17 southern governors meet today over Buhari’s land recovery order for herdsmen

By AdvocateNews on 05/07/2021

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Fayemi, Wike, Umahi and Okowa and Makinde during the Southern governors meeting on insecurity on Tue
Fayemi, Wike, Umahi and Okowa and Makinde during the Southern governors meeting on insecurity on Tue

President Muhammadu Buhari’s order on the recovery of  grazing routes for herders  will top the agenda of today’s meeting of 17 southern governors.

It was gathered that the meeting, which would hold eight weeks  after the governors met in Asaba, the Delta State capital, would further assess  decisions taken in Asaba on the open grazing ban, restructuring, fiscal federalism and the call for state police.

The governors would be hosted by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the meeting which would start by 10am today (Monday).

Aside from the host governor, others expected at the meeting are Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom) Diri Duoye (Bayelsa), Willie Obiano (Anambra), Ben Ayade (Cross Rivers), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Olukayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Hope Uzodimma (Imo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Oluwaseyi Makinde (Oyo), and Nyesom Wike (Rivers).

Recall that the governors in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting in Asaba, banned open grazing as part of moves to address killings and kidnapping by herdsmen.

But a few days after the meeting,  the Presidency faulted the ban on open grazing. The Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, had in a statement, stated,  “It is equally true that their (governors’) announcement is of questionable legality, given the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of our 36 states (and FCT)-regardless of the state of their birth or residence.”

Also, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, slammed the southern governors for banning open grazing.

According to the AGF, open grazing ban is the same thing as Northern governors banning spare parts trading in their own region considering the fact that southerners comprise a majority of spare parts traders in the North.

The President during a recorded television interview in June also backed Malami’s position, adding that he had directed that grazing routes be recovered.

When asked if he agreed with the AGF’s position, Buhari had  responded, “You want me to contradict my attorney-general?”

Explaining further, he said, “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) are moving up country, north to south or east to west, they had to go through there.

“If you allow your cattle to stray into any farm, you are arrested. The farmer is invited to submit his claims. The khadi or the judge will say pay this amount and if you can’t the cattle is sold. And if there is any benefit, you are given and people were behaving themselves and in the grazing areas, they built dams, put windmills in some places there were even veterinary departments so that the herders are limited. Their route is known, their grazing area is known.

“But I am telling you, this rushing to the centre (sic) so I asked for the gazette to make sure that those who encroached on these cattle routes and grazing areas will be dispossessed in law and try to bring some order back into the cattle grazing.”

Speaking on Sunday, a top source close to one of the governors said the southern governors were disturbed about Buhari’s order on grazing routes, adding that they suspected a hidden agenda.

The source also stated,  “The governors will meet physically tomorrow (Monday) in Alausa, Lagos. All the 17 governors in Southern Nigeria will be present at the meeting. They will speak on some of the issues they raised in Asaba.”

Asked of the issues that would top agenda at the meeting, another source close to one the governors in the South-West, South-South and South-East said the governors would deliberate on the pronouncement of the President.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter said, “They would discuss the issue of security and open grazing ban. They are going to focus on topical political issues. The governors will be deliberating on the recent order by the President that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, recover some lands for herdsmen to graze in the country. They believe it is an agenda to Fulanise the country.”

Also, one of the information managers to one of the governors in the region, said, “The meeting will address killings in spite of the ban on  open grazing. Aside from open grazing, restructuring, autonomy for judiciary will also be discussed.

“The attorney general of the federation is not an attorney general of the Federal Government. He is an attorney general of the federation behaving like the attorney general of the Federal Government. So, any case involving anybody with the Federal Government is a lost case because you have an attorney general of the federation behaving like the attorney general of the Federal Government.

“When the southern governors banned open grazing, the AGF declared the act as illegal. They didn’t react when he said that. That is how mature people behave. But tomorrow, the governors will take a position on the Federal Government’s reaction,” the source said. (Punch)

Posted 05/07/2021 07:22:44 AM

 

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