• Monday, June 24, 2024
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Nigerians react as northern senators, Miyetti Allah reject anti open-grazing bill

‘Why Nigerian communities growing in hatred against Fulani herdsmen’

Many Nigerians on social media have reacted to the rejection of a bill that proposes ranching as the sole method for cattle breeding in Nigeria by some northern senators and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).

The National Animal Husbandry and Ranches Commission establishment Bill passed the second reading in the Senate following a heated debate on Wednesday.

The bill proposes the creation of ranches for herders within their home states, which would replace the traditional method of open grazing.

Should the bill become law, a commission would manage, preserve, and oversee ranches across the country.

Nigeria has faced ongoing conflicts between herders and farmers, resulting in loss of life and property.

Senator Titus Tartenger Zam (APC, Benue), who introduced the bill, argued that establishing ranches in the home states of pastoralists would prevent conflicts.

He claimed that prohibiting open grazing by law would address the recurring disputes between farmers and herders.

Zam also mentioned that the lack of a regulatory framework or legislation for pastoralism and livestock movement has led to a disorderly struggle between settled farmers and wandering herders in Nigeria.

Some senators from the northern region kicked against the bill, insisting that herdsmen have the freedom to reside anywhere in Nigeria, as stated by Section 42 of the 1999 constitution.

Barau Jibrin, the deputy senate president, said it is unconstitutional to confine herders, suggesting that the bill should be revised to align with the constitution.

“There is a snag in this bill, there is a problem because you cannot stop any Nigerian from living in any area that he so wishes. Now, to tell them to move to their state of origin, where is their state of Origin?

“Mr President, I will tell you some of these Fulanis; if you ask them where is their states of origin, they have even forgotten; they look at themselves as Nigerians. We should address the issue to reflect wherever someone is, it’s his place, and he can do his business there,” he said.

Similarly, Adamu Aliero (PDP Kebbi), said the proposed law violated the fundamental rights of herders.

“This bill proposes that the pastoralists should be confined to their states of origin. This is against the constitution because they are Nigerians and should be allowed to move freely in Nigeria,” he said.

Bill is driven by emotion – Miyetti Allah

MACBAN has also rejected the proposal, saying that it was driven by emotion rather than practicality. The herders association asked the Senate to reject the bill.

“If herders are required to return to their states of origin, then all individuals conducting business outside their home states should be asked to do the same. This bill is nonsensical and too emotional.

“The Nigerian Constitution guarantees free movement and the right to live anywhere. Violations should be addressed through existing laws, not by introducing unnecessary legislation.

“The National Assembly should prioritize more serious issues instead of this bill,” Adamu Toro, the director of strategic planning of the MACBAN, said in an interview with Daily Trust.

Nigerians react

However, many Nigerians have reacted to the development, countering the northern senators and Miyetti Allah.

Inibehe Effiong, a legal practitioner, countered the statement made by the deputy senate president, saying that freedom of movement only applies to human beings and not to animals.

“Are cows also Nigerians?

“The fact that some people ferociously support open grazing in 2024 says a lot about their mindset. Freedom of movement only applies to human beings, not to animals. Cattle is not a means of transportation, so it does not even aid the movement of citizens.

“Restricting the movement of cattle is legal and consistent with the Constitution. It is necessary for public peace, order and is in the public interest given the number human lives that have been lost over the years due to the primitive open grazing practice,” the lawyer said on his X account.

“They are free to buy land anywhere and keep their cows. To support open grazing is not only DICTATORIAL but CRIMINAL. The property isn’t yours. Keep off people’s lands,” Ike Chike, another X user said.

“To Miyeti Allah and Northern senators,
Open grazing is also a major issue in your home states. The problem cannot be effectively addressed by expanding southwards or by using federal law to acquire land for ranches in southern states. Build ranches in your home states,” Okechukwu Okeke said.

“Someone has to help the country put it clearly to them, it could be why they are arguing; the bill isn’t to restrict herders from moving or living anywhere, rather it’s to restrict herders from moving their herds everywhere instead of a maintaining a ranch. This is ridiculous!,” another X user said.

Dozie Ohaeri said, “This thing isn’t rocket science. A herder can ranch his cows in his village in the North, board a train/plane/bus & travel to Lagos, Enugu, Benin, Kano to seal beef/milk./hide supply deals & come back home to his ranch. He doesn’t need to travel with his cows. Let’s stay guided.”