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Herdsmen To Pay For Grazing Reserves, State, Community Police Will End Killings – VP Osibanjo

yemi-osinbajo1
                          Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Lekan Adetayo, Leke Baiyewu and Olaleye Aluko

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday stated that the Federal Government lacked the powers to seize land from states for the establishment of grazing reserves or livestock production centres.

Osinbajo also announced that herdsmen would pay for the services to be rendered by the proposed ranches or grazing reserves by the government.

He stated these at the opening ceremony of a two-day summit on national security organised by the Senate in Abuja.

Also in attendance are the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.); the service chiefs and senators.

Osinbajo said, “Let me reiterate that on no account will any land be seized or forcefully taken to create ranches or grazing areas. All insinuations to that effect should be disregarded. No one is giving land to herdsmen, as is being falsely alleged.

“Instead, it is in our view that states that are willing and have set aside land for development should cooperate with willing investors in commercially-viable, government-supported ranches or livestock production centres for commercial use.”

The VP however pointed out that some states, especially in the North, had duly gazetted grazing reserves.

According to him, a majority of these grazing reserves are degraded and without pasture or water, especially during the dry season.

He added, “There is also a clear sense which I think must be appreciated, that the Federal Government cannot dictate to states what to do with their land. This is so because the Land Use Act of 1978 puts land under the control of governors on behalf of their states.

“Also, the Supreme Court in the case of the Attorney General of Lagos State versus the Attorney General of the Federation in 2004, held that the use of land resources and permits for such use lie firmly in the hands of state governments. Even for use of federal lands in the states according to the Supreme Court, building or development control permit must be sought from the governors of the states.”

Osinbajo noted that grazing routes leading to these reserves must also be secured.

He said for the grazing reserves to be effective and operate effectively, they should be operated as ranches or livestock production centres on a commercial basis.

Osinbajo said, “The ranches will have adequate water from boreholes, salt points and pasture. The locations would serve both as forage points and centres for providing extension services to boost animal care, feeding and veterinary facilities, and even abattoirs. Because the ranches are commercial ventures, cattle owners will pay for their use.

“It is important to note that by and large, in consultation with stakeholders, all agree that where adequate provision is made on a commercial basis, there is no reason why there won’t be cooperation to use those ranches because there are both economic and social benefits for everyone, including herders.”

Osinbajo said apart from states that had gazetted grazing areas, 13 states had agreed to allocate 5,000 hectares of land for ranching or livestock production.

He also stated that decentralisation of the Nigeria Police Force and creation of state police were some of the ways to go in tackling the herdsmen and farmers’ violence in the country.

The VP said, “The first is that the nature of our security challenges is complex. Securing Nigeria’s over 923,768 square kilometres and its 180 million people requires far more men and materials than we have at the moment. It also requires a continual re-engineering of our security architecture and strategies. This has to be a dynamic process.

“For a country our size to meet the one policeman to 400 persons, the United Nations prescribed ratio, it would require nearly tripling our current police force, far more funding of the police, military and security agencies is required.

“Secondly, we cannot realistically police a country the size of  Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go.

“Thirdly, we must intensify existing collaboration with our neighbours in the Chad Basin, especially border communities, to prevent the movement of small arms, and disarming armed pastoralists and bandits who go through our borders day after day.

“Lastly, we must avoid the dangers of allowing these conflicts to become  religious or ethnic conflicts. This is the responsibility of political, religious and all other parts our leadership elite in Nigeria.”

Osinbajo dismissed the claim that President Muhammadu Buhari was indifferent to the killings by Fulani herdsmen because he is Fulani.

“Let me preface this by saying that every Nigerian is entitled to adequate security from government for their lives and livelihoods. Government may slip in that responsibility often but I must say never deliberately. Every killing demeans us as a people. Every killing undermines the authority of the state.

“This is why the suggestion sometimes that because President Buhari is Fulani, he has ignored the killings by herdsmen is both untrue and unfair. In any event, herdsmen and farmer clashes resulting in deaths have been with us for at least two decades. And I have worked with him for three years now, and I do not know of any one issue that has given him more concern or on which he has spent more time with security chiefs as this particular issue.”

In his speech, Saraki stated that the summit was convened as a matter of national urgency.

“We are here because in the face of escalating threats to the peace and security of our dear country, it becomes necessary to put heads together, share ideas and map out strategies to see us out of the current predicament,” he said.

The Senate President pointed out that what Nigeria needed was a leadership that would douse the tension in the country

He said, “What our country needs at this time is leadership that will work to douse the flames and reduce tension in the land. It is essential that we lower the barriers in our actions and rhetoric, and refrain from playing politics with a crisis situation in which Nigerians’ lives are being lost, tragically and needlessly, on a regular basis.”

Saraki recalled that the Senate on November 30, 2017, inaugurated the Ad Hoc Committee on Review of Security Infrastructure in the country as the Senate was “increasingly concerned at the spate of crises and insecurity in many parts of the country and knew that we needed to do something about it.”    (Punch)

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Defence Minister Blames Herdsmen Killings On Anti-Grazing Law, Route Blockage

Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of defence
                       Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, on Thursday described the blockage of grazing routes across the country as the remote cause of recent killings especially in Benue and Taraba states.

He also identified the implementation of anti-grazing law in some states as the immediate cause of the killings.

Dan-Ali spoke with State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the National Security Council presided over by President Muhamamdu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the recent killings formed part of discussions at the meeting and the proposed National Commission on Proliferation of Arms was one of the steps being taken by the Federal Government to tackle the violence.

The minister said, “Whatever crisis that happens at any time, there are remote and immediate causes.  Look at this issue (killings in Benue and Taraba), what is the remote cause of this farmers’ crisis? Since the nation’s independence, we know there used to be a route whereby the cattle rearers take because they are all over the nation.

“If you go to Bayelsa or Ogun, you will see them. If those routes are blocked, what do you expect will happen?  These people are Nigerians. It is just like one going to block the shoreline, does that make sense to you? These are the remote causes of the crisis. But the immediate cause is the grazing law.

“These people are Nigerians and we must learn to live together with one another. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave. Finish!”

Asked if he was justifying the killings because of the blockage of the routes, the minister said, “I have told you that the remote cause is part of the grazing law. Since independence, there are clear routes where these people pass.

“On the issue of arms, they are all over. In those killings you are talking about, there are also militias that did the killings. Some people were caught with arms and they call themselves Forest Guards or whatever with AK47.

“There is nowhere in this country where arms are allowed to be carried apart from legitimate security forces.

“So, anybody carrying any arm is doing so illegally. Militias were caught in the same land doing the same killings, so the killings are not done by any particular group, it is a communal issue.”

Asked which one should Nigerians believe between his position and the government’s earlier position that the killings were done by foreign terrorists, Dan-Ali said, “Of course, that is why I said they are militias. Militias are part of illegal immigrants. They are the people.”

The minister said the meeting also featured discussion on the stringent conditions imposed by the United States government for the sale of 12 Super Tucano A29 planes and other weapons worth $495m to Nigeria.

He said while the US government insisted that the payment must be made by February 20, it also maintained that the aircraft could only be available in 2020.

Apart from that, he said the US government had also stopped Nigerian personnel from being sent to understudy the production process of the aircraft as Nigeria did in the case of other countries.

The minister said the council had approved that the Ministry of Defence met with the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, to iron out the contentious issues.

He said, “The contract include cost which is $494m to acquire the Super Tucano A29 plans as well as training, where the facilities will be accommodated and continuous servicing among others.

“Some of the stringent measures include that we will start having them from 2020, which is two years from now. They are also thinking of not allowing our technicians to be part of the production inspection.

“But this is what we normally do in all the defence contracts: we send our personnel to go and understudy especially when it comes to specialised aircraft like in Russia, our personnel are permanently based where the production is being done for this MI35 helicopters.”  (Punch)

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