Few days after the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that banning open grazing in the south is like banning spare parts trading in the north, President Muhammadu Buhari has also stressed that the governors’ ban in their respective states is of “questionable legality, given the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT)…”
Chijioke Okoli, SAN:
“Buhari can hardly do better than his Attorney General whose view on the same matter is so palpably wrong and baseless that even non lawyers have been calling him out. Beyond the issue of the obviously strange constitution they are reading and interpreting in the Presidency, the statement is as divisive as it is irresponsible in the extreme.
“We seem to have forgotten that the Northern Governors Forum and especially Governor Ganduje have repeatedly called for an end to open grazing in the country, especially in the South. But the Presidency kept mute to those calls. It has now found its voice in a pathetic attempt to intimidate those southern governors. But it lacks the capacity because in the eyes of reasonable people, the Buhari Presidency has become denuded of legitimacy with groups even within its base or constituency calling for the President’s resignation or impeachment.
Kunle Edun, lawyer:
The law is settled that the governors of the various states hold lands in the states as trustees for the people of the various states. The Federal Government does not have that mandate but it can apply to the state governors for land. Land in the various states is not amongst the items in the Exclusive Legislative list that the Federal government can legislate on. Grazing is also not a matter within the Exclusive Legislative List. It is unfortunate that the Federal government has not been given the benefit of good and unbiased legal advice.
“Cattle rearing is a private business just like any other business. If some states can ban alcohol without the Federal government making any statement on it, why take an opposing position on the ban on open grazing which some states in the North, Arewa group and even herders association have all said earlier that open grazing is outdated and has caused alot of calamities? I think this is politics taken too far and should not be encouraged by all true patriots of Nigeria.
Ajibola Basiru, SAN:
“The AGF is pursuing a parochial, ethnic agenda. He is not worthy to occupy such a position of trust. The comment was not dignifying of the status of the nation’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. Equating the activities of archaic nomadic herdsmen destroying people’s means of livelihood with others legitimately carrying on businesses by selling spare parts in their shops stands logic on its head.”
Dele Igbinedion, lawyer:
“Well, President Buhari obviously has a different constitution from the rest of us. He is definitely not referring to the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as there is certainly no provision therein that allows one person or group to openly enter and graze their cattle on other people’s lands.”
Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN:
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, is wrong to compare open grazing ban in Southern Nigeria with the prohibition of spare parts trading in the northern part of the country. Spare parts traders are civil, organised and responsible members of the public who pay taxes but herders do not remit any amount to the government.
The northern elites, including Malami missed the point sorely when they compared Igbo peaceful spare parts dealers who go about their normal business legitimately, (building or renting their shops), with savage, maniacal AK-47-wielding herdsmen.
“Igbo traders do not kill or attack northerners with their stock of motor tyres, rims, spanners or chassis. They do not pour petrol from fuel tanks that they sell, on Fulani herdsmen. They do not use car bumpers or wind shields to smash the heads of herdsmen. How does open and street grazing of cows by fully armed foot-patrolling youth which is now clearly anachronistic, primitive and antiquated, be likened to legitimate spare parts business being carried out in shops or designated areas, with the Igbo traders paying tenement rate, taxes, water electricity and light bills?”
Have you ever heard of any herder paying tax?
“How do you equate spare parts dealers with mindless violence unleashed on poor helpless and hapless farmers in their own farms, and destruction of their crops with reckless abandon by these rampaging nomadic pastoralists who are on a mission of conquest and expansionism?
“Freedom of movement is only for human beings. It is not for cattle, sheep and goats. Will the Northerners tolerate the open sale of alcoholic beverages in their states, even though it is the constitutional right of other ethnic groups to move about and sell beverages of their choice? Are these Northern elites seriously arguing that Southern State Governors cannot ban open grazing in their states, to protect their innocent citizens from deadly killer herdsmen?”
“The 17 southern governors should immediately sue the Federal Government, invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under section 232 of the 1999 Constitution. They should ask for a determination of their right to preserve their states from insecurity and the state assemblies should quickly back open grazing bans through instrument of law.”