From Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri
President Muhammadu Buhari has come under attack following his comments through Garba Shehu yesterday disregarding the ban on open grazing by the Southern Governors Forum.
The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, (COSEYL) in their statement through its President General ,Goodluck Ibem on Tuesday bared their fangs on the government,describing the comment as “unfortunate”.
Ibem said ” We are alarmed by the recent statement by the spokesman of the president Mr. Garba Shehu condemning the ban on open grazing by Southern governors.
“It is quite unfortunate that a man like Garba who should know better will make such statement because of tribal sentiments.
“We need to remind him that we are not in a military regime but a democratic system where power belongs to the people, for the people, and by the people. Under a democratic setting, you do not impose any strange practice on the people.
“The people has rights to demand for what they want and open grazing is not among the needs of the Southern part of Nigeria hence the ban by the southern governors. ” Ibem said.
He added “The southern governors are not military administrators appointed by a head of state as is been practiced under a military junta who have no powers or authority from the constitution to take decisions or make laws for the betterment of the people who elected them into office.
“Cattle rearing is a private business and not a government enterprise, so why is the presidency so interested in promoting open grazing even if it means killing all Nigerians because the fulani herdsmen must rear their cattles in peoples farms.
“The forests and bushes in the south where Fulani herders come to settle belongs to individuals, families and communities and the have the right to determine who stays in their property or lands. It is an offence and a criminal act for anyone to stay in another man’s property without the consent or approval of the owner.
“Anyone opposing the ban on open grazing or questioning the rights or powers by Southern governors is blinded by tribal sentiments . The Federal Government is meant to serve all Nigerians and not a particular tribe and so it is pertinent to re-examine their positions on National issues before making it public.
“We are in a federation and every state is entitled to practice or do businesses where it has comparative advantage. It is a violation of the law to impose cattle rearing or farming on all states of the federation. The states have rights to choose what the want.
“It smacks of a sinister motive the way the presidency is working night and day to build cattle colonies for Fulani herdsmen and their families in all the states of the Southern part of Nigeria under the cover of grazing reserves.
“The economy of the country is in comatose as a result of poor economic policies, incapable economic team, insecurity and other factors. It beats our imagination that instead of the presidency addressing these pressing issues, they are busy talking about an issue that has already been settled.
“The ban on open grazing by Southern governors is not mere politicking or illegal as said by the presidency through its spokesman Garbu Shehu, but the governors are saying the minds of the people who elected them and at the same time enforcing the law.
“On 17 April, 1969, Justice Adewale Thompson banned open grazing and warned of unprovoked killings by Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.
” In the said judgement by Justice Thompson he said
“I do not accept the contention of Defendants that a custom exists which imposes an obligation on the owner of farm to fence his farm whilst the owner of cattle allows his cattle to wander like pests and cause damage.
” Such a custom if it exists, is unreasonable and I hold that it is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and therefore unenforceable,in that it is highly unreasonable to impose the burden of fencing a farm on the farmer without the corresponding obligation on the cattle owner to fence in his cattle.
Sequence to that I banned open grazing for it is inimical to peace and tranquility and the cattle owners must fence or ranch their animals for peace to reign in these communities.” Ibem quoted.
“The Southern Governors just did the needful to end unprovoked killings by Fulani herdsmen . Ibem asserted.