The Nigerian Bar Association, some Senior Advocates of Nigeria and the Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, have cautioned the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), against the move to amend the Land Use Act.
While the NBA and senior lawyers, including Ifedayo Adedipe, Yusuf Ali and Tayo Oyetibo said the Federal Government’s move was unconstitutional, Makinde stated that he would not support it.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had on Thursday said the Federal Government was reviewing the Land Use Act of 1978.
Mustapha, who was represented by a permanent secretary in the Office of the SGF at the 51st annual conference of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers in Abuja, said the review would take out sections of the Act that inhibited economic development.
I won’t support violation of Land Use Act- Makinde
But Makinde said the Land Use Act of 1978 vested the control of land in each state in the governor.
He said he did not envisage anybody to take any step that would be contrary to this.
The governor, who said this on Wednesday through his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, while responding to an inquiry by one of our correspondents, said he would not support any step taken outside the constitution concerning the issue of land.
“As much as we know, the Land Use Act is a constitutional matter and the states must be involved in anything that has to do with its review.
“The act has vested the lands in the governor of the state and we don’t envisage anyone taking contrary steps.”
Land is our inheritance in S’East, we won’t support what hurts our people—Umahi
Also, the Ebonyi Government State said it would oppose the Federal Government’s move to review the Land Use Act, if other states in the country faulted it.
The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Ogodo Ali, stated this in Abakaliki on Tuesday, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.
The commissioner, “I am a man under command and whatever my governor says, is what I stand for. But I know that the Land Use Act cannot be reviewed just like that. And to review the Act, it has to go through a lot of processes.
“I am of the opinion that once the state governments begin to kick against this kind of move from the Federal Government, I know my own governor. He will oppose it.
“I heard him (my governor) speak today, that in the South-East, what our forefathers left for us is land. Some people bequeath gold and silver; but a few others, like in the South-East, bequeath land.
“And I know that my governor loves his people and he wouldn’t like anything to hurt his people and that was why he opposed Ruga. So, we have to toe the path where our people must be protected, without attacking any arm of the government.”
Move, unconstitutional – NBA
The Assistant Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Ferdinand Naza, while speaking to one of our correspondents on the intended review of the Land Use Act, said, “In Nigeria, there are procedures which have been laid down for the amendment of a law, such the Land Use Act in this case. According to the Nigerian constitution, only the National Assembly can review or amend the Land Use Act.
“If there is any proposed review to the Act, my advice to the President is that it should first be submitted to the floor of the National Assembly for debate.”
FG’s move suspicious, unconstitutional – SANs
Senior lawyers, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Wednesday, warned the President and the Federal Government, saying they could not singlehandedly review the Land Use Act,
Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), told one of our correspondents that, “ As a Nigerian citizen, I really worry about the obsession of our President over this grazing issue.
“At this point, it is important to state that people engaging in animal husbandry do so for their own personal benefits. Grazing is simply one of many private businesses run by individuals, not the government. It is really unfortunate that the President has chosen to obsess over this issue.”
Yusuf Ali (SAN), said, “The Land Use Act is part of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the constitution expressly states the method by which the Act can be reviewed. It is clear that the President cannot singlehandedly review a law; he has to first propose a review or amendment to the National Assembly before anything can be done.
“I am eager to see the changes the President wants to effect in the Land Use Act so I can ascertain the true purpose of this intended review.”
Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), stated, “The Land Use Act has been integrated into the constitution so the procedure for amending the Act invariably involves the National Assembly. Although the President can initiate this process, it has to first pass through the National Assembly; there is no other way.
“What matters the most is that the constitutional provisions for the amendment of an Act must be complied with.”