Ebun - Olu to Malami : Herders, Cattle Not Permitted To Violate Others' Right To Own Farmlands - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Thursday, May 20, 2021

Ebun - Olu to Malami : Herders, Cattle Not Permitted To Violate Others' Right To Own Farmlands


...Prohibition of Open Grazing is Constitutional 



From Godwin Akomah, Lagos 

Lagos lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, has said that the prohibition of Open Grazing of cattle in the Southern geopolitical zone of the country is constitutional and faulted the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who argues that the constitution allows freedom of movement.

About 17 Southern governors had in their May 11 meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, "observed that the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the Southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives including pursuing various productive activities leading to a threat to food supply and general security. Consequently, the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria."

They also "noted that development and population growth has put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South. And given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot)."

But reacting to the ban, the AGF on Wednesday slammed the Southern governor, saying the prohibition of open grazing cannot happen under the constitution as it is akin to the northern governors outlawing selling of motor spare parts in their region. 

He said : “It is about constitutionality. Within the context of the freedoms enshrined in our constitution, can you deny a right of a Nigerian? It is as good as saying may be the Northern governors coming together to say that they prohibit spare parts trading in the North. Does it hold water? Does it hold water for a Northern governor to come and state expressly that he now prohibits spare parts trading in the North?”

However, the activist lawyer Adegboruwa said Malami cannot deploy the right to movement of person and cattle to violate the right of another citizen to own property, such as land or farmland as it  would become a trespassing matter. 

Using his official facebook page,  Adegboruwa noted that the Constitution has not yet assigned any role to the AGF to make proclamations for the country and advised the Houses of Assembly of the States that have proscribed open grazing go ahead to make laws to support their declarations. 

He also urged the Southern Governors to proceed speedily, with the implementation of their lawful and courageous declarations and not be misled, intimidated or distracted by the comments from the federal government or its agent.

Adegboruwa said : "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.

"You cannot deploy the right to movement of person and cattle to violate the right of another citizen to own property, such as land or farmland, or else you become a trespasser. It is in this regard that I disagree with the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, when he said that the ban on open grazing is unconstitutional. That cannot represent a proper interpretation of the Constitution, with all due respect.

"The AGF is a member of the Executive arm of government, under section 5 of the Constitution. The Constitution has not assigned any role to the AGF to make proclamations for the country. To that extent, his comment is ultra vires, being beyond and outside his office as a Minister. The role of interpreting the Constitution is the exclusive preserve of the Courts under the Constitution.

"Let the Houses of Assembly of the States that have proscribed open grazing go ahead to make laws to support their declarations. It is only after then that the AGF can approach the court for judicial interpretation.

"I urge the Governors to proceed speedily, with the implementation of their lawful and courageous declarations and not be misled, intimidated or distracted by the comments from the federal government.

"There is no doubt that we cannot generalize, to say that all “Fulani herdsmen” are guilty of violence and destruction, but we must tackle those criminals who have invaded their ranks, for other purposes other than grazing. Truth is, genuine Fulani herdsmen offer food, dairy, employment and prosperity for the land and this is desirable. The ban on open grazing is therefore necessary to protect the genuine herdsmen and help preserve their vocation from the marauders."




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