In reaction to President Buhari’s support for open grazing in the country, an All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator representing Osun Central, Ajibola Basiru, said such law has never existed in the Nigerian constitution.
In an interview with Arise TV, last Thursday, the President said he had instructed the Attorney-General of the Federation, to dig out the gazette that shows there were cattle routes in the First Republic for herders.
“What I did was to ask him to go and dig the gazette of the First Republic when people were obeying laws. There were cattle routes and grazing areas. Cattle routes were for when they (herdsmen) were moving up country, north to south or east to west. They had to go through there.”
This statement has attracted a lot of condemnations from Southern Governors, lawmakers and critics.
Reiterating his recent stance on the issue, Senator Ajibola said the President has been wrongly advised about the issue. Adding that there has not been a law establishing and enforcing grazing routes in the country.
He said: “Further to my earlier comment in my personal capacity, as a Senator Representing Osun Central Senatorial District, on the debate over the statement by President Mohammadu Buhari that the President said he has instructed the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to gazette the law on grazing-routes, I reiterate my earlier position that the President, with all respect, has not received well informed and proper legal advise from his Attorney General and the legal team.
“As a patriot, a Distinguished Senator and someone sworn to uphold the Nigerian Constitution and in view of the apparent interest of Nigerians on the subject matter, it is pertinent to make the following elucidation, Neither in the North nor in the South, is there a law creating grazing-routes either as a state law or federal law. It is rather unfortunate that our President has been misadvised on this matter.
“The Grazing Reserves Laws in some states created from the former Northern Region of Nigeria are deemed to be state laws by Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), having been adopted from the Grazing Reserve Law of Northern Region of Nigeria (NN Law of 1965). For examples, CAP 3 Laws of Kwara State, CAP 56 Laws of Bauchi State and CAP 55 Laws of Kastina State. On the case of these laws, it was expressly stated that they are adopted from Northern Nigeria Laws of 1965. There is no provision for grazing-routes as it is being claimed.
“There has never been a federal legislation on Grazing Reserves and/or Grazing Routes in Nigeria and Northern Region Laws are not applicable everywhere in Nigeria. In fact by the present constitutional provisions, such law cannot be within the competence of the National Assembly.
“The Grazing Reserves Laws are only applicable and enforceable in those states created from the former Northern Regions that chose to adopt the same as part of their revised laws like Kwara, Bauchi and Katsina States. It appears that Jigawa State omitted the Grazing Reserves Law as part of its law in the more recent compilation of its laws.
“Further and be that as it may, none of the extant Grazing Reserves Law made mention of grazing routes not to talk of making provisions thereof. It was only in section 37(1)(a) of the law that the law mentioned “trade route” in criminalizing open grazing outside the grazing reserves areas. However, what is “trade route” was not defined in the law and there is no other reference to the term “trade route” in the law.
“The purport of Grazing Reserve Law, contrary to the impression being sought to be created, is to create grazing reserve areas to be created with necessary legal requirements and criminalize grazing outside the grazing areas. Under those laws animals are only allowed to graze in the grazing reserve or “trade route”.
“In fact, Section 37 of grazing law CAP G3 Laws of Kwara State provides that an offence is committed by any person, being the owner of specify animal or the person in taking care of who; “(a) allow such animal to graze anyhow other than grazing reserves or trade route established pursuant to this law; or (b) fails to control such animal and the animal causes damages to any crops. Section 40 of the law also prohibits possessing, carrying or using for any purpose any fire harms or other weapons for other purposes in the grazing areas. There is also provision for the constitution for local government grazing reserves in the law.
“Rather than making reference to laws that do not exist or not applicable, what is required and should be pursued by our government and my great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the way forward to address the issue of farmers and herdsmen crisis is to adopt, promote and finance the modern animal husbandry by way of ranches and modern grazing reserves.”