The League of Professionals for Strategic Advocacy has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of enabling the persistent attacks and killing perpetrated by Fulani cattle herders in parts of the country.
The group said the president’s directive to Federal Attorney General, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to restore grazing routes in a 1960s gazette was calculated to encourage the herders to disobey the ban on open grazing announced by governors of 17 southern states.
“After reviewing the interview President Muhammadu Buhari granted Arise TV and broadcast on June 10, 2021, the League of Professionals for Strategic Advocacy has come to the conclusion that the president is unequivocally committed to enabling the streak of attacks on peaceful farmers and farming communities by Fulani cattle herders”, the group stated in a press release issued in Asaba.
Signed by Prince Obaro Unuafe, its convener, Pius Mordi, its chairman and Fred Akpewe, secretary, it noted that “At a time that all stakeholders in the Nigerian project, especially Northern Governors and the Arewa Consultative Forum had welcomed the decision by Southern Governors to ban open grazing of cattle, the President chose to torpedo what was supposed to be an enduring resolution of the herders’ attacks.”
The group said: “in the said interview, President Buhari vainly sought to describe the killer herders as foreigners, while their local counterparts wield only sticks and machetes. With no action taken by him to arrest the so-called foreign killer-herders despite the hundreds of lives lost in the attacks many communities displaced, he ‘assured that we are trying to resuscitate these cattle routes, grazing areas and make them accountable.’
“Apparently taking a cue from their mentor and Nigeria’s president, elements of the killer Fulani cattle herders a few days ago threatened to unleash their killers on Delta State with Asaba and Agbor as their start off points if Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, governor of the state, does not withdraw his support for the ban on open grazing within 72 hours.
“Their targeting Dr. Okowa and Delta State is a direct reference to the fact that the governor hosted his 16 southern colleagues at the May 11, 2021 meeting in Asaba where crucial decisions were taken to stabilise the country.
President Buhari who had earlier derided the 17 southern governors through his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for proposing measures to protect their people, said he has directed Malami to unearth a so-called gazette that reserved grazing routes across Nigeria.”
The group said the president’s statement and timing was designed to frustrate the implementation of the ban and encourage the killer herders in their murderous campaign.
“We urge all Nigerians, especially those in the southern part of the country, to be mindful of the fact that we are contending with a leadership that is largely suspect in its claim to fight the attacks by Fulani militants. It is imperative that all the southern states that are yet to give legal teeth to the ban on open grazing should expedite the process of getting their state Houses of Assembly to pass the bill,” the group declared.
They accused Abubakar Malami of shirking his duty of guiding Buhari on the path of respecting the constitution. “He has proven not to be a federal attorney general, but President Buhari’s attorney general. He has subverted his sacred duty to defend the constitution and guide the president to tread on lawful path. “With the Land Use Act the prime legislation on land administration, it is amazing how Malami could counsel Buhari into thinking that a gazette made in the 1960s at a time the regions had total power on lands would become applicable nationally.”
Calling the renewed bid by Buhari a constitutional gamble, they cautioned Buhari against being preoccupied with grabbing land for allocation to herders illegally.
“We believe that what Buhari and his band of constitutional gamblers are up to is to forcefully but unlawfully grab people’s lands and hand them over to Fulani herders. This much is clear as Buhari has been fixated on land expropriation all through his presidency. He is unveiling all types of subterfuge – Ruga, cattle colony, water bill, grazing reserves, etc – to grab the lands of farmers.
“We hereby urge President Buhari to see himself as president of Nigeria and concentrate on pursuing policies that will put the country to the path of growth. He has distracted Nigerians enough through his obsession with enabling Fulani cattle herders to destroy farmlands and appropriate other people’s lands.”