President Muhammadu Buhari has overruled Southern Governors’ resolution banning open grazing by giving approval for the return of the open grazing system practised during the 1st Republic where herdsmen used designated grazing routes to move their cattle to several parts of the country.
The President has therefore, said he had asked the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to begin the process of recovering land from persons who have converted cattle grazing routes for their personal use.
Buhari said this during an interview with Arise Television which was aired on Thursday.
The President said the grazing routes were designated in the 1st Republic when “Nigerians used to obey laws” but those routes had been converted.
Buhari was reacting to a question on the decision by 17 southern governors to ban open grazing.
The AGF had kicked against the declaration by the governors, adding that it was like northern governors banning spare part trading, a job that is synonymous with southerners.
When asked if he agreed with the AGF’s position, Buhari laughingly responded, “You want me to contradict my attorney-general?”
Explaining further, he said, “What I did was ask him to go and dig the gazette of the 1st Republic when people were obeying laws. There were cattle routes and grazing areas. Cattle routes were for when they (herdsmen) are moving upcountry, north to south or east to west, they had to go through there.
“If you allow your cattle to stray into any farm, you are arrested. The farmer is invited to submit his claims. The khadi or the judge will say pay this amount and if you can’t the cattle are sold.
And if there is any benefit, you are given and people were behaving themselves and in the grazing areas, they built dams, put windmills in some places there were even veterinary departments so that the herders are limited. Their route is known, their grazing area is known.
“But I am telling you, this rushing to the centre (sic) so I asked for the gazette to make sure that those who encroached on these cattle routes and grazing areas will be dispossessed in law and try to bring some order back into the cattle grazing.”