Now lets take a look at the legal contradictions, security implications, unanswered questions and possibly the best solutions, if adhered to, will end the Fulani menace in Biafraland and other parts of the country.
Section 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that “every citizen is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof and no citizen of the country shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereof or exist there from.”
It is strange that this straight forward provision in the 1999 Constitution was disingenuously presented to include freedom for cattle and their marauding herders, many of who are not Nigerians. This section of the constitution does not cover lions, dogs, pigs, crocodiles, snakes, jackals which many rear for meat and house pets. The rearing and movements of these animals, including cattle, goat, and sheep has to be in such a manner as not to constitute any danger, inconveniences or discomfort to life and properties of other citizens.
The Governors of the states of the Federation are constitutionally vested with power to hold custody of all lands under their jurisdiction following the Land Use Act. According to the Nigerian constitution, It is only the Governors and the Minister of FCT that has powers to allocate lands to any individual, groups or organizations and issue them Certificate of Occupancy(C of O). This Bill seeking to establish a National Grazing Routes and Reserves Commission in all parts of the Federation, and for other Incidental Matters thereof, is designed to usurp this power and amend the constitution through the backdoor, just to benefit one particular ethnic group.
Read also:WHY WE MUST REJECT THE CREATION OF GRAZING RESERVE FOR HAUSA-FULANI IN BIAFRA LAND (PART 1)
It amounts to an exercise in futility and waste of valuable resources considering this Bill, and so therefore, we urge the Federal legislators to wash off their hands from this brazen illegality.
Giving notice to the state governor of the intention to acquire a given piece of land, as the Bill proposes does not equate to or mean getting accent of the Governor concerned. It is a crude insult and assault on the Constitutional powers of the Governors and the State Legislatures.
It is a sheer illegality and an invitation for anarchy to forcefully confiscate and expel people from their ancestral homes, without their due negotiated consent and adequate provisions for a place of relocation and compensation if they should accept.
The ‘clause’ in the Bill which reads; “No Court of law shall carryout execution of its judgment or attachment of court process issued against the Commission in any action or suit without obtaining the prior consent of the Attorney General of the Federation,” is a rude insult on the constitutional powers of the Judiciary and runs counter to the principle of Separation of Powers. This renders the Bill a still born.
Read also:THE GRAZING RESERVE BILL - A PATHWAY TO OFFICIALLY ISLAMISE NIGERIA
Now lets talk about the security implications of the Bill. The cattle herdsmen in Nigeria have been classified as the most dangerous Terrorist Organization in the world today inflicting more death and destruction than ISIS in the Middle East. It is well acknowledged by both the security forces and the Senate that it is now difficult to separate the Fulani herdsmen from the Boko Haram terrorist group.
The Fulani herdsmen terrorist group already have bases in the forests in Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Delta, Anambra and Edo states, from where they surges out to launch an attack, cause destruction of life and properties, farmlands, commit armed robbery on our highways, rape our wives and daughters, kidnap for ransom on a continuous basis without any challenge from the national security forces and most of the times, with active overt and covert support of the Police, DSS, Army and the Nigerian media houses. They have subdued and occupy large portion of Benue and Kogi states.
From all indications, this Bill can be rightly construed as the final subtle push to create an exclusive territory in Biafraland and other Southern states for International Terrorism, as the Bill seeks to bar every other inhabitants of the country, including the landlords, the State government officials who monitor and regulate development of lands, Nigerian Police, the Military and other security and paramilitary agents from entering this Grazing Reserves and Routes. Only the Fulani herdsmen and cattle owners, and the terrorist forces will be permitted to enter and use the lands if the Bill in any of its formulations is passed into law. This is a clear indication that this Bill has a manifest hidden political and religious agenda and has nothing to do with agro-economic development of the country.
Passing this Bill in any of its formulations, will amount to destroying the already shattered fabric of the country's existence.
Read also:ENUGU MASSACRE: BIAFRA WRITERS JOINS SOUTHEAST-CAN/UMUADA UZO-UWANI PROTEST TO ENUGU STATE GOVERNMENT HOUSE.
Lets consider some unanswered questions in the Bill.
First of all, what informed the need for such Bill is not mentioned anywhere in the Bill. Is it the incessant Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes? What is the cause of all such clashes? Is it not because the Fulani cattle herders grazed their cattle on the farmer's ‘yet-to-be-harvested crops?’ Who is therefore the antagonist? Should the cattle-rich aggressor/terrorist Fulanis now be protected, pampered and compensated by confiscating the ancestral lands of the defenseless peasant farmers? For whose use are the grazing reserves and livestock routes to be acquired? The Bill did not specify this.
It would simply create grazing reserves and stock routes for nomadic cattle rearers and cattle owners with their terrorist army behind the cattle, who we know are of one ethnic group— Fulani.
The clause ‘cattle rearers’ in the Bill can be replaced with the word ‘Fulani herdsmen,’ and it will be seen that it is purely meant to serve the interest of one ethic group out of over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The fundamental rights, ancestral rights, customary rights, rights to pursue a preferred means of livelihood of farmers whose lands will be forcefully acquired are not mentioned anywhere in the Bill. Don't other citizens, especially agriculturalists, have equal rights and entitlements from the Federal government as cattle rearers?
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The Bill has been designed to create a refugee crises of internally displaced persons(IDPs) by legislation. This is the most absurd and vexatious to put it mildly. How come righ-thinking, intelligent Nigerian legislators do this? Unless the Honourable members of the NASS are not what we all assume they are.
As they sit there in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly, the Fulani insurgents armed with the most sophisticated weapons— AK47 and other dangerous weapons, have descended on the innocent people of Ukpabi/Nimbo; an agrarian community in Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu state, killing scores of them in cold blood with brutal force and still wrecking havoc in many villages and communities as I write. The other day, about 67 natives of Awgu LGA of same Enugu state were arrested and detained at Umuahia, for committing no crime but daring to resist the invasion of their ancestral home by the armed Fulani insurgents.
The Way Forward...
Present developments in Nigeria, the enormous security challenges in the states of Biafraland, as well as the helplessness of the State governors and their legislators, once more, underscore the need for state police, active and high motivated vigilante groups in our communities. The rate at which these crimes are been committed by the herdsmen as well as the failure of the law enforcement agencies to protect the innocent people, arrest the armed perpetrators and question the unique freedom to roam throughout the country carrying sophisticated arms, which the Fulani herdsmen enjoys.
Read also:MUHAMMADU BUHARI IS THE CHIEF TERRORIST IN CHARGE OF MURDEROUS FULANI HERDSMEN IN NIGERIA
We are fully aware that these cattle are being owned and controlled by influential cattle owners who protect the cattle herdsmen and thereby encourage them to intimidate and kill farmers of their host communities. We see them as the principal actors in the entire saga, the herdsmen being only willing tools deployed to perpetrate the infamous acts, while the cattle owners protect them using the military and Nigerian Police Force.
We also consider these as indicative of an agenda to conquer the entire territory of Biafraland, using the Fulani herdsmen as proxy.
The fact that all these are happening within the Southern zones of Nigeria including the Middle Belt zones of Benue, Plateau, Kogi and Taraba states, all of which are mainly farming zones, is also a clear pointer to the existence of an expansionist agenda.
These steps should therefore be considered.
★The Bill seeking to establish whether they call it:
A National Grazing Route and Reserve Commission for whatever purpose, or An Act to Establish Grazing Reserves in each of the States of the Federation for whatever purpose, or An Act to Establish the National Grazing Routes and Reserves Commission, and so on, should be outrightly rejected by the Federal legislators.
Read also:BIAFRA WRITERS VISIT TO NATIONAL ORTHOPAEDIC HOSPITAL ENUGU: INTERVIEW VICTIMS OF FULANI HERDSMEN INVASION AT UZO-UWANI ENUGU.
★Nigerian Livestock Farmers should be encouraged to adopt modern methods of livestock production which avoids roaming of cattle or any other livestock. This is what brings them into collision course with the host communities of those whose ancestral lands and crops are destroyed by the cattle herders.
★Since evidence of collaboration between armed Fulani insurgents and Boko Haram have been established, the Southern zones should be protected by limiting or restricting cattle rearing to the parts of Northeast and North-Central where cattle grazing is a major occupation. If for any reason there has to be ‘ranches’ for animal husbandry in Biafraland or any other part of the country, it should be the responsibility of the State or Local governments.
★Neither the Federal government nor any of her agencies has a constitutional right to acquire lands in any state without the authority of the State Executive Governors and the State Legislators.
★Instead of keeping mute or feigning as though nothing has happened or exuding lackadaisical attitude, President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly should immediately institute a Commission of Inquiry to establish the identity and the sponsors of the rampaging Fulani herdsmen, how they acquire the sophisticated AK47 and other lethal weapons they wield with which they kill, maim, kidnap and rape innocent women and girls, the link between them and the security forces.
★The Governors of Biafran states comprising the present Southeast and South-South, and indeed other zones should muster and show enough courage, exercising their constitutional powers and authority as the Chief Security Officers of their respective states and not to be dependent or lily-livered when issues of human lives are at stake in their states.
★The Governors and state legislators should urgently take all legal steps to protect their ancestral lands from these Fulani militia cabals. They should not abdicate their responsibility and surrender their constitutional powers within the jurisdiction of their respective territories.
They should also order for investigation on how the Fulani herdsmen acquire their AK47 and other sophisticated arms, and prohibit them from carrying such dangerous weapons.
★Strict laws should be enacted, prohibiting the free-flow or unrestricted grazing or roaming of cattle and other livestock in the states.
★Villages/communities should be financed and encouraged to form active and highly efficient vigilantes for the protection of their farmers, wives and daughters who are ruthlessly defiled and brutally murdered in their ancestral homes by armed Fulani herdsmen.
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★Biafrans on their part are also advised to see the present harrowing times as a challenge for them to return to the production of their domestic animals such as native cows, goats, sheep, piggery, fowls, etc. In this way, the need for the less proteinous beef will be minimized. It is against our customary laws to rear ungulates or livestock without tethers or restriction in enclosures for the simple philosophical reason that “one form of wealth should never be allowed to destroy another,” except for planned and collective reasons. Consequently, the Fulani cattle owners and herdsmen enjoy a destructive license in Biafraland which we cannot, by customary law, allow ourselves. I hereby call on all Town Unions and traditional authorities in Biafraland to enforce Customary laws within our territory(just like Sharia law is enforced in the North), against free-roaming ungulates with respect to the Fulani as to ourselves and others.
★With the view that there exist more natural environment for breeding if cattle in Northern Nigeria, coupled with its abundance of Savanna grass for grazing, hence, grazing reserves and routes, by whatever name, should be restricted to the Savanna belt of the country.
Finally, there is need for clarification on the decision by the Federal government to import ‘special grasses’ from Brazil to feed the cattle in Nigeria.
Since cattle rearing is a private businesses of individuals, is the government facilitating the importation of such grasses by the concerned businessmen or is it deploying state or federal resources to finance private businesses?
Rather than waste scarce national resources on importing grasses for private businesses, the government should, as a matter of urgency, deploy same resources to start a grass cultivation programme in the vast areas of land in Northern Nigeria which will offer employment to teeming unemployed youths and save Nigeria's scarce foreign reserves from further depletion.
Written By Chukwuemeka Chimerue
Published By Nwosu C.S
For Biafra Writers