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  Rightfully so, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is being criticized for saying in an interview that banning open grazing is like banning the sale of spare parts.
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Femi Falana (SAN), while calling the attorney general’s comparison of cows to humans nonsensical, also stated that;
“…the comparison is not applicable as the sellers of motor parts who operate in shops and markets in all states have not been accused of engaging in the killing of fellow citizens and destruction of their properties.”
It happened that on February 9, 2021, the Northern Governors Forum banned open grazing in all states in northern Nigeria. A consensus ban on open grazing of cattle in all of the 36 states of the Federation by the Nigeria Governors Forum also happened on February 11. Therefore, the pronouncement by the Southern Governors Forum is only cosmetic, at best. The communique mentioned nothing new. For the attorney general to now begin to allude to the wrong analogy comparing the free movement of cattle to people freely going about their respective businesses is fraudulent. If Malami could come forward with such a biased opinion for someone expected to defend all peoples of the nation, it shows the prejudice of some officials of the government at the centre towards a particular section of the country. It depicts that the rights of cattle are now being placed higher to supersede human right. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has equally rebutted the position of the Federal Government.
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In a statement released on 20th May, he said;
“We shall be most willing to meet him in Court. The decision to ban open grazing stays. It will be enforced with vigour.”
Not only is there a legal basis for the ban by the governors as the 1999 constitution grants the governors custody and control of the lands in their respective states. The Land Use Act corroborates the position that the governors have a right to determine the usage of the land in their domain. Likewise, as many State Assemblies such as Benue, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo and many others have already instituted laws banning open grazing in their states, could a mere pronouncement by the attorney general render useless its legality? A 52-year old high court pronouncement on open grazing remains unchallenged at the apex court. Hon. Justice Adewale Thompson’s 17th April 1969 judgment of suit no AB/26/66 on open cattle grazing at the Abeokuta Division of the High Court has since outlawed open cattle grazing in all lands in the federation. A part of the judgement reads:
“…I banned open grazing for it is inimical to peace and tranquillity and the cattle owners must fence or ranch their animals for peace to reign in these communities.”
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has already challenged and dared the attorney general to test the southern governors’ communique on open cattle grazing in a law court. The judicial arm of government might be better disposed to interpret the constitutionality of this knotty issue, and resolving it between the concerned parties by finally drawing the necessary lines. Featured Image Source: Business AM Live
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This article was first published on 4th June 2021


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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