Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Fulani herdsmen under the aegis of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria have dragged the Government of Oyo State, its House of Assembly and its Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to court over the recent Anti-Open Grazing Law passed in the state.
The herders described the law as a gross violation of their fundamental rights, and in the suit marked M/744/2019 they prayed the Oyo State High Court to declare the law illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.
Before the bill was passed by the House of Assembly and signed into law by Governor Seyi Makinde, the lawmakers had debated and organised a public hearing, during which many stakeholders submitted memoranda, including the Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria.
The Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, had said the law was made to check persistent clashes between local farmers and herdsmen in the state with a view to ensuring peace and food security.
In the suit, instituted in December 2019, the herdsmen want the court to grant them an order of perpetual injunction that would restrain all the respondents, whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers or otherwise, from carrying out any acts or omission which could likely aid the enactment or even enact or pass the anti-grazing bill into law as this would amount to a denial of their fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution of Nigeria, they argue.
They also prayed for a coordinated attempt or strategy at curtailing the livelihood of the applicants and further frustrating their lives in breach of constitutional provisions, particularly section 33(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) goes to nought and same is invalid, null and void.
They asked the court to grant them reliefs on aggravated, punitive and general damages of N100,000 against the respondents jointly and severally for the alleged violation of their fundamental rights.
According to the herders: “As a matter of cultural heritage, open rearing or grazing of livestock, having been passed onto generations to generations is the life and economy of the Fulani group on which the Fulani survives.”
When contacted on his mobile phone, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Prof Oyelowo Oyewo, said he was outside the country and he would respond appropriately when he returned to Nigeria soon.