The Senate has criticized the Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (retd.), over his call that laws enacted by states prohibiting open grazing be suspended.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly asked the minister to withdraw his statement.
Raising a point of order, Senator Barnabas Gemade (Benue North-East) faulted Dan-Ali’s statement as untrue, urging the Senate to ask the minister to withdraw the statement.
He also stated that the states were empowered by the Land Use Act to take ownership and management of land resources.
The anti-open grazing law is currently operational in Benue, Ekiti and Taraba States.
In Ekiti, the law prohibits open-grazing between 6pm and 7am. In Benue, it places an absolute ban on open-grazing across the state. While the law took effect in July 2017 in Taraba, there was a caveat that it would be implemented gradually after aggressive awareness campaigns across the state.
The lawmakers unanimously granted Gemade’s prayer to “ask the Minister of Defence to withdraw his statement on his call for the withdrawal of the anti-grazing laws in Benue and Taraba as these laws were properly enacted in accordance with the states’ Houses of Assembly.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday met behind closed doors with Nigeria’s security chiefs.
Dan- Ali, in a statement issued by his Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau, at the end of the meeting, had suggested the suspension of the implementation of anti-grazing laws in some states while negotiating safe routes for herders.
The Defence Minister argued that the suspension of the law “would reduce tension.”
Reacting to Dan-Ali’s statement, Gemade said, “This is not the first time that we will hear this kind of absurd statements coming from no less a personality than the Minister of Defence, if a Minister of Defence is calling for anarchy, where else can we find peace?
“We understand that the minister comes from Zamfara State and I wonder if all the killings in Zamfara that are almost equal in number with the ones in Benue, are also as a result of the anti-open grazing law. And if by his own experience the killings in Zamfara have nothing to do with the anti-open grazing law, why does he believe that the killings in Benue and Taraba are because they enacted the laws?
“These killings have been on for seven years before the laws came into operation. So, what was responsible for the killings at that time? And now the killings in Zamfara have not ceased, yet they have not made a law prohibiting open grazing. We think that this Republic is probably being misadvised by those who have been given appointments to take responsibility for the good governance of this nation. Therefore, they must be called to order.”
Gemade added, “While we are looking up to the government for protection, and indeed looking up to the security agencies for protection, we get so dismayed by the attitude of those who lead these security forces.