By Zika Bobby
An Igbo group, Igboekulie has called for the stepping down of the National Grazing Reserve Commission Bill in the National Assembly.
According to the group, the bill, which has passed Second Reading in the Senate, portends grave danger for peace and unity in Nigeria, adding that the Bill, if passed, will create many other problems rather than solving any.
In a statement signed by Prince Ben Onuora and Mr. Benjamin Obidegwu, the group’s chairman and secretary respectively, Igboekulie said the Bill has the potential of creating more tension and ultimately more violence, adding that the bill is unconstitutional, wasteful, self-serving, retrogressive, discriminatory and deceitful.
“In the Senate, there is a bill for the creation of National Grazing Reserve Commission and it has passed the second reading. Though the bill had been proposed in the past and was thrown out for good reasons, there is an attempt to resurrect the bill and rush it through the legislature process.”
Analysing Section 17(1) of the bill, the group said: “There is an element of compulsory acquisition power granted to the commission once “it appears” to it that the land is good for grazing to seize the land of peasant and other farmers all over Nigeria for the use of the herdsmen for whose benefit the Grazing Reserves are to be created. This is unacceptable.”
“This bill seeks to violate the Constitution of Nigeria by authorising the commission to merely give “due notice” in Section 18(1) to any state governor in whose state land is to be acquired.
“It follows that the commission has the power to seize people’s lands for the benefit of Fulani herdsmen, who conveniently fall into” any class of persons.”
While stating that the Federal Government has no business participating directly in the business of planting and maintaining grass for herdsmen, the group noted that land is not as abundant in the South, particularly in the South East zone where persons are unable to find just one plot for building a house or farming.
“It is clear that this bill is unconstitutional, wasteful, self-serving, retrogressive, discriminatory and deceitful. It is a time bomb capable of igniting monumental crises in all places where attempts are made to dispossess the poor who are victims of the aggression of the herdsmen of their lands,” the group said.
“We hereby call on the members of the National Assembly with conscience, civil society groups, farmers and all other Nigerians to rise up and ensure that this bill is jettisoned immediately,” it added. The Sun