Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has opposed the southern governors’ decision to ban open grazing in their states.
Malami said such ‘unconstitutional’ resolution is dangerous for the country.
“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 during an interview on Channels Television‘s Politics Today programme on Wednesday.
“It is about constitutionality within the context of the freedoms expressed in our constitution. Can you deny the rights of a Nigerian?
“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.”
Seventeen governors from southern Nigeria met last week resolved to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region over cases of kidnappings and killings that have been traced to criminal elements amongst herders.
Chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, explained that the decision is not new as most of the governors have placed a ban on open grazing in their states before the meeting.
“We felt that – open grazing must stop. It is causing a lot of problems particularly between the herders and the farmers. Whether we like it or not, times have changed and this must change. We must adopt a modern system of animal husbandry,” Akeredolu said.
“In this day and age, they cannot continue taking cows by foot from Kano to Port Harcourt.”
The governor said the Federal government needs to throw its weight behind state governments that want to set up ranches, noting that this will benefit the herders who are exposed to dangers as they roam with their cattle.x
But Malami disagrees with the governors, saying their decision is against the constitutional right of freedom of expression for other Nigerians who are herders.
Malami asked, “Does it hold water? Does it hold water for a northern governor to come and state expressly that he now prohibits spare parts trading in the north?”
He advised the governors to first amend the constitution to prohibit open grazing before going ahead with their decision.
“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 is established by the Constitution. If by an inch you want to have any compromise over it, the better approach is to 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.”