By Eric Elezuo
Nigerians from all walks of life have held the Minister of Justice and Attorney Generation of the Federation, Malam Abubakar Malami, accountable for his utterance against the proposed ban on open grazing by southern governors.
The Minister had said in response that banning open grazing in the south is equivalent to banning spare parts sales in the north.
The comment has since generated unsavory reactions from the members of the public as follows:
Ban on Open Grazing Has Come to Stay, Akeredolu Replies Malami
The Ondo State governor and Chairman, Southwest Governors Forum, Olakunri Rotimi Akeredolu, has lambasted the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar for comparing open grazing and sale of spare parts, saying that the ban of open grazing will not be revoked as it has come to stay.
The governor was speaking via a statement against the backdrop of comments credited to the AGF which ridiculed the meeting, last week of southern governor and comparing open grazing in the south to sale of spare parts in the north.
“Comparing this anachronism, which has led to loss of lives, farmlands and property, and engendered untold hardship on the host communities, with buying and selling of auto parts is not only strange. It, annoyingly, betrays a terrible mindset,” Akeredolu said.
Declaring Malami’s utterances as unfortunate, Akeredolu said the Chief law officer is “unable to distill issues as expected of a Senior Advocate.”
The governor further advised the AGF is seek redress in court if he is so offended with the southern governors decision to ban open grazing.
“Mr Malami is advised to approach the court to challenge the legality of the Laws of the respective States baning open grazing and decision of the Southern Governor Forum taken in the interest of their people. We shall be most willing to meet him in Court,” he said.
The full statement:
OUR DECISION IS IRREVERSIBLE AND WILL BE ENFORCED
I have just read the press statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Shehu Malami SAN on the resolution of the Southern Governors Forum to ban open grazing in their respective States. The AGF is quoted to have said that this reasoned decision, among others, is akin to banning all spare parts dealers in the Northern parts of the country and is unconstitutional.
It is most unfortunate that the AGF is unable to distill issues as expected of a Senior Advocate. Nothing can be more disconcerting. This outburst should, ordinarily, not elicit response from reasonable people who know the distinction between a legitimate business that is not in anyway injurious and a certain predilection for anarchy. Clinging to an anachronistic model of animal husbandry, which is evidently injurious to harmonious relationship between the herders and the farmers as well as the local populace, is wicked and arrogant.
Comparing this anachronism, which has led to loss of lives, farmlands and property, and engendered untold hardship on the host communities, with buying and selling of auto parts is not only strange. It, annoyingly, betrays a terrible mindset.
Mr Malami is advised to approach the court to challenge the legality of the Laws of the respective States baning open grazing and decision of the Southern Governor Forum taken in the interest of their people. We shall be most willing to meet him in Court.
The decision to ban open grazing stays. It will be enforced with vigour.
ARAKUNRIN OLUWAROTIMI O AKEREDOLU, SAN
GOVERNOR, ONDO STATE
Resign Now, You’re Rubbishing Buhari’s Govt – Senator Tells Malami
Spokesman of the Senate, Ajibola Basiru, has said the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, is “rubbishing” the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Basiru said this in reaction to comments credited to the AGF.
On Wednesday, Malami said the resolve to ban open grazing by southern governors is equivalent to prohibiting spare parts trading in the north.
The southern governors resolved to ban open grazing last week.
In a statement on Thursday, Basiru said Malami has no business occupying the office of the AGF, adding that the responsibility to promote unity should be that of everyone.
The senator said equating the activities of nomadic herdsmen destroying peoples’ means of livelihood with others legitimately “carrying on businesses by selling spare parts in their shops stands logic on its head”.
“Anyone who cannot rise above primordial sentiments and pursue a parochial ethnic agenda need not occupy a position of trust especially at this time of sectional agitations,” he said.
“It was not dignifying of the status of the nation’s attorney-general and minister of justice to make such remarks.
“Those who have no meaningful contributions to national discourse operating on the basis of equity and justice to keep quiet and stop rubbishing the Buhari-led APC government.
“These kind of statements have made Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of Nations and they ridicule the administration of President Buhari. These statements are not giving hope to those at the receiving end of the activities of the herdsmen.”
Malami’s Comment Divisive, Exposes a Dangerous Mindset – Abaribe
Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has said that the comment by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, on spare parts trade exposes a “dangerous mindset” that promotes division.
Abaribe was reacting to Malami’s comments on the resolve to ban open grazing in the south, which the AGF said is equivalent to prohibiting spare parts trading in the north.
The AGF made the comment when he appeared on a Channels Television programme on Wednesday.
In a statement on Thursday, the senate minority leader said there is no correlation between spare parts sellers in a rented shop, and those involved in open grazing.
“What’s the correlation between spare parts sellers in a rented shop or government properly designated area and marauding Fulani herders destroying farms, killing and raping thus trampling on people’s private properties and means of livelihood?” Uchenna Awom, his media aide, quoted Abaribe as saying.
“Such a divisive statement from a top federal government official, in fact, the chief legal adviser to the federal government at that, exposes a very dangerous mindset.
“This disposition has, no doubt, raised the tension in Nigeria to a frightening level. Why should an attorney-general of the federation be so fixated on evoking ethnic/regional fault lines when duty calls for him to be a statesman.
“It is disheartening that Mr Abubakar Malami has chosen to debase our country. He has indeed questioned Nigeria’s unity. Very unfortunate.”
Is it a Crime to be Igbo in Nigeria? Fani-Kayode Fires at Malami
Following the controversial comments credited to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Malam Abubakar Malami, a former Minister of Aviation and PDP chieftain, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has lent his voice to the avalanche of criticisms trailing the Minister.
The AGF while fielding on a live television programme, had compared open grazing in the south to sale of spare parts in the north.
Taking to his twitter handle Fani-Kayode asked if it was a crime to be Igbo, saying it was inherently racist to compare spare part dealers to killer herdsmen.
“It is totally unacceptable and deeply and inherently racist to compare spare part dealers to killer herdsmen.
“Permit me to ask: is it a CRIME to be Igbo in Nigeria? We killed millions of them (including their children) over the last 61 years. We terrorised them.
“We traumatised them. We insulted them. We denied them. We deprived them. We dehumanised them.
“We mocked them. We criminalised them. We marginalised them. We humiliated them. We forced them to stay when they wanted to leave.
“We caged them. We broke them. We cheated them. It is ungodly. It is evil! It is totally and completely unacceptable.
“It erroneously depicts us as a nation of unrepentant barbarians, savages and sadists that have no sense of justice or decency and that is NOT who or what we are as a people! We are far better than that!
“As long as we have this utterly racist, bigoted, shameless and self-deprecating mindset about our Igbo compatriots and fellow human beings things cannot go well for us as a people and as a nation. This is the bitter truth”.
Freedom of Movement is for Human Beings, Not Cattle and Sheep – Mike Ozekhome
The Northern elites, including the Hon Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, miss the point sorely when they compare Igbo peaceful spare-parts dealers who go about their normal spare parts business legitimately, (building or renting their shops), with savage, maniacal AK-47-wielding herdsmen. Igbo traders do not kill or attack Northerners with their stock of motor-tyres, rims, spanners or chasis. They do not pour petrol from fuel tanks that they sell, on Fulani herdsmen. They do not use car bumpers or wind shields to smash the heads of herdsmen.
How does open and street grazing of cows by fully armed foot-patrolling youth which is now clearly anachronistic, diluvian, primitive and antiquated, be likened to legitimate spare parts business being carried out in shops or designated areas, with the Igbo traders paying tenement rate, taxes, water electricity and light bills? Have you ever heard of any herder paying tax? How do you equate spare parts dealers with mindless violence unleashed on poor helpless and hapless farmers in their own farms, and destruction of their crops with reckless abandon by these rampaging nomadic pastoralists who are on a mission of conquest and expansionism?
How do you compare apples with oranges, by equating Igbo spare parts dealers (who maintain log books, cash books, and accounting systems in their secluded and approved environments of peace and tranquility), with rampaging fully armed murderous bandits (passing for headers), who unleash terror and mayhem on innocent citizens? These open grazers kidnap travelers on the way, invade homes, rape mothers and their daughters and slash people’s throats, unprovoked, unmolested and undisturbed? Do Igbo traders overrun Northerners or Fulanis in their homes? Is it not the spaces legally allotted to them by the Federal Government, Local Governments, cities or MDAs, that they legitimately and quietly operate from?
How do armed herders who freely trespass on people lands, destroy their crops and other means of livelihood, and slaughter them, compare with peaceful traders plying their legitimate business? Do spare parts dealers pose security threat to their host, or anyone else? The Igbos do not foist any pre-determined supremacist hegemony and irredentism agenda or other races as the herders (many of them from neighbouring countries) are currently doing.
Freedom of movement is only for human beings. It is not for cattle, sheep and goats. Will the Northerners tolerate the open sale of alcoholic beverages in their States, even though it is the constitutional right of other ethnic groups to move about and sell beverages of their choice.
Are these Northern elites seriously arguing that Southern State Governors cannot ban open grazing in their states, to protect their innocent citizens from deadly killer herdsmen?
The freedom of movement guaranteed in section 41 of the Constitution (though for human beings, not animals), is not even absolute at all. Section 45 is pretty straightforward as regards derogation from section 41. It provides:
“(1) Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invaluidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society:
(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.”
Thus, the right to movement in section 42 of the Constitution can be overridden by section 45 of the Constitution which allows any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health. Considering the incessant cases of Boko Haram killings, maiming, stealing, kidnappings, rape, armed banditry and robbery foisted on the Southern part of the country, Southern leaders have rightly taken it upon themselves to put in place laws and measures that will protect their citizens. To this end, it is safe to assert that individual rights to movement have not in anyway been violated by the various states’ anti-grazing laws because the laws were enacted in the interest of public safety, public order, public defence and public morality. The laws of and declaration by the Southern Governors are also to protect the peace, privacy and homes of Southerners as highlighted in section 37 of the 1999 Constitution. They are also for the “purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons”.
You Are Wrong, Malami – Femi Falana
A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has countered the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN over his comment that banning of open grazing is unconstitutional.
In a statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer, Falana said right to movement under section 41 and 43 of the constitution does not cover free movement of animals to destroy farmlands.
He said, “The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN was reported yesterday to have condemned the ban on open grazing by the Southern Governors Forum. The AGF stated that the ban on open grazing is unconstitutional as it affects the right of herders to move freely in the country.
With respect, the ban on open grazing has not affected the rights of herders to move freely and acquire land in any state for the establishment of ranches in line with the provisions of sections 41 and 43 of the Constitution. Since the Constitution does not cover the right of animals to move freely and destroy farmlands it is grossly misleading to give the impression that the ban on open grazing has abrogated the right of herders to carry out their business.”
In addition, Falana explained that the Minister of Agriculture and relevant state commissioners are empowered by several laws to regulate the movement of animals
“With respect to the movement of animals in the country the Animal Diseases (Control) Act and similar laws applicable in the states have empowered the Minister of Agriculture and relevant State Commissioners to make appropriate regulations to regulate the movement of animals and prevent them from transmitting diseases.” Falana said
The Learned silk also faulted the analogy that banning of open grazing is likened to stopping of sale of spare parts. According to Falana, sellers of spare parts do not kill fellow citizens neither do they destroy properties
He said, “The AGF equally said that banning open grazing is like banning the sale of spare parts. 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. Besides, those who sell spare parts outside their states of origin either acquire properties or pay rent for the their lawful business.”
Falana further clarified that the 36 Governors of the Federation have at various times banned open grazing. He said the first decision banning open grazing was made by the governors during National Economic Council meeting on April 27, 2018 while the second was in 2019 by the Northern Governors Forum
The statement reads in part, “However, in order to halt the incessant violent clashes between farmers and herders which had led to mindless killings and wanton destruction of properties in many parts of the country the federal government and the 36 state governments have, at various fora, banned open grazing in all states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
In view of the desperate moves of some members of the geo- political class to divide the Nigerian people along regional basis it is pertinent to draw the attention of the members of the public to the following reports:
“1. On April 27, 2018, the members of the National Economic Council resolved to ban open grazing and adopt the Livestock Transformation Plan of the Federal Government. The National Economic Council is constituted by the Vice President, the 36 State Governors, the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank Governor. (https://m.guardian.ng/news/ne c-bans-open-grazing-as-herdsme n-attacks-persist/)
2. On February 9, 2021, the Northern Governors Forum banned open grazing in all states in Northern Nigeria. https://www.vanguardngr.com/20 21/02/insecurity-northern-gove rnors-seek-end-to-open-grazing/
3. On February 11, 2021 the Nigeria Governors Forum banned open grazing in all the 36 states of the Federation. https://thenationonlineng.net/ 36-governors-agree-to-end-noma dic-cattle-rearing/
4. On May 14, 2021 the Southern Governors Forum banned open grazing in the 17 states in Southern Nigeria. https://m.guardian.ng/news/sou thern-governors-ban-open-grazi ng-call-for-restructuring/
5. On May 18, the PDP Governors Forum endorsed the decision to ban open grazing in the entire country. http://thesouthernexaminer.com /pdp-governors-endorse-ban-on- open-grazing-p5388-214.htm
“Based on the ban on open grazing, not fewer than 24 states governments have submitted applications to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for grant to facilitate the establishment of ranches in line with the Livestock Transformation Plan of the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano State has invited herders who are adversely affected by the ban on open grazing to settle down in the Ruga Settlement established by the State Government. While commission the first batch of 25 housing units out of the 200 earmarked for RUGA settlement the Governor said that his government engaged in the project for two fundamental reasons: “first and foremost is to avoid clashes between farmers and herders, secondly to avoid movement of herders which is the source of conflict and to avoid cattle rustling.” (https://www.thecable.ng/gandu je-invites-more-herders-to-kan o-as-he-inaugurates-ruga-settl ement/amp).”
Falana urged Malami to, being Attorney-General of the Federation, respect sensibilities of persons when issuing statements and should stand up for social justice
“Mr. Malami should be reminded that he is the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, in making statements he should always take due regards of the sensibilities of every part of the country and respect all legitimate interests of the entire people of the country.