By Vincent Kalu, Magnus Eze And Lukman Olabiyi
More knocks came the way of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami yesterday in various reactions to his recent statement against ban on open grazing and call for restructuring.
Many groups and individuals carpeted the minister for comparing Fulani herdsmen and auto spare parts dealers.
Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay, said the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN is not an objective man. He describes Malami as a promoter of an agenda that is certainly not pan Nigeria, saying the minister is unfit for the office he occupies.
According to him, it is within the jurisdiction of the state and the governor to determine how land within the state is going to be used. He said the ban on open grazing is legal and valid, but it has to go through the House of Assembly.
Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) in his analysis said freedom of movement is for human beings, and not cattle and sheep. He added that the Northern elite, including the Attorney General, missed the point sorely when they compare Igbo peaceful spare-parts dealers who go about their normal spare parts business legitimately, with savage, maniacal AK-47-wielding herdsmen.
Ozekhome queried: “How does open and street grazing of cows by fully armed foot-patrolling youth which is now clearly anachronistic, diluvian, 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?
In its reaction, the National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe said the forum have no problem with the proposed ban on open grazing.
He said the ACF had discussed with the Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, noting that both parties agreed that ranching is the way to go.
Ohanaeze in a statement by its spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia on behalf of its President General, George Obiozor, condemned the remark by Malami but urged the Southern Governors to go ahead and put machinery in motion for the appropriate legal instruments in their respective states so that the open grazing law will become enforceable.
The Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, also lashed out at Malami saying he is unfit for the office of an Attorney General. The group, which spoke through its secretary-General, Sola Ebiseni said Malami was playing the role of an agent provocateur, inciting Northern Governors to place a ban on spare parts trading in which Southerners are involved.
“We in the Afenifere support the resolutions of the Southern Governors banning open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in our territory. Those who can cope with the destruction of farmlands and produce by animals and are also permissive of criminality by terrorist herdsmen are free to open their vast lands for such purposes,” he said.
National President of Association of South-East Town Unions (ASETU), Chief Emeka Diwe said Malami’s statement amounted to encouraging Northern Governors to ban spare parts business in retaliation to the ban on open grazing.
Also, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) said Malami cannot be a spokesman of the Northern Governors or be seen to be speaking for the North.
Leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Uchenna Madu, saw Malami’s statement as the continuation of Buhari’s “Fulanistic agenda of intimidating the indigenous peoples of Nigerian State through every available means, including irresponsible verbal talk.”
National Secretary of Agbekoya, Adegbenro Ogunlana, said the statement by Malami has confirmed that he was not Attorney General of Nigeria but Attorney General of Fulani.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Kunle Adegoke said Malami is a disgrace to the legal profession. He queried Malami’s competence as a lawyer and Attorney General of the Federation. The Rule of law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), which spoke through its executive director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, said Malami behaved as an irredentist unfit to be a lawyer or occupy public office.
A member of the Ekiti State Judicial Service Commission, Kabiru Akingbolu said the comparison made by the AGF on the legality of the ban on open gracing by the southern governors was not only baseless and ludicrous but also unfortunate.