The behaviour of the police probably explains why it is only police commisioners from a particular part of the country that are posted to Igbo land. This also tends to lay credence to the fears being harboured by our people that even the military laying siege on Igbo land are here to protect the interest of an ethnic group.
Not only have Ndigbo been marginalised in this country, they are even being pushed to the brink. It is always said that no country survives a second civil war. Like I always say, Ndigbo are ever capable of defending themselves. They will not fold their arms and allow gun-totting marauding Fulani herdsmen to continue harassing, raping, maiming and killing them in their own homes. We are law-abiding, hospitable and always ready to coexist with others as friends and brothers but not as foes and at a supreme price. Enough is enough.
Chief John Nnia Nwodo President General Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.