A frontline human rights activist and lawyer, Barrister Femi Aborisade has said that the Federal Government has no justifiable legal basis to recover or create grazing reserves across Nigeria.
He noted that such can only be achieved by military violence against unarmed people.
Aborisade said such a move by the Federal Government would amount to a declaration of war against the peaceful Nigerian people, create and fan embers of mutual ethnic hatred, conflict, and avoidable bloodshed.
He called on the ordinary people to reject and resist the grazing reserves project of the Federal Government.
“All 36 state governors, nationally and regionally, have resolved that open grazing is unsustainable. It causes avoidable bloody clashes between herders and farmers. Rather, ranching should be embraced.
“I do not see how the Federal Government can achieve its project of creating or recovering grazing preserves across Nigeria.
“Firstly, the Grazing Reserves Act of 1964 was limited to the Northern Region; it was not applicable to the other regions.
Secondly, section 1 of the Land Use Act vests land ownership in the territory of the state in the governor for the benefit of all Nigerians. Therefore, the administration of land in the territory of a state is in the control of the state government, not the Federal Government.
“Thirdly, Nigeria now operates the 1999 Constitution. Section 297(2), of the Constitution vests Land ownership (and by extension, administration of land) in the territory of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the Federal Government.
“Beyond the FCT, Abuja, the Federal Government lacks the power to control or administer land.
“The FGN has to approach, beg or request for land from the State Government and it is at the discretion of the state government to grant or refuse such requests by the Federal Government.
“By section 44 of the Constitution, the Federal Government lacks the power to compulsorily acquire land not granted by the consent of a state government.
“Therefore, there is no way the Federal Government can force its grazing reserves creation or recovery on the state Governments. That would be unconstitutional and unlawful. That would be arbitrary.
“By the combined provisions of the Land Use Act, particularly section 1 of the Act earlier referred to, and section 4(7) (a) of the Constitution, which vests the power to make laws on items not expressly included in the Exclusive legislative list, in the State
“Government, land administration in the territory of each state is vested in the State Government, for the benefit of all Nigerians, in manners provided by law, he said
Barrister Aborisade said he is in support of the governors who have declared their opposition to grazing reserves creation or recovery.
“I support the ban on open grazing. It should be enacted into law and enforced. Ordinary people must insist that Nigeria is governed according to. predetermined laws and not the whims and caprices of those in control of the Federal Government.
“The plan to create and/or recover so-called grazing reserves/sites can be stopped by legal action and by political action of mobilising public opinion and conducting peaceful mass protests.
“The law, as established by the court is that any person who has paid tax can approach the court to set aside or declare null and void, any act or law which is contrary to the Constitution, ” he said.