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SANs fault Presidency attack on grazing ban, slams Buhari



Prominent lawyers on Tuesday faulted the position of the Presidency that the Southern Governors Forum’s ban on open grazing was of questionable legality..

Senior advocates, including Professor Itse Sagay, Mr Tayo Oyetibo, Damian Dodo and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, criticised the Presidency for its wrong interpretation of the right of free movement.

The lawyers stated this as the Northern Elders’ Forum took a swipe at the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). It blamed the situation in the country on his “multiple failures.”

Recall that Southern governors, at their recent meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, banned open grazing of cattle to stem the rising insecurity in the region.

But the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, in an interview with Channels Television on Thursday said the governors’ action was unconstitutional.

The Presidency, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Monday described the ban and other resolutions of the governors as “acts of politicking.”

It also stated that the ban was 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 states of their birth or residence.”

Herders’ right of movement doesn’t extend to right of cattle destroying people’s farms – Oyetibo

But a constitutional lawyer, Oyetibo (SAN), noted that it was correct to say that every Nigerian had a right to freedom of movement in any part of Nigeria.

He, however, explained that that right did not extend to cattle. He stated, “It does not include the right of cattle to destroy the farms of other people.

“If a governor passes as a law that prohibits open grazing, it is within the powers of the state government to do that. Such a ban does not in any way prevent other Nigerians or the Nigerians involved from moving freely within that state.”

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Sagay, said the ban ought to have the backing of each state House of Assembly.

He, however stated, “The governors are within their rights to ban open grazing. The Land Use Act gives them that power, so I think it is a straightforward matter.

“Millions of Nigerians in the South have had their families kidnapped, countless women have been raped and many farms destroyed. The statement by the Presidency does not show any concern for the Nigerians who have suffered from series of attacks by some of the herders. It is not a matter to be easily dismissed and the statement by the Presidency is regrettable.”

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