Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has lambasted the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for saying the decision of southern governors to ban open grazing is like northern governors agreeing to ban sale of spare parts which is a market dominated by southerners.
Falana said it was funny that Malami, who is the chief law officer, was ignorant of the fact that northern governors had taken a decision to ban open grazing since January.
He said, “On April 27, 2018, the members of the National Economic Council resolved to ban open grazing and adopt the Livestock Transformation Plan of the Federal Government. The National Economic Council is constituted by the Vice President, the 36 State Governors, the Minister of Finance and the Central Bank Governor.
“On February 9, 2021, the Northern Governors Forum banned open grazing in all states in northern Nigeria. On February 11, 2021, the Nigeria Governors Forum banned open grazing in all the 36 states of the Federation.”
The senior advocate said comparing spare parts trading with open grazing was nonsensical.
Falana argued that spare parts traders pay rents and had been known to be peaceful in their conduct.
“The AGF equally said that banning open grazing is like banning the sale of spare parts. The comparison is not applicable as the sellers of motor parts who operate in shops and markets in all states have not been accused of engaging in the killing of fellow citizens and destruction of their properties.
“Besides, those who sell spare parts outside their states of origin either acquire properties or pay rent for their lawful business,” the activist stated.
The senior advocate further said contrary to Malami’s claim, only humans were guaranteed freedom of movement by the constitution and not animals.
“With respect, the ban on open grazing has not affected the rights of herders to move freely and acquire land in any state for the establishment of ranches in line with the provisions of sections 41 and 43 of the constitution.
“Since the constitution does not cover the right of animals to move freely and destroy farmlands it is grossly misleading to give the impression that the ban on open grazing has abrogated the right of herders to carry out their business,” he argued.
Falana advised Malami to note that as the AGF and minister of justice, he ought to watch his utterances in order not to divide the country.
“Malami should be reminded that he is the AGF and Minister of Justice of Nigeria. So, in making statements he should always regard the sensibilities of every part of the country and respect all legitimate interests of the entire people of the country. Mr. Malami should please stand up for social justice and unity of Nigeria in the interest of all as required of him in accordance with his oath of office under the 1999 Constitution,” Falana said.