NO GRAZING ROUTES IN THE SOUTH – FALANA
Legal luminary and Human Rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has told the Federal Government that grazing routes never existed in Southern Nigeria, and there is nothing to recover.
He was reacting to news report that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was intent on recovering grazing routes for pastoralists across Nigeria.
President Buhari had said publicly that he had directed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN to dust up an alleged gazette, allocating grazing routes to herders across the country.
Falana said that Federal Government can’t possibly be searching for grazing routes to recover in the Southern part of the country, because none ever existed. He said contrary to President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim, there is no gazette, establishing grazing routes for herders in Nigeria.
“They can’t be searching for grazing routes in the South, because Southern Nigeria never had them. There is also no gazette establishing grazing routes in Nigeria. What they are implementing is the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), which has commenced in four states of Kaduna, Nasarawa, Borno, and Niger.
“Kano is doing its own under a different name. Under the scheme, even schools are to be built for the children of the pastoralists. Let nobody deceive anyone. There had never been grazing routes in Southern Nigeria, even when the regions existed.”
When asked if he had any idea of where the routes, being sought for recovery, could be, Falana said what the North had, during the region system, was the Grazing Reserves Law of 1964, only applicable to the Northern Region. The law, already supplanted by the Land Use Act, had no general application because Western, Midwestern and Eastern, had ranches for animal husbandry, he explained.
“Armed herders are killing people. This is a problem that can be solved scientifically. Today, the governors of Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina States have banned the interstate movement of cattle. Which is a ban on open grazing. The Kano State government is investing massively on RUGA settlement.
“In July, President Buhari gave N6.2 billion to Katsina State government for ranching, so if you are giving money for ranching to Katsina, why are you now looking for grazing routes in other states? Grazing reserves in other states? In any case, the Federal Government never had grazing reserve or grazing route. They were owned by the government of old Northern region. And we are talking of the 19 Northern states now. So, what the Federal Government never had cannot be reclaimed. This problem should be left to the states, because, aside from the Federal Capital Territory, the land in every state is vested in the state Governor on behalf of the people. So, the Federal Government should not continue to cause problem for our people.
“The Governors are solving this problem; the Northern Governors forum and the Southern Governor’s forum have kicked against opened grazing. Because ranching is the way to go. And ranching is part of the National Livestock Transformation Plan of the federal government. So, why is the Federal Government talking about grazing reserves? They belong to the past.”