Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, has been heavily criticised over his comment on the Southern Governors ban on open grazing of cattle.
The Southern Governors Forum, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Senator Abaribe, Femi Falana and other have condemned his statement.
The governors in the South had last week following a meeting in Asaba, the capital of Delta State, banned open grazing in the region.
Reacting however to the ban on Channels TV, Malami said it was unconstitutional. He said; “It is as good as saying, perhaps, maybe, the northern governors coming together to say they prohibit spare parts trading in the north.
“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?”
Reacting to Malami’s unintelligent statement, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State who is the leader of the Southern Governors Forum, noted that the ban is irreversible.
He described Malami’s statement as unfortunate and unexpected from a senior advocate.
“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 any way 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. The decision to ban open grazing stays and it will be enforced with vigour.”
Also, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, faulted the AGF. He noted that spare parts traders obeyed the laws of the land.
“The spare parts traders before starting their business, rented shops or as the case maybe, bought land and built shops. They obey the laws of the land.
“Herdsmen move their cattle into people’s farm and destroy their farm produce. When the owners talk, the herders will kill, destroy, rape their women and even kidnap them.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo says Malami’s statement thoughtless, prejudicial
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, condemned Malami for comparing open grazing to spare parts sale in the North,
Ohanaeze spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, described the AGF’s statement as “thoughtless, insidious and prejudicial,” adding that the statment was “malevolent, ominous and incendiary.”
“Malami had also condemned the Amotekun security outfit by the South-West and so on. Malami knows that there has never been a report of a clash between the Southern motor spare parts sellers and the indigenous northerners.
“The motor spare parts sellers render their services to the populace from shops or sheds and are in no way comparable to the Fulani herders who invade farmlands, destroy crops, debauch women, maim, abduct and kill.”
Also, Afenifere, the apex Yoruba socio-political organisation, condemned Malami, saying that his comment shows his support for killer herdsmen.
“The sectarian and emotional vituperations of Abubakar Malami on the ban of open grazing of cattle by the governors of Southern Nigeria did not come to discerning Nigerians as a surprise.
“It only pitiably exposed him as being most unfit for the office of the attorney-general having always allowed his sectarian disposition to becloud his eminent qualifications.
“Contrary to his latest vituperations, the ban on open grazing and movement of animals by foot is not a denial of freedom and liberty of movement and does not require the slightest touch of the constitution for the governor to pronounce. For the attention of Malami, most of the states already have laws banning open grazing and the pronouncement of the governors was merely to give effect to an existing law.”
Reacting also, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media, Senator Basiru, called for the removal of AGF Malami from office.
He noted that it was less then dignifying to equate open grazing with southerners selling spare parts in the north.
“It was not dignifying of the status of the nation’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice to make such remarks.”
He said equating the activities of archaic nomadic herdsmen destroying peoples means of livelihood with legitimate businesses owned by southerners in the north is unthinkable.
The senator said that the AGF was capable of derailing the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria and should therefore be immediately removed from office.
“Anyone who cannot rise above primordial sentiments and pursuit of parochial ethnic agenda need not occupy position of trust especially at this time of sectional agitations.”
He challenged the AGF to cite sections of the Constitution which allowed the herders to trespass on other people’s land and destroy their crops, saying that the AGF’s statement was less than patriotic.
Senator Abaribe says Malami’s statement dangerous, raising tension
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Minority Leader of the Senate, in his reaction accuse the AGF of threatening the nation’s unity.
“While the local ‘bureau de change’ business mostly done by the Fulani is operating in all parts of Nigeria, why have they (Fulani bureau de change operators) not elicited any resentment of other Nigerians?
“It is simply because they live and do their business peacefully without any problem. It is the murderous activities of Fulani herders that have given rise to the current demand for laws that will bring about peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians.
“What’s the correlation between spare parts sellers in a rented shop or government properly designated area and marauding Fulani herders destroying farms, killing and raping thus trampling on people’s private properties and means of livelihood?
“Such a divisive statement from a top Federal Government official, in fact, the chief legal adviser to the Federal Government at that, exposes a very dangerous mindset. This disposition has no doubt raised the tension in Nigeria to a frightening level.”
Falana describes Malami’s statment as “nonsensical”
Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), in his reaction said it was funny that Malami, who is the chief law officer of the nation, was ignorant of the fact that northern governors had taken a decision to ban open grazing since January.
“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.”
He noted that spare parts traders paid rents and had been known to be peaceful in their conduct. Consequently, comparing them to open grazing was nonsensical.
“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.”
“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.
“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,” he added.
Ogbodo ThankGod is currently the Managing Director/CEO/Group Chief Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He was the Chief Editor at NaijaBuzz.News before his new top leadership role. Ogbodo has years of experience in the Nigeria Media Industry and has co-founded some media companies. He is the founder of Ogbodo Solution Nigeria and 1Push.Ng. He loves playing football and is a strong supporter of Lionel Messi who he describes as the greatest footballer of all time.