Buhari questions 'legality' of open grazing ban in Southern Nigeria
Buhari says the ban violates the constitutional rights of Nigerians to freedom.
Conflict between nomadic herders, usually from the north, and local farmers, both in the north and south, caused by open grazing has led to the death of hundreds of people and displacement of thousands from their local communities.
The governors two weeks ago resolved to ban open grazing of cattle across the region due to security and safety concerns.
They noted with concern the incursion of armed herders and criminal bandits into the south, escalating insecurity that has hampered citizens from living their normal lives.
Buhari's spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Monday, May 24, 2021 said the announcement is of questionable legality, as it purportedly violates the constitutional rights of Nigerians to freedom.
The Presidency's position is in tandem with that of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who said the governors would first have to change the constitution.
Shehu said the governors' decision offered no solution to the agelong crisis that has assumed ethnic dimensions over the years and has fueled more talks of secession.
He said, "The citizens of the southern states – indeed citizens of all states of Nigeria - have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: 'not in my state'."
The aide noted that no one is more worried about the crisis than the president whom he said has expressed a strong resolve to address it in a sustained and lasting manner, and provide a permanent solution.
He said Buhari, 78, has approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the states that are willing to participate.
The federal funding for the rehabilitation project is being partly unlocked, with work for full actualisation expected to commence in June.
The governors had recommended in their May 11 announcement that the Federal Government should support states willing to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
The ban on open grazing effectively confines herders to ranches which the governors expect to be funded by the private businesses and not from the public treasury as demanded by pressure groups.
Contrary to insinuations that the ban was motivated by ethnicity, Taraba and Benue, both northern states, signed anti-open grazing laws years ago.
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