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Anti-open grazing: Why rights of Fulani herdsmen should be protected – Senator Adamu

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Senator Abdullahi Adamu
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The former governor of Nasarawa State and Senator representing Nasarawa West Senatorial district, Abdullahi Adamu said anti-open grazing law anywhere in Nigeria infringes on rights of Fulani herders.

He insisted that rights to movement is a fundamental right, hence, herders can move anywhere or associates and the law of anti-open grazing by governors across the country who owe it a duty to protect herders and any other individual would not stand the test of time.

Adamu who is noted as critics of anti-open grazing law once again bared his mind at a media parley with Nigerian Senate Press Corps on Monday in Abuja while reacting to national issues.

He expressed shock that Southern governors who swore an oath to enforcing the provisions of the Constitution are those breaching it by deliberately infringing on herders’ right of movement with their cattles.

“When I read the meeting of Southern governor’s and the issue of open grazing and how they kicked against it and threatened to make law against it. I replied them in a manner that you recalled.

“I believe as governors, as members of the executive, operating in the different tier of government, they have a Constitutional responsibility, the Constitution upon which they take an oath of office.

The lawmaker who is the Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture and Rural Development maintained that herders, like any other Nigerian has right to pursue legitimate business anywhere within the territory of Nigeria.

“One of the fundamental right there is every Nigerian, no exception. Every Nigerian has a right of free movement. Every Nigerian has a right to pursue a legitimate business. Right of association is enshrined in the Constitution. You cannot under ant pretence take away those rights.

“I don’t know under any condition which government can say, yes, we can take away this right. When they came up with this, I was wondering. First and foremost a week earlier before the meeting governors met here in Abuja and there was no such announcement like that. I was taken aback when I read about their meeting in Asaba.

“I still stand by that. The fact that one or two governors in the North have said something like that does not take away the right of herdsmen.

He said government owe it a duty to protect herdsmen, lamenting that nothing much has come from government to protect herders and their occupation of cattle rearing.

“The question here is nature has closed vacuum. You can’t build something on nothing. The duty to protect herdsmen and farmers rest squarely on the national government, State Government and the Local government administration.

“The question here is, has the government done what it is supposed to do to protect Nigerians who are in that calling, in that profession and in that trade? The answer is no and you cannot blame the person who is desperately looking for a means of livelihood.

“However, this does not excuse somebody who is pursuing his right from doing harm to somebody’s right. I must be very clear on thia. A farmer has right to farm, if you dare carry your cattle and and damage his farm crops, he has right to make claims in the Court of law. That’s the law as I understand it.

Adamu reminded the government that Fulani herders are Nigerians who don’t have access to government infrastructure and incentives, yet they are treated as outcasts, adding that they deserve to be treated the same way, businessmen in Lagos, Portharcourt, Kano and in any part of the country are treated.

“So, it doesn’t matter. If the whole Northern governors make the same pronouncement that the Southern governors did, that doesn’t shake my fundamental position on this. Government owes herdsmen a duty to protect their calling and I dare repeat that if you go to Wuse Market here, you will see how many infrastructure have been provided by the FCT and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) like water, and electricity. These are for Nigerians. These herdsmen are Nigerians.

“This government has a duty like the way it’s treating businessmen in Alaba, Onitsha, Kano, and Portharcourt to treat herdsmen too because they are Nigerians.

“These provision are public funds. They are not from the private fund of any governor or Senator. The funds are from the treasury of this country and every Nigerian has a stake in that treasury.

“So the government has a duty to find a wherewithal to make it possible for herdsmen not to go astray in the course of pursuing his legitimate duty.”

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