Anti-Grazing Prohibition Law: a new way to end herdsmen’s massacre

by Temitope Adigun

In the words of Professor Wole Soyinka “For every crime, there must be restitution. The nomads of the world cannot place themselves above the law of settled humanity”. Billowing like bush fires across the country is the nightmare of repeated Fulani herdsmen attacks on host communities. One of the core responsibilities of any responsive government is to guarantee the security of its citizenry. Any public office holders, be it a governor or president who fails in this regard is lacking in his responsibilities and incompetent.

Like the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode has set a standard by making Lagos a place to seek not only shelter but also treasure and a model for other states, Ortom and Fayose’s anti-grazing laws are a template to emulate by concerned states as well as the country at large.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, signing of the grazing bill into law is a laudable effort towards the maintenance of internal security. It will certainly snuff out the aggravating tension over murderous activities of the herdsmen that have enveloped the country in recent times.

Constitutionally, herdsmen are forbidden from carrying arms and movement of cows and other animals from one location to another. The law further proscribes six months imprisonment without option of fine for any herdsman who violates the grazing prohibition, while any herdsman found with arms will be charged with terrorism.

The development is fallout of prevalent bloodletting activities of the recalcitrant herdsmen which have continue unabated. They grazed on cash crops, trespassing on private property and causing unquantifiable loss for the farmers and affected communities.

The African genocides should at least teach how dangerous rogue communities can be, and what dire consequences this kind of activities could incite. The nefarious activities of the Fulani herdsmen is yet another stylish nay unfortunate plan to provoke an ethic conflict, should we not arrest and address the case appropriately and earnestly?

It was however reported that the Herdsmen association vowed to challenge anti-grazing laws introduced by some of the states in the court. According to the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Castle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) Baba Ngelzarma, the implementation of the laws is another way to create crisis in the country, adding that the pastoralists, who were largely uneducated, would view the anti-grazing laws as a way of forcing them out of their ancestral and cultural way of earning a living.

He said, “We are going to challenge this anti-grazing law in courts and some of us have taken the matter to international court because that is the only option left for us. This is a breach of the constitution and the fundamental human rights of our members”.

“These pastoralists will take the law as something that is totally strange, a plot to take them away from what they inherited from their forefathers. They will see it as a failure on their part. If these grazing reserves that we have in the North can be maintained and rehabilitated. With the provision of boreholes and designated grazing lands, I see no reason why the pastoralist need to continue to roam around. We are sensitising our people on the need for them to remain peaceful; not to initiate conflict, not to encroach into peoples’ farms”, he said.

Although, we cannot excuse the fact that their cattle are being stolen, this is a lawful society and it is wrong to have taken laws into their hands. There are provisions that allow them easily call on the government or prosecute their violators to court so that they may get the desired justice. Instead, they have chosen to employ other forms of conflict resolution. They operate under the guise of religion and ethnic affiliations. But, behind the masks lie the ugly and inhuman faces of the devils, like Shakespeare stated “Hell is empty, the Devils are here”.

However, the federal government should see Ekiti, Benue states’ and other states grazing law fundamental and a big “no” to the contentious grazing reserve bill and look for alternative ways of ending the herdsmen’s massacre.

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