A pro-democracy and non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for a review ‘with dispatch’ 368 grazing sites across 25 states in Nigeria as an inevitable invitation to civil war.
The Rights group, however, urged the president to perish the illegal and toxic idea unless he nurses an agenda to destabilize Nigeria.
In a media statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf said it is unthinkable why President Buhari is bent on coercing native peoples to surrender their ancestral lands for the purposes of donating such involuntarily by his administration to president Buhari’s kinsmen- Fulani herdsmen.
The Rights group said the discriminatory treatment by the President of his kinsmen since coming to office including his failure to arrest and prosecute suspected armed Fulani herdsmen responsible for some 6,000 deaths since 2015, his decision to give them a lot of concessions in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and rural development and water resources in the execution of projects, are all unconstitutional acts.
“This is the first time in over 60 years of Nigeria’s independence that Nigeria is foisted with a fatalistic administration whose head of executive arm is doing everything outside of the law to arm-twist other ethnicities just so the president’s kinsmen are awarded the ancestral lands for their private commercial business of grazing cattle whereas all over the world those who deal with cows do so using their own landed assets to set up ranches to undertake their business.”
HURIWA is therefore asking the President to desist from taking steps and doing things that will plunge Nigeria into a long drawn civil war just as the Rights group said it was ironic that the ridiculous public statement announcing that the President plans to give grazing sites to Fulani herdsmen coincided with his briefing to the military Chiefs of State in which he said he doesn’t want to quit the stage in 2023 as a failure.
HURIWA said the only way for the President to quit office in 2023 as a Statesman is for him to comply with his Constitutional oath of office and treat all Nigerians equitably and equally and stop pampering his kinsmen.
HURIWA has therefore accused the president of breaching his Constitutional oath of office which prohibits him from using his office to confer unlawful advantage on his people due to pedestrian reasons as provided for in the oath of the President of Nigeria thus: “I, ………….. do solemnly swear/affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will strive to preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions; that I will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will abide by the Code of Conduct contained in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; that I will not directly or indirectly communication or reveal to any person any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as President; and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria. So help me God.”
HURIWA dismissed the directive of President Buhari on the so-called grazing sites as an unmitigated unconstitutional act given that the extant Land Use law governing land administration gives the ownership of landed assets in each state of the Federation to the state government.
HURIWA said: “For the avoidance of doubts and from the abundance of scholarly submissions, Mr President should note that the Land Use Act, enacted in 1978, was meant to standardise land administration systems across the country. It vested all urban land within a state in the state governor and all non-urban land in the local governments in which they are found. (There are currently 36 states in Nigeria and 774 local government areas.) The state governor and local government authorities are empowered by the Act to grant “statutory rights of occupancy”.
HURIWA continues thus: “The Act also provided for the establishment of land use and allocation committees to advise state governors, and land allocation advisory committees to advise local governments. Excluded from the control of state and local governments are all lands designated to be federal – for example, land occupied by federal agencies and departments. In 1978 the Land Use Act – which governs land use and administration in Nigeria, and is included in the Constitution – abolished all existing freehold systems, and provided for a nationwide leasehold system. The leases are typically granted for 99 years, the maximum period stipulated by the Act.”
HURIWA recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch,” 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment.”
The President’s directive followed his approval of the recommendations of a committee chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Among others, the committee had recommended the collection of field data collection on 368 Grazing Reserves across 25 states to assess encroachment and encroachers, stakeholder engagements and sensitization.
The Committee also recommended the production of maps and geo-mapping/tagging of sites, analysis of findings and report preparations as well as design appropriate communication on Grazing Reserves and operations.
HURIWA however dismissed the Committee and its recommendations as unknown to law and of no effect just as HURIWA asked the governors not to surrender their lawful authority regarding land administration to be misapplied to satisfy the discriminatory treatment in favour of Fulani herdsmen.