…Say Likening it to Sale of Spare Parts Exposes a Parochial Mindset In what has become a battle of the silk, Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Dr Mike Ezekhome, SAN have excoriated the position of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN over
…Say Likening it to Sale of Spare Parts Exposes a Parochial Mindset
In what has become a battle of the silk, Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Dr Mike Ezekhome, SAN have excoriated the position of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN over the ban on open grazing of cattle recently imposed by the Southern Governors across the southern states. Malami had likened the ban on open grazing to prohibiting spare parts trading in the north.
Speaking on Channels Television on Wednesday, Malami also faulted the decision of the southern Governors, saying it is at variance with the provisions of the constitution, arguing that it “does not hold water” in the context of human rights as enshrined in the constitution.
“It is about constitutionality within the context of the freedoms expressed in our constitution. Can you deny the rights of a Nigerian?” he queried.
“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.
“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?”
Malami asked the Southern Governors to facilitate the amendment of the 1999 constitution (as amended) to prohibit open grazing.
“If you are talking of constitutionally guaranteed rights, the better approach to it is to perhaps go back to ensure the constitution is amended,” he said.
“Freedom and liberty of movement among others established by the constitution, if by an inch you want to have any compromise over it, the better approach is 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.
“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.”
But Akeredolu who insists that the ban on open grazing will be enforced, says, “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 anyway 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.”.
He says, “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.
“I have just read the press statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Shehu Malami SAN on the resolution of the Southern Governors Forum to ban open grazing in their respective States. The AGF is quoted to have said that this reasoned decision, among others, is akin to banning all spare parts dealers in the Northern parts of the country and is unconstitutional.
“Mr Malami is advised to approach the court to challenge the legality of the Laws of the respective States baning open grazing and decision of the Southern Governor Forum taken in the interest of their people. We shall be most willing to meet him in Court.
“The decision to ban open grazing stays. It will be enforced with vigour,” the Ondo State Governor who read the resolution of the Southern governors Forum asserts..
Ezekhome Supports Akeredolu
.Akeredolu’s position is shared by Dr Ezekhome who contends that freedom of movement enshrined in the constitution is for human beings and not for cattle and sheep.
He argues that, “The Northern elites, including the Hon Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, miss the point sorely when they compare Igbo peaceful spare-parts dealers who go about their normal spare parts business legitimately, (building or renting their shops), with savage, maniacal AK-47-wielding herdsmen.
“Igbo traders do not kill or attack Northerners with their stock of motor-tyres, rims, spanners or chasis. They do not pour petrol from fuel tanks that they sell, on Fulani herdsmen. They do not use car bumpers or wind shields to smash the heads of herdsmen.
“How does open and street grazing of cows by fully armed foot-patrolling youth which is now clearly anachronistic, diluvian, primitive and antiquated, be likened to legitimate spare parts business being carried out in shops or designated areas, with the Igbo traders paying tenement rate, taxes, water electricity and light bills?
“Have you ever heard of any herder paying tax? How do you equate spare parts dealers with mindless violence unleashed on poor helpless and hapless farmers in their own farms, and destruction of their crops with reckless abandon by these rampaging nomadic pastoralists who are on a mission of conquest and expansionism?
“How do you compare apples with oranges, by equating Igbo spare parts dealers (who maintain log books, cash books, and accounting systems in their secluded and approved environments of peace and tranquility), with rampaging fully armed murderous bandits (passing for headers), who unleash terror and mayhem on innocent citizens?
“These open grazers kidnap travelers on the way, invade homes, rape mothers and their daughters and slash people’s throats, unprovoked, unmolested and undisturbed? Do Igbo traders overrun Northerners or Fulanis in their homes? Is it not the spaces legally allotted to them by the Federal Government, Local Governments, cities or MDAs, that they legitimately and quietly operate from?
“How do armed herders who freely trespass on people lands, destroy their crops and other means of livelihood, and slaughter them, compare with peaceful traders plying their legitimate business? Do spare parts dealers pose security threat to their host, or anyone else? The Igbos do not foist any pre-determined supremacist hegemony and irredentism agenda or other races as the herders (many of them from neighbouring countries) are currently doing.
“Freedom of movement is only for human beings. It is not for cattle, sheep and goats. Will the Northerners tolerate the open sale of alcoholic beverages in their States, even though it is the constitutional right of other ethnic groups to move about and sell beverages of their choice.
“Are these Northern elites seriously arguing that Southern State Governors cannot ban open grazing in their states, to protect their innocent citizens from deadly killer herdsmen?
Freedom of Movement Not Absolute
“The freedom of movement guaranteed in section 41 of the Constitution (though for human beings, not animals), is not even absolute at all. Section 45 is pretty straightforward as regards derogation from section 41. It provides:
“(1) Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society:
(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.”
“Thus, the right to movement in section 42 of the Constitution can be overridden by section 45 of the Constitution which allows any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health.
“Considering the incessant cases of Boko Haram killings, maiming, stealing, kidnappings, rape, armed banditry and robbery foisted on the Southern part of the country, Southern leaders have rightly taken it upon themselves to put in place laws and measures that will protect their citizens.
“To this end, it is safe to assert that individual rights to movement have not in anyway been violated by the various states’ anti-grazing laws because the laws were enacted in the interest of public safety, public order, public defence and public morality. T
“The laws of and declaration by the Southern Governors are also to protect the peace, privacy and homes of Southerners as highlighted in section 37 of the 1999 Constitution. They are also for the “purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons”.
It must be pointed out that the Governor of a State is the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of that State (sections 176(1) and 214-216 of the 1999 Constitution). By virtue of Section 1 of the Land Use Act, 1978, all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation have been vested in the Governor of that State and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians. Thus, a Governor of a State commands great power in the usage of the land in his State. See the Supreme Court case
Senator Eyinaya Abaribe also lambasted Malami’s “divisive rhetoric” as unfortunate.
“While the local “bureau de change” business mostly done by the Fulanis are operating in all parts of Nigeria, why have they 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,” he says.
Miffed about Malami;s logic, he avares, “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.
“Why should an Attorney General of the federation be so fixated in evoking ethnic/regional fault lines when duty calls for him to be a statesman. It is disheartening that Mr Abubakar Malami has chosen to debase our country. He has indeed questioned Nigeria’s unity. Very unfortunate”, Senator Abaribe said when asked his views on what Malami said.
Malami Should Resign
Senate Spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru has asked the AGF Malami to resign over the gaffe..
Senator Basiru who represents Osun central in the upper legislative chamber, called for resignation of the Attorney-General of the federation for “rubbishing” the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Basiru in a statement said Malami has no business occupying the office of the AGF, adding that the responsibility to promote unity should be that of everyone.
“Equating the activities of nomadic herdsmen destroying peoples’ means of livelihood with others legitimately carrying on businesses by selling spare parts in their shops stands logic on its head.
“Anyone who cannot rise above primordial sentiments and pursue a parochial ethnic agenda need not occupy a position of trust especially at this time of sectional agitations.
“It was not dignifying of the status of the nation’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to make such remarks.
“Those who have no meaningful contributions to national discourse operating on the basis of equity and justice should keep quiet and stop rubbishing the Buhari-led APC government.
“These kind of statements have made Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of Nations and they ridicule the administration of President Buhari. These statements are not giving hope to those at the receiving end of the activities of the herdsmen,” he says/