Nnamdi Kanu and Abubakar Malami (SAN) Former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof Bola Akinterinwa, says the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), acted like an “unlearned” fellow during the recent extradition of leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
The diplomat, who spoke while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable, also advised the Federal Government to stop the use of force on agitators and explore amicable resolutions.
Kanu, who was born on September 25, 1967, is a holder of Nigerian and British passports. Upon his re-arrest and extradition from a foreign country of recent, he was arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja for terrorism-related charges and has since been remanded in the custody of the Department of State Services. He had jumped bail before fleeing to the United Kingdom.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the British Government expressed readiness to provide “consular assistance” for Kanu but needed him to assent to the assistance by signing some forms.
But a member of Kanu’s legal team, Aloy Ejimakor, who took the forms to Kanu in DSS custody, said the secret police stopped Kanu from signing the consular assistance forms by the United Kingdom.
The development sparked reactions as to the legality and otherwise of the Nigerian government to bar Kanu from seeking consular assistance from the UK.
Asked if he foresees a diplomatic dispute between Nigeria and the UK if the former fails to explain how Kanu was brought back into the country, the ex-NIIA DG Akinterinwa said, “Yes, it is not a question for foresee, it is already there; the foundation for the diplomatic row is already laid because if you want to follow the thinking of a French school of thought which says order and counter-order amounts to disorder, I agree with this thinking.
“What we have already, we have the order on the part of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has decided to attack, in an unfriendly manner, the sovereignty of the British people and in this case, the British Government is responding by saying you Government of Nigeria, you don’t have the right to attack my own sovereignty.
“In other words, the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s order is now being countered order by the British simply because the subject matter, Nnamdi Kanu, is a citizen of the United Kingdom.
“The problem is not as simple as people would have us believe. It is most unfortunate that the very knowledgeable lawyers, who are said to be learned, the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami himself is said to be learned but the problem I always have is when you are learned and we cannot see the outcome of the extent to which one is learned for political reasons.
“You cannot be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and claim not to know what international diplomatic practice is all about. What is at stake, the encounter that we have resulting from the order of the Nigerian Government and the counter-order of the British government is what we found ourselves because the British are now saying that you cannot try to embarrass a citizen of the United Kingdom.”
The septuagenarian diplomat said though Kanu is a citizen of Nigeria by birth and later acquired British citizenship, the latter is stronger and effective than the former in international law “because as at the time of the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, he was holding a passport of the United Kingdom”.
Akinterinwa said the impending diplomatic row between Nigeria and Britain would be “catastrophic”. “It is certainly going to be very disorderly that the consequences will be more than the Umaru Dikko saga of 1984,” he said making reference to Dikko, a Minister of Transport during the administration of ex-President Shehu Shagari.
As a military head of state in 1984, the Buhari regime had allegedly arrested Dikko in London, drugged him and put him in a coffin, abducting him to Nigeria to answer allegations of corruption. The secret extradition was however foiled by the British Government.
“There must be the need to control the dictatorial blood flowing in Muhammadu (Buhari) under a democratic setting,” Akinterinwa emphasised.
The brother of the IPOB leader, Kingsley, had said Kanu was arrested in Kenya, a country in East Africa but Kenya has since denied the allegation.
However, Akinterinwa stated that Kenya cannot claim not to know about the extradition of Kanu “because the mere fact that Nnamdi Kanu was abducted on the territory of Kenya, he must have passed through the immigration desk, all the security agencies there, so they cannot lay claims to not knowing what had happened”.
“When I was calling for a learned, responsible Attorney General of Nigeria, you don’t interpret international treaties on a lighter mode, you must look at the implications. The sovereignty of Nigeria doesn’t extend beyond its international frontiers, considering the immediate Francophone neighbours.
“To have gone beyond Nigeria’s limited countries is an exaggeration. And for Kenya claiming not to know, its own international responsibility will be called to question because the country has the responsibility to protect all foreigners travelling to and travelling out of Kenya,” he added.
Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister Of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has described Kelechi Madu, minister of justice and solicitor-general of Alberta, Canada, as an “empty vessel” for criticising the arrest and repatriation of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Kanu’s arrest and extradition to Nigeria was announced last Tuesday by Malami, who said the IPOB leader must face trial for alleged treason.
He did not state where Kanu was arrested, but multiple reports claimed he was arrested and detained in Kenya illegally.
Reacting to the development, Madu, in a post on his LinkedIn page, described the AGF as “a disgrace to the rule of law.
The Canadian-Nigerian minister then urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure Kanu’s immediate release.
Responding in a statement on Wednesday, the Malami, through his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, described the ideas attributed to Madu as “outrageously ignoramus opinions that are eccentric and weird to the legal profession”.
“It is unfortunate for someone who claims to be a lawyer of a status of a Solicitor General of a provincial State of Alberta in Canada to fault the internationally recognised manner through which Nnamdi Kanu who jumped bail was re-arrested and brought back to face trial”.
“It was abundantly clear that bench warrant was lawfully and judiciously procured through judicial process by a competent court of law, whose bail condition Nnamdi Kanu breached with impunity. There was no illegality in the entire process and the question of illegality does not even arise.
“Where was the so-called Madu when Nnamdi Kanu was inciting violence against the country? Why, as a lawyer, would Madu support a fugitive who jumped bail and accused of terrorism and treasonable felony? What stopped Madu from voicing out dissent on the atrocities of Kanu and their group?
“It is important to educate the likes of Kelechi Madu that both Nigeria (his country of birth) and Canada (where he claims to be practising law) are signatories to the Multinational Treaty Agreement where, among others, fugitive fleeing justice in nations with similar agreement could be brought back to face justice.
“It is a pity that as a Solicitor General of a province, Madu failed to keep himself acquainted with the provisions of general laws of the country where he stays as well as international laws.
“As the saying goes “an empty vessel makes loudest noise”. We advise the so-called “learned man” to shelve his arrogance and learn to study the law books before opening his mouth to disgrace himself before the right thinking members of the society, thereby attracting to himself criticism that may propel doubt about his suitability for the job he claims to be doing now, after moving out of his country of origin in which he fails to excel,” the statement said.
Kelechi Madu, the Minister of Justice and Solicitor-General of the government of Albertia, Canada, has called for the immediate release of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Madu in a statement on Saturday said the the Attorney-General of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami is “a disgrace to rule of law, a “bigot” and “not worthy to be an officer of the court” stressing that both governments of Nigeria and Kenya broke major international law by abducting Kanu and moving him back to Nigeria.
The Canadian law czar also cautioned the government government of Nigeria to act in the interest of all Nigerians.
The statement reads:
“I urge the Nigerian government led by Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the safety of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra. I urge his immediate release.
“Reports suggest that Mazi Kanu was abducted in Kenya with the active collaboration of the Kenyan government led by President Uhuru Kenyatta. If true, Nigeria and Kenya violated international law and the rule of law that is supreme in their respective countries.
“I call upon the international community, and in particular, United States Embassy in Nigeria; United Kingdom embassy in Nigerian Canadian, German and Israeli embassies and the European Union in Nigeria to use all their power, including diplomacy to ensure the safety and release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“I further call on the leaders of these nations to ensure real consequences for these arbitrary violations of internationally accepted democratic norms and rules that govern civilized people, but above all, the arbitrary violations of Mazi Kanu’s fundamental human rights.
“Nigeria is burning, and the people of Nigeria, except those who are holding the country down, wants out. You cannot destroy the hope and aspiration of a people destined for greatness, and expect them to bow down in servitude.
“You cannot destroy a generation of people and expect them to not fight for their freedom. The power of the gun, state-sponsored terrorism will not achieve peace or the preservation of Nigeria.
“The Igbos and other ethnic groups in Nigeria who are calling for Nigeria to be renegotiated do not seek violence or war. They seek peace. They seek progress and the advancement of their people. Not only that, but they seek fairness, safety, equity, and justice for their people. Furthermore, they seek the opportunity for their children to grow up and achieve their God-given abundant potential. They seek the rise of a people with the work ethic, intellect and capacity to be a truly global superpower on the continent of Africa. They seek dignity over inhumane treatment. Likewise, they seek life over death.
“Friends of the black world must unite and liberate the people of Nigeria from this bondage and from the claws of corrupt and inept politicians who have no business being near the corridor of Nigeria’s political power.
“The Attorney General of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami is a disgrace to the rule of law, and not worthy to be an officer of the court. He has shown himself to be a bigot who does not understand what it means to live in a pluralistic society governed by the dictates of the rule of law.
“Finally, I must caution the present leaders of Nigeria to act in the best interests of the whole people of Nigeria. Since the inception of this government, and so far they have not been acting in all of Nigeria’s best interests”. (Journalist101)
At least five media organisations in the United States have rejected an attempt to plant opinion articles that sought to launder the image of President Muhammadu Buhari, according to U.S. government documents seen by Peoples Gazette.
Attorney General Abubakar Malami sponsored the botched opinion aimed at dispelling harsh criticisms of Mr Buhari’s human rights records and alleged persecution of Christians in Nigeria.
Mr Malami wrote the opinion in 2018 through Mount Olives LLC, a U.S.-based public relations firm. However, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Hill, and The Washington Times rejected the opinion, documents uploaded by the U.S. Department of Justice in line with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, said.
About $8,000 was paid each for the opinion. But it was unclear whether or not Mr Malami got a refund from the PR firm after the articles failed to scale through the media organisations’ rigorous editorial processes.
Mr Malami’s attempt to whitewash President Buhari’s image came amidst series of allegations of gross violation of human rights levelled against the president.
Lai, Buhari and Malami A composite of Lai Mohammed, Muhammadu Buhari and Abubakar Malami used to illustrate this story Mr Buhari has continued to show zero tolerance for freedom of speech and expression, intimidating and effecting the arrest of oppositions and activists that have been very critical of his administration, constantly kicking against demonstrations and protests against insecurity and bad governance.
Mr Buhari has also not spared media organisations regularly imposing fines and sanctions on broadcast stations. As a result, journalists under Mr Buhari’s six-year rule have continued to operate with fear in an atmosphere increasingly dangerous and toxic for media practitioners.
In January, access to the website of the online newspaper, Peoples Gazette, was outrightly and illegally restricted in what looked like a coordinated attack from the Nigerian government orchestrated by mobile telecommunication companies including MTN, Glo, and 9mobile.
The attack came after The Gazette’s October 2020 story that cast a spotlight on Bolaji Gambari as the new head of a budding cabal of administration associates inside the Presidential Villa. The newspaper also detailed the exit of Farouk Gumel, another Aso Rock policy adviser and an influential part of the cabal that held sway under Abba Kyari.
Mr Malami did not immediately return a request seeking comments about why his article was declined by the U.S. media.
The Gazette saw the documents amidst raging criticisms of the Buhari regime across the world in the wake of a Twitter ban in Nigeria.
Mr Buhari ordered Twitter banned in the country on June 4, barely a day after his tweet that appeared to threaten genocide against Igbos of Nigeria was deleted by the social media giant.
Buhari and screenshot of his genocidal tweet Information minister Lai Mohammed said the indefinite suspension of the microblog was on the grounds that the platform was used to spread false information and “activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
Pressing further, Mr Buhari’s administration on Wednesday asked the House of Representatives to empower the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate the activities of internet broadcasting entities and other online media.
Mr Mohammed, in his submission at a public hearing on a bill to amend the National Broadcasting Commission Act, asked the lawmakers to include the regulation of all online and internet broadcasting entities in section two (C) of the bill, as per a Premium Times report.
If the House considers the recommendation of the information minister, online broadcasting entities including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms will have to get approval from NBC to operate in Nigeria.
Over the years, Nigerian politicians have been in the habit of approaching Western newspapers to publish opinions to launder their images to dispel criticism.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 hired Levick, a Washington-based public relations and lobby firm, to help rev up his plummeting public approval rating after the abduction of over 250 schoolgirls by the Boko Haram insurgents.
In the same vein, Mr Buhari’s APC in 2014 paid for the services of AKPD Message and Media to improve its chances at the general elections held in 2015. In 2019 the party re-engaged AKPD Message and Media alongside a South African PR agency.
Also, former vice president Atiku Abubakar in 2019 contracted the services of top U.S lobbyist Brian Ballard U.S ahead of the 2019 Presidential election. (Peoples Gazette)
Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, posted on Facebook yesterday that he deactivated his Twitter, he was unaware that VPN was clearly shown on the screenshot he took to prove his point.
Also revealed was the banned cryptocurrency trading, which was handed down by the Central Bank. His screenshot which he displayed showed that he traded on cryptocurrency using LATOKEN.
Cryptocurrency was banned few months ago by the Central Bank of Nigeria, but to see that the man doubling as Attorney General and Minister of Justice was defying the entire law he was appointed to defend is a new low in Nigeria government.
The question is who are these folks fooling with their shenanigans and why such wicked moves to punish the people they’re supposed to build and support their well-being?
Why is an African leader extremely wicked towards their own people they’re meant to help build their future?
Clearly, Abubakar Malami knew the gains of cryptocurrency trading, which is why he is still engaging in it so, why didn’t he advise his boss not to ban it?
So, it is clear that their ban on these were merely a charade for public stunt and relation. But privately, they engage in those things they banned the public from doing. That is really very sad indeed.
A house of representatives panel says the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) illegally paid N2 billion to Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), from recovered loot.
At its sitting on Tuesday, the house ad hoc committee probing the status of recovered loot queried Malami on the funds which they said they never approved as a budgetary allocation.
The lawmakers cited a letter from the CBN which indicated that the apex bank directed the release of the funds following a request made for the money to be used to prosecute terror suspects.
They also tackled the minister of justice for allegedly requesting payment of approved solicitors’ fees from the recovered loot.
Adejoro Adeogun, chairman of the committee, said: “The honourable attorney general of the federation is requesting payment of approved solicitors’ fees. You see, you are asking for solicitors’ fees from recovered funds’ accounts. I don’t think it is proper; that is what we are talking about.
“The question I want to ask regards to the payment of N2 billion which you received for the prosecution of terrorism suspects; was it supposed to come from that [recovered funds] account or should it have been part of the budgetary spending? Is it that when you exhaust your budget, you ask these people to send you some money?”
But Malami denied making specific requests from the recovered loot, although he did not deny receiving the said N2 billion from the CBN.
“Where the money comes from is a function of the federal ministry of finance and I am not making specific requests out of the recovered assets,” he said.
The lawmakers then presented a letter from the central bank titled, ‘Request for approval to effect critical payments in respect of federal ministry of justice for the recovered (funds)’.
Adeogun said the letter shows “the attorney-general knows that this is coming from the recovered funds; which means that the attorney-general knows that he is making a request that is against the law”.
The AGF, however, insisted that the request did not originate from his office.
“There is nothing indicating a previous correspondence from the office of attorney-general nor is there anything in the opening paragraph making reference to a letter from the office of attorney-general,” he said.
‘DISCREPANCIES’ IN RECOVERED ASSETS
The panel also raised the alarm over the discrepancies in the records of recovered assets presented by various government agencies.
According to Adeogun, “the EFCC said they handed over this number of vessels to your office, the navy gives a different number and you have a different number — the same items, different inventories, different figures”.
Malami responded that he is “not in a position to confirm the discrepancies with the number of assets” and asked the lawmakers to verify so through their oversight roles.
…AND THE CONTROVERSIES CONTINUE
TheCable had earlier reported how Ahmed Idris, the accountant-general of the federation (AGF), was unable to provide records to account for €5 million recovered funds said to be missing when he appeared before the committee.
The developments are the latest in a series of controversies that have rocked the recovery of stolen funds and assets under the Buhari administration.
This is mostly loot recovered from Sani Abacha, former head of state, who Transparency International estimates stole up to $5 billion, out of which about $3.6 billion has been recovered since 1999.
TheCable had exposed how the current administration paid controversial legal fees of up to $15 million to lawyers hired by Malami for the repatriation of $321 million Abacha Loot despite that Swiss lawyers had done much of the work.
By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D
The Northern elites, including the Hon Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, miss the point sorely when they compare Igbo peaceful spare-parts dealers who go about their normal spare parts business legitimately, (building or renting their shops), with savage, maniacal AK-47-wielding herdsmen. Igbo traders do not kill or attack Northerners with their stock of motor-tyres, rims, spanners or chasis. They do not pour petrol from fuel tanks that they sell, on Fulani herdsmen. They do not use car bumpers or wind shields to smash the heads of herdsmen.
How does open and street grazing of cows by fully armed foot-patrolling youth which is now clearly anachronistic, diluvian, primitive and antiquated, be likened to legitimate spare parts business being carried out in shops or designated areas, with the Igbo traders paying tenement rate, taxes, water electricity and light bills? Have you ever heard of any herder paying tax? How do you equate spare parts dealers with mindless violence unleashed on poor helpless and hapless farmers in their own farms, and destruction of their crops with reckless abandon by these rampaging nomadic pastoralists who are on a mission of conquest and expansionism?
How do you compare apples with oranges, by equating Igbo spare parts dealers (who maintain log books, cash books, and accounting systems in their secluded and approved environments of peace and tranquility), with rampaging fully armed murderous bandits (passing for headers), who unleash terror and mayhem on innocent citizens? These open grazers kidnap travelers on the way, invade homes, rape mothers and their daughters and slash people’s throats, unprovoked, unmolested and undisturbed? Do Igbo traders overrun Northerners or Fulanis in their homes? Is it not the spaces legally allotted to them by the Federal Government, Local Governments, cities or MDAs, that they legitimately and quietly operate from?
How do armed herders who freely trespass on people lands, destroy their crops and other means of livelihood, and slaughter them, compare with peaceful traders plying their legitimate business? Do spare parts dealers pose security threat to their host, or anyone else? The Igbos do not foist any pre-determined supremacist hegemony and irredentism agenda or other races as the herders (many of them from neighbouring countries) are currently doing.
Freedom of movement is only for human beings. It is not for cattle, sheep and goats. Will the Northerners tolerate the open sale of alcoholic beverages in their States, even though it is the constitutional right of other ethnic groups to move about and sell beverages of their choice.
Are these Northern elites seriously arguing that Southern State Governors cannot ban open grazing in their states, to protect their innocent citizens from deadly killer herdsmen?
The freedom of movement guaranteed in section 41 of the Constitution (though for human beings, not animals), is not even absolute at all. Section 45 is pretty straightforward as regards derogation from section 41. It provides:
“(1) Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invaluidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society:
(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.”
Thus, the right to movement in section 42 of the Constitution can be overridden by section 45 of the Constitution which allows any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health. Considering the incessant cases of Boko Haram killings, maiming, stealing, kidnappings, rape, armed banditry and robbery foisted on the Southern part of the country, Southern leaders have rightly taken it upon themselves to put in place laws and measures that will protect their citizens. To this end, it is safe to assert that individual rights to movement have not in anyway been violated by the various states’ anti-grazing laws because the laws were enacted in the interest of public safety, public order, public defence and public morality. The laws of and declaration by the Southern Governors are also to protect the peace, privacy and homes of Southerners as highlighted in section 37 of the 1999 Constitution. They are also for the “purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons”.
In the case of KALU v. FRN & ORS (2012) LPELR-9287(CA), the Court of Appeal made it clear that the rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement are not absolute and can be derogated from:
“The rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement, guaranteed respectively by Sections 35 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution, are not absolute…Section 41(2)(a) of the Constitution says that the right to freedom of movement may be deprived under a law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society that imposes restrictions on the movement of any person who has committed or is reasonably suspected to have committed a criminal offence in order to prevent him from leaving Nigeria”. An application for enforcement of a party’s fundamental right presupposes the right has been, is being or is likely to be violated otherwise than in accordance with the procedure permitted by law. That argument will be defeated when it is apparent that the right has been deprived of in accordance with the procedure permitted by law”, Per EJEMBI EKO, JCA (as he then was) (Pp 44 – 45, Paras G – E).
The above position of the law is further strengthened by the combined effect of the provisions of sections 4(7), 5(2), 11(2), 14(2) and 176(2) of the 1999 Constitution. Section 4(7) states that the House of Assembly of a State shall have powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State. Section 5(2) provides that the executive powers of a State shall be vested in the Governor of that State. Section 11(2) gives the Governor of a State powers over the maintenance of supplies and services. Section 14(2)(b) enjoins the Governor to ensure that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Section 176(2) makes the Governor of a State its Chief Executive. So, where have the Governors of Southern States gone wrong? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
In ASARI DOKUBO V. FRN (2007) NGSC 106 (decided June 8, 2007), the apex court of Nigeria held that national security overrides personal individual rights, where it is discovered that the individual’s right poses threats to national security. Substitute for this, States’ and groups’ rights and security supersede the individual rights of few rampaging, fully armed, AK-47-clutching and wandering Fulani herdsmen who are not merely grazing their cattle, but actually on a predetermined mission of conquest, expansionism and neo-colonialism of other ethnic nationalities. Such must be fully resisted within all legal boundaries as the Southern Governors are now doing.
WHAT THE STATE GOVERNORS MUST NOW DO
The 17 Southern Governors should immediately sue the Federal Government, invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under section 232 of the 1999 Constitution. They should ask for a determination of their right to preserve their States from insecurity. Indeed, as held by the Supreme Court in AG OGUN STATE V. AG FEDERATION (1982) LPELR-11(SC), the making of law for the maintenance of law and order and securing of public safety and public order is the responsibility of both the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly. Consequently, the Southern Governors are clothed with legality and constitutionality to ban open grazing. The Governors should therefore not be burdened by the opinions of other Northern States Governors, and elites, as to do so will be limiting the Executive powers of the Governors as regards the states which they govern.
By banning open grazing, the governors are merely putting a stop to one of the greatest known sources of wars and terrorist convergence in their respective states. In my humble opinion, the Governors’ call is part of their responsibilities to the people of their states as the main mandate of each and every Governor is to protect the lives and property of the people of the states they govern. The openness of the Governors to the idea of yet another National dialogue to curb the insecurity (which I however consider unnecessary in view of the unused over 600 recommendations of the 2014 National Conference) can be seen as a honest bi-partisan call to see to the end of insecurity menace in Nigeria.
PRO-ACTIVE STEPS ALREADY TAKEN BY SOME STATE GOVERNORS
Some State Governors and Houses of Assembly in Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Oyo and Osun States have since taken steps by getting anti-grazing laws passed by their Houses of Assembly. For instance, there existed and extant, section 42(e) & (g) of the Ondo State Forestry Law which prohibit cattle tresspassing and cattle pasteurisation without the authority in writing of a prescribed Government Official.Indeed, Governor Samuel Orton of Benue State has already taken proactive steps to stop being the wailing Chief mourner of his people being murdered daily in cold blood by Fulani herdsmen (many a time with the active connivance of federal troops). He got the House of Assembly to enact the anti-RUGA (Rural Grazing Area) and Cattle Colony Law, called the “Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law”, No 21 of 2017. He went further by challenging the Federal Government RUGA policy at the Federal High Court, Makurdi, in the case of AG OF BENUE STATE V. AG OF THE FEDERATION. On 4th February, 2020, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the FHC, Makurdi, held that any move by the FG to acquire land for RUGA or cattle colony in Benue State without the State Government was null and void. The Judge granted an order nullifying every action of the FG to establish RUGA or cattle colony. Many constitutional provisions such as sections 5(6), 9(2), 20, 44(1), 58 and 315(5) and 6(b) were considered. Also considered were sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 26, 28 and 49 of the Land Use Act vis-à-vis sections 4, 5, 6, 7 and 19(c) of the Benue State Anti-Grazing Law.
It must be pointed out that the Governor of a State is the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of that State (sections 176(1) and 214-216 of the 1999 Constitution). By virtue of Section 1 of the Land Use Act, 1978, all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation have been vested in the Governor of that State and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians. Thus, a Governor of a State commands great power in the usage of the land in his State. See the Supreme Court case of NIGERIA ENGINEERING WORKS LTD V. DENAP LTD & ANOR (2001) LPELR-2002(SC).
SHOULD SOUTHERN GOVERNORS HAVE FIRST CONSULTED THE NOTHERN ESTABLISHMENT?
The answer to this is a capital NO!
It must be emphasized that the decision of the Southern Governors does not in actuality impede the rights of cow rearers to own cattle. It merely limits their ability to openly graze on lands that are not theirs in the first place and inflict misery on the indigenous owners. The ban will also ignite more anti-grazing laws in other states in Nigeria.
Those Northern elites arguing that consultation ought to have been first made by Southern Governors before making such resolutions have not advanced any plausible argument anchored on the Constitution. In fact, they ought to applaud the Southern Nigerian Governors for willfully choosing to dialogue with their Northern counterparts and avoiding an impending doom.
The few wailing Northern elites have not explained to Nigerians why they never consulted their Southern counterparts before passing and enforcing Sharia Law in their States; or passing the various Hisbah laws. Did some of these Governors not cut off citizens’ hands for various offences, to the angst and condemnation of international communities? Did they not order for some others to be stoned? Recall the unfortunate cases of Buba Jangebe (2000), Auwalu Abubakar (23), Lawalli Musa (22), Abubakar Aliyu (15), Attahiru Umaru, Sani Rodi, Sarimu Baranda, Safiya Hussein, Amina Lawal and many others for merely either stealing a cow, bull, N32,000 or committing adultery. Did the Northern Governors consult their Southern counterparts? They did not explain why Southern Governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their States should first obtain their permission (like a pupil from a Headmaster) before dealing with security matters in their various States. It only shows their mindset of a relationship of masters and servants; conquerors and vassals; slave owners and slaves. They failed to tell Nigerians that all the Northern Governors had actually pro-actively taken a unanimous position to ban open grazing, at its virtual meeting held on February 9, 2021, presided over by their Chairman, Simon Lalong Governor of Plateau State. They had unanimously agreed that the “current system of herding conducted mainly through open grazing is no longer sustainable in view of growing urbanization and population of the country”. While urging all the Governors to meet over this matter, they agreed on other methods such as ranching. These critics of the Southern Governors hid the fact that in response to the Northern Governors’ call, the entire Nigerian Governors’ Forum of the 36 State Governors held a virtual meeting on February 11 (two days later) and unanimously agreed to end nomadic and pastoral cattle wandering, “to address the rising insecurity in the country and the activities of herdsmen…and the need for the country to transition into modern systems of animal husbandry that will replace open, night and underage grazing in the country”. They also encouraged ranching as alternative. The Northern elites carefully screened away the fact that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano State Governor’s had openly supported adopting anti-grazing measures.
Ganduje had argued in February, 2021, during his meeting with President Buhari and other APC Governors that such a ban would not only solve incessant clashes between farmers and herders, but also prevent cattle rustling. Inspite of attempts by some Northern groups to cow in, Ganduje stuck to his guns.
These Northern elites hid the fact that, as far back as 26th April, 2018, (over 3 years ago), the National Executive Council (NEC) had approved the recommendation of its sub-committee that open grazing of cattle be banned across the country.
The three-man sub-committee on herdsmen/farmers clashes constituted by the Buhari Government in February, 2018, was headed by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi.
It was specifically mandated to unravel the causes of herdsmen/farmers clashes (wrong usage: herdsmen’s unproved attacks on farmers is better). It was to dialogue with relevant stakeholders to end the killings of innocent citizens.
Other members of the sub-committee included Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), and Bindo Jubrilla (Adamawa). The panel was mandated to visit Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and Adamawa states.
Umahi had told Nigerians after the NEC meeting at the Presidential Villa presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that the panel submitted its report to the Council which okayed the recommendation to ban open grazing, opting instead for the establishment of ranches in states affected by the herdsmen onslaught.
Governor Umahi, who said his team visited five states Benue, Taraba, Plateau Adamawa and Zamfara, said there were three main categories of herdsmen in Nigeria. These, according to him, are foreign herdsmen, nomadic herdsmen and migrant herdsmen, whose continued activities have resulted in clashes with farmers.
He said the NEC also agreed that the states affected by herdsmen killings should donate land for the establishment of ranches that will include nomadic schools and health facilities for their family members. Said Umahi:
“Niger and Kaduna have given lands, and Plateau is also giving land. We also agreed that through the agriculture ministry, we have to introduce new species of cows…… and to stop the further influx of foreign herdsmen into the country”.
So, where did the Southern Governors go wrong in reaffirming Federal Government and Northern Governors position? I cannot see it. Or can you?
Recall also that on September 10, 2019, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, had also inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan at the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve, in Mayo-Belwa LGA of Adamawa State. Inaugurating the said project, Osinbajo said the plan was designed to run from 2019-2028, as part of Federal Government’s initiative in collaboration with States under the auspices of the National Economic Council. He said the plan, targeted at supporting the development of Nigeria’s livestock sector, was to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.
According to the Vice President, the plan will be implemented as a collaboration project between the Federal and State governments, farmers, pastoralists and private investors. He said:
“In this plan, the State Government or private investors provide the land, the federal government does not and will not take any land from a State or local government…Any participating state will provide the land and its own contribution to the project. The federal government merely supports…It is a plan that hopes to birth tailor-made ranches where cattle are bred, and meat and dairy products are produced using modern livestock breeding and dairy methods…This solves the problem of cattle grazing into and destroying farmlands. It ensures a practical response to the pressures on water and pasture by forces of climate change”.
He noted that the plan was designed to provide modern meat and dairy industry and, in some cases, integrated crop farming. According to Osinbajo, the unique feature of the plan is that any participating state will determine its own model. Osinbanjo continued:
“I wish to emphasise that this is not RUGA. Because the idea of RUGA settlements launched by the Ministry of Agriculture created a problem when it was perceived as a plan to seize lands to create settlements for herders…RUGA was not the plan designed and approved by the governors and the President rightly suspended the implementation”.
Thus, even the Federal Government at the centre had already opposed anti-grazing and embraced ranching. So, where did the Southern Governors go wrong? I cannot see it. Or, can you?
SALEH’S ILLOGICAL AND PROVOCATIVE INANITY
Did you read the provocative inanity uttered by one Alhassan Saleh, National Secretary of Miyetti Allah? I read it, and became more convinced that our dire national situation may be hopeless afterall. Hear him deliver his gibberish sermon:
“If the south feels because they have oil, they can show this open hatred to the Fulani, I bet you, they are late. You cannot expel an ethnic group that has a population of 17 million people from an entity. So, if the agitators want to divide the country today, or this minute, we will help. We are ready to go. We are more prepared than any other tribe.
Nowhere is this type of ban done. You can only control it. But the Fulani, by nature, move about with their animals. They are not only in Nigeria, they are all over Africa…
They (Southerners) want to force us to react but we don’t react that way. Compared to what we went through in Guinea and Sudan and we survived, this is even a child’s play. We understand that 2023 is also part of the game plan. They want to get power on a platter of gold. Nobody will give them power like that. They must seek our support. People who want power don’t behave in this matter…
Today, we are ready, let them divide the country. Let them not wait till tomorrow. We are better prepared than any other ethnic nationality. So, we are ready, let them divide the country. Let us die, we that don’t have the oil.”
QUESTIONS BEGGING FOR ANSWERS FROM SALEH
Let me interrogate Saleh’s thesis with some questions. Is Saleh really telling us that cattle breeders (just like Igbo Alaba shop owners, or Yoruba cocoa farmers, or Ijaw fishermen (examples not used in any derogatory sense but to make the point), have so cheapened the proud Fulani race of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio (born Usman bi Fudi; 1754 – 1817), that they have actually become the Fulani’s mouthpiece, their spokespersons? I cannot understand this. Or can you? So, to ensure peace, Fulani herders who “are not only in Nigeria, but all over Africa (moving) about with their animals”, should be allowed to commit genocide against other Nigerians?
Let me ask Saleh one question: who is the aggressor? Did other Nigerians invade Fulani towns to attack them? So, Saleh is saying that Fulani herdsmen who migrate from all over Africa through open borders of the North (those of the South are firmly shut) should be allowed unchallenged, as they have been doing, especially since the last 6 years of the Buhari government, to continue to attack innocent people in their homes, spill blood and rape their wives and daughters? So, Fulanis should be allowed to invade helpless farmers’ farms, kill the farmers with their sophisticated AK-47 riffles, destroy their farms and freely graze on their crops with their cattle? Oh, Fulanis must be allowed to walk leisurely with herds and hordes of cattle across the Federal Secretariat buildings and Three Arms Zone of Abuja, with vehicles and trekking human beings stopping and waiting for them to pass? So, that is Saleh’s own warped idea of living together? So, Southerners should be wiped out from the face of Nigeria in a carefully choreographed genocidal script, and they must not complain just because they will seek power, and must need Fulani support? So, the Southern Governors hate the Fulanis for telling them to stop open grazing and movement of cows by road across the South, thereby killing innocent people and destroying people’s means of livelihood? So, the life of a cow is more precious than that of a human being?
I cannot understand Saleh and his Miyetti Allah’s reasoning and illogicality. Or can you? So, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State is a “vagabond-in-power”, simply because he cried out that he was tired of being a helpless undertaker, coffin maker, an elegy orator and chief mourner presiding over daily slaughter of his own people?
So, because the Fulanis are all over Africa, and they had successfully overrun Guinea and Sudan (predominantly Muslim countries), they should also be allowed to overrun plural Nigeria (there are actually more Christians than Muslims even in the North) and wipe out the other 373 ethnic groups of Nigeria (according to Professor Onigu Otite)? I cannot comprehend this man. Or can you?
More questions please, Saleh: So, a personal profit-making venture such as cattle rearing should be forced willy-nilly on all other Nigerians as a fundamental objective and directive principle of state policy? So, the yam produce, cocoa palm kernel and tomatoes farmers of other ethnic groups, should equally be allowed to invade and seize Fulani lands and impose their trade on them? How would the Fulanis feel if the Igbos insist that because they are excellent traders, shops must be built for them by the Federal and State Governments across Nigeria, free of charge, to ply their lucrative trade? How will they feel if rearers of pigs (even when the Muslim Fulanis forbid pork meat) overrun their territories with hordes of pigs, all in the name of keeping Nigeria together?
Nigeria’s population projection by the United Nations for July, 2021, is 210,665,492. Of this number, only 17 million people are Fulanis, according to Saleh. There are three classes of Fulanis based on settlement patterns: the Nomadic/Pastoral or Mbororo; the Semi-Nomadic and the “Settled” or “Town Fulanis”. Thus, the Miyetti Allah nomadic or pastoral group constitutes only one-third of Fulanis in Nigeria. This means, speaking arithmetically, 8% people out of Nigeria’s population of 210.6 million people. So, going by Alhassan Saleh’s puerile vituperations, a tiny, but powerful, well-connected, power-dominating minority of 8% of Nigeria’s population must be allowed forever to tyranise the vast majority, impose their will; govern them by force; kill them; wipe them out of Nigeria, all in the name of peace, unity, indissolubility and indivisibility of Nigeria? So, the other 92% Nigerian majority should be held down by the jugular, just to make Nigeria work and prevent Fulanis from leaving Nigeria? Haba! I can never understand this man and the cattle rearers he spoke for. Or can you?
Nigeria is a Federation that operates the principles of federalism. Under this, the FG, States and LGAs have their respective rights and spheres of influence. There is the exclusive, concurrent and residual lists under the Constitution. This was why Justice Olajuwon of the FHC, Makurdi, held that since land in every State is controlled and managed by the Governor and LGs of such States, the FG cannot whimsically and capriciously grab lands in States; but must go through either the Governor or LG of such State.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday, slammed Southern governors for banning open grazing in the region.
According to the AGF, open grazing ban is the same thing as Northern governors banning spare parts trading in their own region considering the fact that Southerners comprise a majority of spare parts traders in the North.
Malami spoke while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme monitored by The PUNCH.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that about 17 southern governors met on last week in Asaba, the Delta State capital, and resolved to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region as some kidnappings and killings in the Southern region have been traced to criminal elements amongst herders.
The governors called for the restructuring of the country along fiscal federalism, devolution of powers and state policing. They also called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to address the nation and convoke a national dialogue to address widespread agitations amongst various groups in the region.
Restructuring: Lawan’s stand personal, Senate President can’t decide for lawmakers, says Ondo Senator, Tofowomo Northern elites and Asaba Declaration But the governors’ resolution also known as the Asaba Accord has raised dust, especially in Northern Nigeria, with many critics including Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello; and Senators Ali Ndume from Borno South Senatorial District, amongst others.
Speaking also on the ban on Wednesday, Malami described it as an illegality.
He said, “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 minister 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.” (Punch)
Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the loot recovered from James Ibori, former governor of Delta, should be returned to the source, which is the state.
Falana stated this when he featured on a Channels Television programme on Wednesday.
Commenting on the position of Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, who had said the recovered loot will be channelled into federal projects, Falana said the money should go to Delta, since it was meant for the development of the state.
On Tuesday, the United Kingdom made a commitment to return £4.2 million loot recovered from Ibori to the federal government.
Catriona Laing, British high commissioner to Nigeria, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to that effect with Malami.
But speaking on Wednesday, Falana argued that since the Ibori loot in question left the coffers of Delta state, the federal government has no locus standi to decide how the recovered money is spent.
“Having acknowledged the role of the federal government, the fund has to return to the source. Factually, between 1999 and 2003, the Delta state government like other state governments in Nigeria received its statutory allocation on a monthly basis and paid same into the account of the government. From that account, some amount was alleged to have been diverted and taken to the United Kingdom,” he said.
“As the honourable attorney-general had said, the money is over £100 million. What has been released now is the first tranche of £4.2 million. Since the money left the coffers of the Delta state government, it has to be returned once this fund is recovered.
“The federal government has no locus standi with respect to how the money is spent. That is left for the people of Delta state to monitor the government of that state to ensure that the fund is not relooted.
“In fact, the memorandum of understanding referred to by the attorney-general signed in London, smacks of colonialism. Britain cannot decide on how recovered loot should be spent.
“What I expect the attorney-general or the federal government — in the circumstance — is to collaborate with the Delta state government to ensure that the banks that housed the looted wealth of Delta state or the banks involved, are made to pay collosal damages and interests for denying the people of Delta state the opportunity to use the money for development.”