Herdsmen in Benue State have since taken the Benue State Government to Court over the Anti-Grazing Bill which they say violates their fundamental human right as dictated by the Constitution.
The Miyeitti Allah Kautal Hore herdsmen filed a case against the Government of Benue State for enacting the Anti-grazing Law claiming specifically that it contradicted their Freedom of Movement as encapsulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It will be recalled that the Association had few days after Governor of the State, Samuel Ortom, assented to the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Bill, threatened to drag the Government to Court.
Earlier in May, the Association had claimed that they were the irst settlers on the Benue valley and that Ecowas protocols allows the Fulani free movement on and across the country.
Speaking during a World Conference in Abuja, the National Secretary of the Association, Saleh Alhasan said that the Fulani are peaceful and welcoming people.
“We are peaceful people. What we don’t accept is for people not to welcome us and want to annihilate us. We will not accept that. We know our history. We know our root. If you see us in the bushes, don’t think we don’t have our history and particularly in the Benue. We are challenging the Tiv people. We were there in the Benue valley before them before they moved from Congo and settled in Cross River and later moved to the Benue valley. ‘The Nigerian State must recognise that the Fulani Pastoralist exists and as a socio-cultural group that has a right to the shared resources. ‘We must be allocated land to do our cattle grazing, which systematically we can settle our families, change the breed of cattle they need and improve on the technology of cattle rearing.”
The Suit filed at Federal High Court, Abuja with no FHC/ABJ/CS/527/2017 was instituted by Trustees of Miyeittii Allah Kautal Hore Socio-cultural Association, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodojo and Engineer Salleh Alhassan through their Counsel, Aliyu Ahmed and Associates.
Joined in the suit are the National Assembly, Attorney General of Federation, Inspector General of Police, Benue State House of Assembly, Benue State Government and Benue State Commissioner of Police.
Governor Ortom has said he is not perturbed by the step taken by Cattle Breeders who he said were seeking to frustrate his peace efforts through legal means, positing that the state would slog it out with the group in Court. He explained that he has followed the due process of passing the Bill, stressing that he is waiting for the Court to tell him that it is unlawful for him to initiate a Bill for the law and pass it to the National Assembly.
“Our administration believes in rule of law and we follow due process of the law in coming out with the anti-grazing law because I see it as my constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property of my people including those of the herdsmen.”
“Because the law seeks the establishment of ranches, not just for cattle but for all livestock including pigs, goats and sheep”. He said
The Anti-Grazing Bill got mixed reaction from different States. Taraba, Ekiti, and Benue States have signed it into law.