Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria have reacted to the President’s order to review 368 grazing sites in 25 states across the country.
The lawyers in a separate interview with our correspondent urged the concerned states to consult their Attorneys-General on the best course of action, saying the Federal Government’s attempt to take over state lands ought to be challenged in court.
Recall that some governors, under the aegis of the Southern Governors Forum, had earlier expressed their dissatisfaction over the insistence of President Buhari. on reviewing 368 grazing sites across the country despite widespread opposition.
In a meeting held on May 11, the Southern governors in a 12-point communiqué decried the incessant killings and rape perpetrated by armed herdsmen, insisting on the ban f open grazing in order to curb a looming national crisis.
Reacting to the Federal Government’s planned move, Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, said Nigerians need to recognise that cattle rearing was a private business, hence, the Federal Government should not be overly interested in it.
Adedipe said, “It is very difficult for me to understand the persistence of the President on this issue of cattle grazing. Besides, the leaders of the Miyetti Allah, which is the umbrella body for cattle rearers in Nigeria, have agreed that ranching is the way forward. Also, some of the Northern governors have supported the idea of ranching.
“The big question now is, what is the motivation of the President? Does he want to precipitate a crisis?”
He then urged Nigerians to remember that the Federal Government does not own any state land.
According to him, under the Land Use Act, only the state government has the power to handle matters related to land.
“Without the permission of the state government, the Federal Government cannot create grazing routes in a state.
“If the Federal Government makes any further attempt to take over state lands without their governors’ permission, then the matter will end up in court. The President will oon find out that this is a democratic administration governed by the constitution, and not by military fiat,” Adedipe said.
He then advised the concerned governors to consult their Attorneys-General or legal advisers on the best course of action.
Also, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, said since every state in Nigeria has an Attorney-General, it is the duty of the Attorneys-General to advise governors on the best decisions to make.
“It is humiliating that terrorists were able to gain access to the Nigerian Defence Academy, indicating a grave security lapse. Cattle grazing should not be our priority at this point,” Awomolo stated.
Similarly, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section of Public Interest and Development Law, Monday Ubani, said every sane person should be worried that the President was taking such a position, considering the gravity of the issue and the prevailing security challenges in the country.
He said, “It is surprising that the President, who is supposed to desire peace, is the one instigating crises by his decisions, despite the position of the governors on the issue of cattle grazing.
“If the governors who are in charge of the lands within their jurisdiction have opposed what the President himself is trying to pursue, then it means the President is clearly in the minority.”
Ubani subsequently advised the governors to ask their Attorneys-General to start a case against the Federal Government, since the President could not impose any policy contrary to the provisions of the constitution on the state governments.
“As it is, the Supreme Court should have original jurisdiction over the issue in order to decide what happens next.
“The governors have already enacted laws in their various states banning open grazing. If the Federal Government wants to go against these laws, despite the destruction and killings perpetrated by armed herders, then the best thing to do is to initiate legal proceedings and let the court deliver its verdict,” Ubani said.