The Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) has backed the decision of southern governors to ban open grazing in their respective states.

The group, led by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday said the only solution to farmers-herders violence is the adoption of ranching against open grazing.

It maintained that some African countries like Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia have adopted ranching to end the crisis.

“As I had repeatedly maintained, the worsening insecurity in the country including the violent clashes between herders and farmers can only be seriously addressed if policy makers are prepared to abandon primitive ideas and embrace scientific solutions.

“As far back as 2016, the Buhari administration had adopted ranching in place of open grazing on farmlands without the authorisation of the owners. Unfortunately, due to pressure from some selfish interest groups, the federal government abandoned the policy of ranching.

“However, the increasing wave of insecurity in recent times has compelled the federal government and all the state governments to make ranching as the cornerstone of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

“From the information at our disposal, no fewer than 24 state governments have applied for the special grant earmarked for the establishment of ranches by the federal government.

Mr Falana noted that ”every citizen is entitled to the fundamental right to freedom of movement and right to own and acquire land in any part of Nigeria by virtue of sections 41 and 43 of the Nigerian Constitution respectively”.

“To that extent, herders, like other citizens, are at liberty to acquire land for cattle business under the Land Use Act.

“Curiously, Professor Usman Yusuf has condemned the decision of the Southern Governors’ Forum on the ban. Even though he did not condemn the decisions of the Northern Governors’ Forum and the Nigeria Governors Forum, Professor Usman has argued that the decision of the Southern Governors Forum could not be justified under the Land Use Act. Such divide-and-rule tactics are designed to further polarise the masses of our people.

“Those who are encouraging herders to reject modern animal husbandry are advised to learn from Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia that have effectively adopted ranching to end clashes between herders and farmers. In those countries, farmers live in the ranches with family members including their children and wards who attend schools in the neighbourhood,” Mr Falana said in the statement.

This newspaper on Tuesday reported how 17 states in Southern Nigeria resolved to ban open grazing of cattle in their states. The decision was reached in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

Open grazing of cattle has often caused conflicts between host communities and migrant herders, leading to several deaths in many states.

Some of the herders have also been accused of committing other criminal acts like armed robbery, kidnappings, and murder. Herders have also accused the locals of rustling their cows.

Following the incessant conflict, the southern governors held a meeting in Asaba on Tuesday.

Before then, Ondo and Oyo states had announced the ban on open grazing.

In Ogun, the speaker of the assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, also said plans were underway to legislate on animal husbandry and related activities through the enactment of an all-inclusive law on anti-open grazing in the state.

All South-east governors, during the launch of their Ebube Agu security outfit in April, also banned open grazing and urged the security agencies to enforce the ban in the states.


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