The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, came under attacks yesterday for comparing open grazing to spare parts.
Malami, in an interview with Channels Television on Wednesday, had likened the southern governors’ resolution at its recent meeting in Asaba, Delta State, to ban open grazing to prohibiting spare parts trading in the north.
According to hum, the decision to ban open grazing “does not hold water” in the context of human rights as enshrined in the constitution.
“It’s about constitutionality within the context of the freedoms expressed in our constitution. Can you deny the rights of a Nigerian?
“For example, it’s as good as saying, perhaps, the northern governors coming together to say they prohibit spare parts trading in the north. Does it hold water for a northern governor to come and state expressly that he now prohibits spare parts trading in the north?”
Reacting yesterday, the chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, described Malami’s opposition to the ban on open gracing as “wicked and arrogant”, saying: “It’s most unfortunate that the AGF is unable to distill issues as expected of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Nothing can be more disconcerting.”
Akeredolu, in a statement, said the decision to ban open grazing was irrevocable as it was taken in the interest of the people.
“The decision to ban open grazing stays. It’ll be enforced with vigour. Mr Malami is advised to approach the court to challenge the legality of the laws of the respective states banning open grazing and the decision of the Southern Governor Forum taken in the interest of their people. We’ll be most willing to meet him in court.”
.Malami must go – Senator
Senate spokesman, Ajibola Basiru, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Malami for “less than dignifying” argument of equating open grazing with southerners selling spare parts in the north.
Ajibola, in his capacity as a senator, said such a remark was not dignifying of the status of the nation’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.
He said equating the activities of nomadic herdsmen destroying people’s means of livelihood with other people legitimately selling spare parts in their shops stood logic on its head.
He said Malami’s comment was capable of derailing the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria.
Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, in a statement by his spokesman, Uchenna Awom, said it was disheartening that “Malami has chosen to debase our country.”
Umahi slams critics of open grazing ban
The chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, said critics of the ban on open grazing in the south wanted killings to continue.
Speaking yesterday at a press briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the State House in Abuja, Umahi said allowing cows to move freely would mean trespassing on people’s property as the south had no grazing routes.
He said: “These foreign herders also come as mobile herders with AK47, and that’s the source of conflicts. They’re pretending that they’re rearing cattle and they’re killing people. In my village, a white man handling construction was kidnapped. I don’t support cattle to move from one state to the other.
“Let’s treat this cattle rearing as a business. Take money from federation account and develop ranches. There are designated ranches in the north. The northern governors are willing but are being frustrated. We want to live in peace. We want to live as brothers and sisters. When people go to other areas, they buy land, they rent a shop. That’s how businesses are done. You don’t enter people’s land without their knowledge. It’s not done anywhere. I don’t think there’s any southeast person that enters any region and sets up a business without proper permission. So, that’s the truth about the open grazing thing. I think people misunderstand it. They don’t really understand what we mean.”
Afenifere, Falana, Adegboruwa knock AGF
The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, in a state by its Secretary-General, Sola Ebiseni said Malami’s “sectarian and emotional vituperations pitiably expose him as being most unfit for the office of an Attorney-General having always allowed his sectarian disposition to becloud his eminent qualifications.
“Malami does not want serious-minded people to accord him and his high office each time he accepts to play the roles of errand boy and spokesperson of the Miyetti Allah and their herders’ members.
“Each time Malami perceives a threat to the interests of Fulani herdsmen, he’s quick to latch on to constitutional provisions which are not relevant to the object of discourse.”
Similarly, human rights lawyers, Femi Falana (SAN) and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) also faulted Malami’s stance.
Falana said comparing car spare parts trading with open grazing was not applicable since car spare parts traders pay rents and had been known to be peaceful in their conduct.
“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,” Falana said.
Adegboruwa, in a statement titled: ‘Prohibition of Open Grazing is Constitutional’, said the ban on open grazing was constitutional, adding that Malami lacked the powers to make proclamations for Nigeria.
“The proponents of open grazing support it with the right to freedom of movement granted under Section 41 of the constitution. This section cannot be interpreted to violate other constitutional provisions, especially Section 43 that grants the right to private or public property,” he said.
MACBAN patron, Walid Jubrin, backs open grazing ban
The National Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Senator Walid Jubrin, yesterday backed the resolution of the governors banning open grazing, saying it would help to address farmers-herders crises.
Jibrin, at a press conference in Kaduna, said cattle rearing had been in Africa for over 100 years without any consideration for free movement of cattle nor any grazing reserve because at that time, there were few herders, farmers and cattle, especially in Nigeria.
Jibrin, who is also the Sarkin Fulani Nasarawa, said with the current international concern on cattle rearing in Africa, especially Nigeria, there was need to look at how best the practice would be carried out successfully.
He said: “We must note that land in Nigeria is owned by individuals, the federal and state governments.
“When you look at the practice of open grazing in Nigeria compared to what is happening Internationally, Nigeria can never continue with traditional open grazing practice. In order to effect a change, the Fulani elite should be bold enough to come out with alternatives to open grazing and advise the Fulanis in Nigeria accordingly,” he said.
“The federal and state governments should come to the rescue by providing grazing reserve centres equipped with hospitals, nomadic schools, electricity, bore holes, cattle markets with modern slaughtering centres and open markets for our Fulani women to enable them remain in one place to sell milk instead of their house to house roaming about exposing our rich culture and religion.”
Meanwhile, when contacted to react to the criticisms trailing Malami’s comments, his spokesman, Umar Gwandu, promised to get back to Daily Trust, but he did not, as of the time of filing this report (11.20pm).