*Says Grazing reserve law in northern Nigeria criminalises open grazing
The Senator representing Osun Central Senatorial District, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, has once again reacted to the statement credited to President Buhari to the effect that he (Buhari) has instructed the Attorney-General of the Federation to gazette the law on grazing routes.
Recall that on Sunday the Senator faulted President Buhari over the same statement explaining that the gazette that Buhari was referring to was a product of a decree promulgated in the northern Nigeria in the 1960s. He also argued that the Land Use Act, which is recognised by the Nigerian constitution, had rubbished the so-called grazing routes gazette.
Basiru, in a statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer on Wednesday titled “No Law of Grazing Routes in Nigeria: Either North or South….Modern Animal Husbandry Practices is Panacea”, said President Buhari was not properly advised.
“Further to my earlier comment in my personal capacity, as a Senator Representing Osun Central Senatorial District, on the debate over the statement by President Mohammadu Buhari that the President said he has instructed the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to gazette the law on grazing-routes, I reiterate my earlier position that the President, with all respect, has not received well informed and proper legal advice from his Attorney General and the legal team.”
Thus Senator Basiru clarifies that no such law exists whether at the state or federal level. According to him, what is in existence is Grazing Reserve Laws made by some Northern states including Bauchi, Kwara and Katsina
He said, “As a patriot, a Distinguished Senator and someone sworn to uphold the Nigerian Constitution and in view of the apparent interest of Nigerians on the subject matter, it is pertinent to make the following elucidation;
“Neither in the North nor in the South, is there a law creating grazing routes either as state law or federal law. It is rather unfortunate that our President has been misadvised on this matter.
“The Grazing Reserves Laws in some states created from the former Northern Region of Nigeria are deemed to be state laws by Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), having been adopted from the Grazing Reserve Law of Northern Region of Nigeria (NN Law of 1965). For example, CAP 3 Laws of Kwara State, CAP 56 Laws of Bauchi State, and CAP 55 Laws of Kastina State. On the case of these laws, it was expressly stated that they are adopted from Northern Nigeria Laws of 1965. There is no provision for grazing routes as it is being claimed.”
The Senator reiterated that “There has never been federal legislation on Grazing Reserves and/or Grazing Routes in Nigeria and Northern Region Laws are not applicable everywhere in Nigeria. In fact, by the present constitutional provisions, such law cannot be within the competence of the National Assembly.”
The statement reads in part: “The Grazing Reserves Laws are only applicable and enforceable in those states created from the former Northern Regions that chose to adopt same as part of their revised laws like Kwara, Bauchi and Katsina States. It appears that Jigawa State omitted the Grazing Reserves Law as part of its law in the more recent compilation of its laws.
“Further and be that as it may, none of the extant Grazing Reserves Law made mention of grazing routes not to talk of making provisions thereof. It was only in section 37(1)(a) of the law that the law mentioned: “trade route” in criminalizing open grazing outside the grazing reserves areas. However, what is “trade route” was not defined in the law and there is no other reference to the term “trade route” in the law.
“The purport of Grazing Reserve Law, contrary to the impression being sought to be created, is to create grazing reserve areas to be created with necessary legal requirements and criminalize grazing outside the grazing areas. Under those laws animals are only allowed to graze in the grazing reserve or “trade route”.
“In fact, Section 37 of grazing law CAP G3 Laws of Kwara State provides that an offence is committed by any person, being the owner of specific animal or the person in taking care of who; “(a) allow such animal to graze anyhow other than grazing reserves or trade route established pursuant to this law; or (b) fails to control such animal and the animal causes damages to any crops. Section 40 of the law also prohibits possessing, carrying or using for any purpose any fire harms or other weapons for other purposes in the grazing areas. There is also provision for the constitution for local government grazing reserve in the law.”
Basiru stated that rather than making reference to laws that do not exist or not applicable, what is required and should be pursued by “our” government and “our great party”, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the way forward to address the issue of farmers and herdsmen crisis is to adopt, promote and finance the modern animal husbandry by way of ranches and modern grazing reserves.