RECENTLY, governors of the 17 states in the Southern part of Nigeria rose from a meeting in Asaba with far- reaching resolutions on the state of the nation. Among these resolutions was the decision by the governors to ban open-grazing of cattle in Southern Nigeria.
THIS decision did not go down well with Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami who swiftly condemned the decision.
SPEAKING last Wednesday on Channels Television on the Programme “Politics Today”, Malami described the decision of the southern governors to ban open-grazing as unconstitutional. He stated that “it is a dangerous provision for any governor to think he can bring any compromise on the freedom and liberty of individuals to move around.”
HE went ahead to compare the ban on open-grazing to a supposed situation where northern governors would come together to say that they prohibit spare parts trading in the north.
THE VOICE notes with concern this thrust of arguments from the Minister in his strange bid to condemn the open-grazing ban. How, for instance can one compare the open- grazing of cattle across the nation’s landscape (including grazing on people’s farms) to the sale of spare parts in the north? What damage does sale of spare parts in the north cause to northerners?
AND even at the level of the ban being against the constitution’s permission for people to move freely in the country, the Minister also got it wrong, as the constitution could not have intended that the definition of people should include animals.
THE VOICE, therefore calls on the Minister of Justice to have a rethink on his position and appropriately advise the Federal Government on the matter.
THIS is especially necessary given last Thursday’s judgment by a Federal High Court in Abuja affirming the right of Nigerian States to implement anti -grazing laws in their domains.
WHAT this ruling means is that banning of open-grazing and enforcement of law against the practice is in order and not against the constitution as alleged by the minister.