Despite the number of violent attacks credited to foreign herdsmen that roam within Nigeria, the federal government, on Thursday, gave reasons why non-citizens cannot be prevented from grazing their cattle in the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, made this known at a Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum on Grazing Reserves and Stock Routes in Abuja.
Ogbeh said the goverment, through the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol, has guaranteed freedom of movement to citizens of other ECOWAS countries.
He said the regional agreement was similar to the fundamental right of movement in the Nigerian constitution.
“The Nigerian constitution has given every citizen the fundamental right to freedom of movement in search of legitimate businesses; transhumance pastoralism is seen along these lines.”
“For pastoralists from neighbouring West African countries, access to grazing rights in other countries in the ECOWAS zone including Nigeria, are guaranteed by the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol of 1998 and ECOWAS Protocol of Free Movement of Goods and Persons in West Africa.”
He noted that upon fulfilling the conditions laid out in the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol, herdsmen can pasture their cattle across the region.
“So it is not strange to see a Malian, Burkinabe or Nigerien pastoralist grazing his cows, sheep or goats in Nigeria or a Nigerian pastoralist grazing his livestock in Benin, Togo or Ghana and by extension, transhumance pastoralists from other neighbouring countries.”