Opinion

Abubakar Malami: The analogy of herdsmen and spare parts dealers, By Dr Dons Eze

Access Bank

President Muhammadu Buhari is in trouble. This is because there are a lot of people who present themselves to him as his friends, but who actually are his enemies. These people do not want Buhari to succeed, because they mislead him, give him wrong advise, and put his regime in bad light before the public.

If it is not Lai Mohammed, always parroting like canary, and deploying all lies at his disposal to hoodwink those he thought were unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood, it will be Garba Shehu, attracting quantum of enemies to the administration through his propaganda and combativeness, or Femi Adesina, trying to make darkness look like daylight, just to please his paymasters and save his job. They all cage our President and hold him hostage. What a pity!

Since the meeting of Southern Governors in Asaba, Delta State, where without mincing words, the governors demanded the restructuring of the country and also banned open grazing of cattle in their states, not a few of President Buhari’s so-called friends were unsettled.

Rubber-stamp Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, rushed to Aso Rock, where Buhari is the Chief Tenant, and told the Southern Governors to first restructure their states before asking for Nigeria to be restructured. That was to please the President.

Now, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has slammed the Southern Governors for banning open grazing of cattle in their region.

Speaking on a television programme, Malami compared the Southern Governors ban of open grazing, carried out by Fulani herdsmen, to if the Northern Governors were also to ban spare parts trading, mostly carried out by South Easterners, in their own region.

According to the Attorney General: “It is about constitutionality. Within the context of the freedoms enshrined in our constitution, can you deny a right of a Nigerian?

“It is as good as saying may be the Northern Governors coming together to say that they prohibit spare parts trading in the North. Does it hold water? Does it hold water for a Northern governor to come and state expressly that he now prohibits spare parts trading in the North?”

Continuing, the Chief Law Officer of the federation said: “If you are talking of a constitutionally guaranteed right, the better approach to it is perhaps to go back and ensure that the constitution is amended. The freedom and liberty of movement, amongst others, is established by the constitution.

“If by an inch, you want to have any compromise, the better approach is to go back to the National Assembly for open grazing to be prohibited and see whether you can have the desired support for the constitutional amendment in that respect, but it is a very dangerous position for any governor in Nigeria to think that he can bring about any compromise on the freedom and liberty of individuals to move around.”

Perhaps, Abubakar Malami was not being too pretty or sarcastic. How could he compare the spare parts dealers, who genuinely registered their businesses, rent and pay for their shops, and pay various taxes and rates, with the murderous Fulani herdsmen, who hide in the bushes with their cattle, and then trample on people’s farmlands, destroy their crops, kill, maim and rape their women?

Have the spare parts dealers ever trampled on anybody’s rights? Have they ever destroyed anybody’s property? Have they ever killed or maimed anybody, or raped any woman? These are questions the Attorney General should answer with all sincerity and honesty.

When Abubakar Malami was talking about freedom of movement, that the Fulani herders have the freedom to go to anywhere they like in the country, as guaranteed by the Constitution, then, the Honourable Attorney General or any of his officers, has no right whatsoever to stop me, if I desire to enter into his office anytime I like, or into the Aso Rock itself?

Freedom of movement without restriction or without responsibility is nothing but anarchy and confusion, and is never practised anywhere in the world.

In any case, I do not even think that the Southern Governors had ever proposed to restrict anybody’s movement in the South, only that cattle should not graze in open fields or in farmlands. Whoever wants to rear cattle should buy a land, encircle it and lead his cattle inside it. They call it ranching. It is criminal for cattle to be allowed to graze in the open field, and destroy people’s property and farmlands.

I am not a lawyer, but I think if we search our statute books, we may find something like bye laws prohibiting animals from entering into people’s farmlands and destroying their property. I also think that there are laws against trespassing and encroachment on people’s land.

I do not think that the people who enacted these laws went to the National Assembly to seek for permission before enacting them as Abubakar Malami had suggested. But these all add to misleading our President.

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