Editorial: Open grazing and the Miyetti Allah’s vituperation

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With anti-open grazing law in place in most southern Nigerian state, the southern governors are beginning to back their May 2021 meeting commitment with action when they unanimously decided to place ban on open grazing in the southern parts of the country due to the incessant clashes between farmers and the herders and also the criminality allegedly perpetrated by some of the herders. Of the 17 southern states only Akwa Ibom, Abia, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Ondo, Imo and Enugu that have passed the law.

As a result of this, one of the herders groups, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore recently mocked the 17 governors for not meeting up to their September 1 deadline for the enacting and implementing the anti-open grazing laws in their states. The national president of the group, Abdullahi Bodejo said the governors decided to make the move as part of their ulterior motives ahead of the 2023 elections and threatened to challenge the law in court.

The group described the law as ‘satanic agenda’ to destroy the sources of livelihood of the herders and called on the National Assembly to intervene. They threatened that the anti-open grazing law is a threat to the corporate existence of the country.

The back and forth generating from the grazing controversy has created more confusion than necessary following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the recommendations of a committee chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, in which the president approved the review of 368 grazing reserves across 25 states in the country. The President Buhari’s approval that grazing reserves in some states should be reviewed contradict the dictates of the constitution and the Land Use Act that explicitly spelt out that state governors are the custodians of lands in their state.

The anti-open grazing law is a product of necessity as a result of the clashes between the herdsmen and farmers which has claimed lives of innocent Nigerians. It was first enacted in Benue state where appears to be one of the epicentres of the clashed between these two groups.

Like the proponents of ranching and the anti-open grazing, the continual open grazing would only lead to more bloodshed and losses in both human and economy. Open grazing is absolutely not applicable in the 21st century. It has evolved to a more productive and profitable method of grazing- Ranching.

We are however worried by the open vituperation and threats of leadership of herdsmen in the country. They had at various times vowed to work against the laws of the states where their cattle graze and even the country at large. There is the perception that their activities and dangerous excesses are condoned by the government because of their affiliation to President Buhari. We call on the president to call them to order for peace to reign in the country.

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