THE Delta State government has said that the Nigerian government is directing the Police not to implement the anti-open grazing laws in different states in the country.
Delta State Commissioner for Information Charles Aniagwu stated this when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ on Thursday.
He said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government’s failure to unify livestock management policies, by allowing states to make different laws on cattle management, could spell doom for the nation.
“What the Federal Government is doing is they are asking the states to go and pass their laws. They will ask the police not to implement. The constitution makes it clear that once a law is passed into law by the state House of Assembly, it is incumbent on the Police to implement the law, even though it is a bad law, until it is set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“What we are seeing in some of the states that have signed this law is that Police have been asked to stay aloof and the government wait to see how the states would implement it.
“When that happens, you are going to cause a crisis that is even worse than what we are running from. That is why it is very important that the president stands up and realise that this is not a question of ‘we versus them.’ It is a question of us having a country that functions and functions optimally.”
The Federal Government owns Nigeria’s Police. It deploys officers to wherever it chooses. The heads of Police officers in each state of the nation take orders from the Federal Government on critical national and security matters.
Efforts by Nigerians, including state governors, to secure the consent of the Federal Government for state Police have failed.
Speaking on the reason Delta State failed to meet the deadline set by the Southern Governors’ Forum on open grazing ban in the region, Aniagwu said Delta State did not have an exco when the governors agreed on the deadline.
He explained that the state exco was dissolved in May, and there was a partial reconstitution in July, before the full reconstitution of the excos in August.
He stressed that the state executive needed to make inputs into the bill, especially the Office of the Attorney-General, in order to make the law stand the test of time.
He further said that the state engaged relevant stakeholders in developing the bill, adding that the bill would be signed into law by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa before the end of this month.
Some states in Nigeria have decided to make laws banning open grazing following worsening feud between crop farmers and herders.
The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and cattle while displacing many people.
Amnesty International reported in 2018 that 3,600 persons had died from the conflicts.
Hundreds of others have been killed since then, and the Fulanis – a major tribe in the country who are famous for cattle rearing – have been blamed and profiled for most of the killings.
Responding to the feud in his state, Benue Governor Samuel Ortom signed the bill banning open grazing in his state into law in May 2017.
He was the first governor to do so, and the law drew the ire of pastoralists who felt they were the immediate target.
Shortly after signing the law, gunmen swooped on Benue communities in the state and killed 73 persons on January 1, 2018.
Scores of others have since been killed in the state and other parts of the country, as the crop farmers and herders conflict worsens.
Benue’s neighbour, Taraba State, also has also passed the law. Both states, located in the North, have witnessed increased herder-farmer conflict since enacting the law.
Pastoralists are in 36 states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Each of the states records conflicts between farmers and herders.
As of August 30, seven states have signed the anti-open grazing bill into law in 17 states in the South.
The states that have passed the bill into law at the time of this publication were Ebonyi, Abia, Bayelsa, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo states.
Ogun and Osun states governors were yet to sign the bill, though it was ready; while Delta, Lagos, Enugu and Akwa-Ibom states are working on it.