Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) alleged, yesterday, that the Federal Government may send a bill to the National Assembly, to repeal, or amend, the Land Use Act.
SMBLF said the main purpose of the amendment or repeal would be to take over the control of lands in the country, from state governors, all in a bid to implement the Ruga settlement scheme for herders.
With the new law, if it passes in the National Assembly, according to SMBLF, the road would be clear for government to implement the suspended Ruga project.
The forum said it gathered that the FG suspended the Ruga Settlement Programme due to the Act which restricted its access to land.
SMBLF urged southern lawmakers in the National Assembly to be vigilant and guard against the introduction of any bill intended to repeal or amend the Land Use Act.
The forum said this in a statement released by co-spokespersons: Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South), Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), in Abuja, yesterday.
“It is being alleged that there will be moves to repeal the Land Use Act in the (Ruga) suspension period so the Federal Government can have authority over land which is currently under the states.
“We therefore call on all our members in the National Assembly to be vigilant about any surreptitious bill that may be introduced to tamper with control of land and thwart such without any waste of time.
“The 2014 National Conference debated this issue at length and resolved to retain the Land Use Act in the Constitution.”
The forum further warned southern lawmakers against passing the ‘Bill to establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria,’ sponsored by the executive, noting that it was meant to give the FG sole authority and control over the nation’s rivers and underground water.
“When this obnoxious Water Bill is taken alongside the Ruga programme and the speculated assault on Land Use Act, the internal colonialism agenda is complete and we would have no one but ourselves to blame if we don’t effect our no-pasaran (They shall not pass — a slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy).
“It is pertinent to ask why the FG is not going ahead with Ruga in some northern states that have accepted the policy if the whole idea was not about land-grabbing in the South and Middle Belt states,” SMBLF said.
The southern and middle belt elders alleged that government’s support for local government autonomy was hinged on the Ruga scheme to allow “aliens” to take over allotted land under the programme,” and vowed to step up opposition to the project.
They insisted on outright cancellation of tthe settlement scheme