Nigeria not consistent with policies – Falana tackles Buhari on National Law on grazing routes


By Salim Yunusa

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, and the Senate spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, have opposed President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to reclaim land for open grazing, saying there is no national law on open grazing.

They said this during The Morning Show, a programme on ARISE NEWS Channel, saying that contrary to the impression the president has created, Nigeria has no national law on cattle grazing routes.

He spoke against the backdrop of Buhari’s response to a question in an exclusive interview with ARISE NEWS Channel last Thursday that he had directed Malami to get an old gazette on grazing routes and reclaim the land for open grazing by herdsmen.

He stated that the president may have been misinformed by those who told him that Nigeria had a gazetted law on cattle routes and called for sanction against those who had misinformed the president.

He said: “Before 1964, Nigeria had an indigenous political class that was ruling the affairs of the regions during the colonial master’s reign in Nigeria.

“That was when the grazing reserve law was enacted by the political class that was in charge of the northern region and the law was enacted for only the northern region, which was not applicable to all other regions of the country. The law was not enacted in the Western region, Mid-western region and the Eastern region.

At that time, regions like the Western region had ranches in Epe in the current Lagos State, Akunu in the current Ondo State, and Oke-Aku in the current Ekiti State. These ranches were established in 1956, under Obafemi Awolowo’s regime. We also had ranches in the Eastern region at that time. We had Obudu Ranch in the Eastern region that was established in 1951.

“So Nigeria does not have a uniform policy in animal husbandry and open grazing. So, the call by President Muhammadu Buhari, telling Malami to make available the country’s national gazette on cattle routes for open grazing is misinformation on the part of those who informed the president that Nigeria had a gazette on cattle routes for open grazing because Nigeria had none, except for the northern region that was not applicable to all other regions of the country that were autonomous at that time.”

Falana, however, said the grazing reserves of the First Republic had been seized by Ashanti farmers, adding that it would take a serious legal battle that would last for years, to reclaim them.

He said the Northern Governors’ Forum had earlier spoken against open grazing and had also announced that they had adopted the agriculture transformation plan of the federal government.

According to him, the federal government must be consistent with its policies, especially as it concerns open grazing since governance is a continuous process.

Giving reasons why Nigeria needs policy consistency, Falana said the government seemed not to be consistent with its policies, adding that inconsistency will lead to people’s mistrust.

He said in 2016, the then Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, had announced that the federal government had acquired 55,000 acres of land in 11 states for cattle rearing.

He said the same government later came up with the idea of a cattle colony also called Ruga.

He stated that Ruga was opposed by most state governors who felt it was a means through which the federal government will acquire their land.

Falana added that in 2018, the federal government and states came up with the National Livestock Transformation Plan that will cost N100 billion and the states will provide N20 billion while the federal government will provide N80 billion.

He stated that in 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had announced plans for Nigeria to ban the importation of milk because the country was spending between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion yearly on milk importation

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