Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Ondo state governor and Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, has said the decision made by governors in the region to ban open grazing will stand.
Akeredolu was reacting to a statement made by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who described the move as unconstitutional.
He said the move to ban open grazing of cattle in the southern region of Nigeria will be pursued with vigour.
Malami, Wednesday, on Channels TV programme criticised the Southern Governors’ Forum’s resolution to place a ban on open grazing which is largely practised by nomadic Fulani.
The governors from Southern Nigeria made the call last Tuesday as an important step to curb insecurity in their respective states.
Malami, however, disagreed with the decision of the governors.
“It is about constitutionality within the context of the freedoms expressed in our constitution. Can you deny the rights of a Nigerian?” he queried.
“For example: it is as good as saying, perhaps, maybe, the northern governors coming together to say they prohibit spare parts trading in the North.
“If you are talking of constitutionally guaranteed rights, the better approach to it is to perhaps go back to ensure the constitution is amended.”
“Freedom and liberty of movement among others established by the constitution, if by an inch you want to have any compromise over it, the better approach is go back to the national assembly to say open grazing should be prohibited and see whether you can have the desired support for the constitutional amendment.
“It is a dangerous provision for any governor in Nigeria to think he can bring any compromise on the freedom and liberty of individuals to move around,” Malami said.
Akeredolu, in a statement on Thursday titled ‘Our Decision Is Irreversible And Will Be Enforced’, said Malami’s statement “annoyingly betrays a terrible mindset.”
The statement said, “I have just read the press statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Shehu Malami SAN on the resolution of the Southern Governors Forum to ban open grazing in their respective States.
“The AGF is quoted to have said that this reasoned decision, among others, is akin to banning all spare parts dealers in the Northern parts of the country and is unconstitutional.
“It is most unfortunate that the AGF is unable to distill issues as expected of a Senior Advocate. Nothing can be more disconcerting. This outburst should, ordinarily, not elicit response from reasonable people who know the distinction between a legitimate business that is not in anyway injurious and a certain predilection for anarchy. Clinging to an anachronistic model of animal husbandry, which is evidently injurious to harmonious relationship between the herders and the farmers as well as the local populace, is wicked and arrogant.
“Comparing this anachronism, which has led to loss of lives, farmlands and property, and engendered untold hardship on the host communities, with buying and selling of auto parts is not only strange. It, annoyingly, betrays a terrible mindset.
“Mr Malami is advised to approach the court to challenge the legality of the Laws of the respective States baning open grazing and decision of the Southern Governor Forum taken in the interest of their people. We shall be most willing to meet him in Court.
“The decision to ban open grazing stays. It will be enforced with vigour.”