The leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), Chief Edwin Clark, says President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence on open grazing is “unpatriotic and unacceptable”.
Clark argued that the Land Use Act vested land ownership in states on governors.
In a statement, Clark warned Malami against “misleading and misdirecting” the president, adding that the office of the AGF is expected to be “independent of parochial and unconstitutional government decisions”.
He noted that one of the recommendations of the 2014 national conference is that the office of the AGF should be separated from that of the minister of justice.
“I repeat, on behalf of southerners, that open grazing has been finally buried in southern Nigeria. For Mr. President to insist that open grazing should continue whereby he asked the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, to dig out the gazette that approved open grazing in the First Republic is unbelievable, unpatriotic and unacceptable to our people,” he said
“Mr. President should regard himself as President of one Nigeria, and not as President of the Fulanis or the Northerners. We shall resist, at all cost, any attempt to subjugate us as citizens of one Nigeria.
“I also use this opportunity to seriously advise the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, over his irresponsible and unprofessional language, which is misleading and misdirecting Mr. President, because the rhetorical question Mr. President asked during his interview with Arise Television, whether Nigerians want him (Mr. President) to contradict the attorney general of the federation, was based on his understanding of the AG’s advice to him.
“The AG’s position is provided for in the constitution, and he is expected to be independent of parochial and unconstitutional Government decisions. He behaves as if his position is that of a Minister of Justice alone.
“This was the reason why at the 2014 national conference it was recommended that the post of the attorney general, recognised by the Constitution should be separated from that of the minister of justice who owes his allegiance to the Government in power that appointed him.
“Perhaps Mr. President is not aware, or he has not been advised by the AG that the Land Use Act which vested ownership of land on the State Governor is entrenched in the Constitution of the country.”
Recently, the issue of open grazing has dominated the discourse on Nigeria’s political space, following the incessant clashes between farmers and herders.
In May, southern governors resolved to ban open grazing in their region — a decision that sparked divergent views.
The decision did not go down well with Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, who argued that the ban on open grazing is against the freedom of movement enshrined in the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari, while responding to questions on Arise TV on the position of southern governors and AGF’s stance, said he has asked the AGF to recover lands meant for grazing routes as stipulated in the first republic gazette.