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Herdsmen killings: Nigerians reject Cattle Colony

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herdmen

●Buhari in dilemma over Executive Order

 

In reaction to the Federal Government’s attempt to create cattle colonies across the country, some Nigerians have rejected the move, calling it an attempt to bring back the failed Grazing Reserve through the backdoor. The Muhammadu Buhari administration had proposed the Grazing Reserve to forestall the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers, through a bill, which failed to sail through at the National Assembly.

The federal lawmakers had thrown out the bill after public outcry against it, as some Nigerians argue that it was an attempt to hijack people’s land for the herdsmen. Nonetheless, the Federal Government re-strategised and changed the idea from Grazing Reserve to Cattle Colony, a move insiders say would be done by fiat through an Executive Order.

A credible source within the corridors of power had confided in Saturday Telegraph that rather than obtain a parliamentary approval, the new model could be achieved without any recourse to the National Assembly. The source further informed that the proposal would have some state governors hijacking land from communities and transferring same to the Federal Government in the overriding public interest.

“The Cattle Colony is not different from the Grazing Reserve, it is the same thing. The bill earlier proposed was to take it through the normal democratic channels, but this time, it is going to be via an Executive Order. “Have you gone through the Land Use Act? It is going to be the channel of operation.

Under the act, state governments can forcefully take over any parcel of land in their domain in public interest. “Once the president signs it as an Executive Order, it becomes a law and the committee in charge would be able to implement it.

But the good news is that we don’t have to take over any land because about 16 states have donated land voluntarily. “When we proposed it under the Grazing Reserve, some states gave us land donated by their local communities, but the House of Representatives kicked against the idea. That was why we could not achieve it through the Grazing Reserve Bill”, he said.

Buhari in dilemma

However, the President is said to be in a dilemma over the issue now, as it has become a public knowledge after a minister reportedly let the cat out of the bag during the week. The minister, who was trying to clarify an earlier statement by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, was quoted as saying that there was no difference between the two proposals. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had said that the policy would not transfer communal land ownership to herdsmen wherever it was established.

Ogbeh, who was reacting to fears by some citizens that the policy was an attempt by the Federal Government to forcibly collect land from citizens and hand them over to herdsmen, noted that there was no truth in speculations that the government was conspiring to grant supremacy over communal land to herdsmen.

The minister also commended the Plateau State Government for its interests in developing agriculture. “Cattle Colony is not using herdsmen to colonise any state. It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that will like to volunteer land for it. The Federal Government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees.

“While ranching is more of an individual venture for the herdsmen and those wishing to invest in the livestock sector, cattle colonies is a larger project where up to 40 ranchers can share same facility that will be provided by the government at a reduced rate. Already, 16 states have volunteered land,’’ he said. Findings by Saturday Telegraph confirmed that the President, who was earlier billed to sign the Executive Order next week, is now being careful owing to the mood of the nation after the murderous invasion of Benue State by the herdsmen.

Lawyers, lawmakers kick

In reactions, some Nigerians, including lawmakers and lawyers spoke with our correspondents on the matter. The Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (upstream), Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah (APC, Benue) said the proposal to establish cattle colonies is archaic and alien to the people of Benue and any modern society. Gbillah, who represents Gwer West/Gwer East Federal Constituency of Benue told Saturday Telegraph that the concept of cattle colonies is a strange one and is totally unacceptable to the people of Benue.

“The concept of cattle colony is alien to us and it is obsolete. Are we going to reinvent the wheel of time? It is unbelievable that at a time when globally everybody is talking about ranching, Nigerian government is proposing cattle colonies.

“The whole of Benue rejects the cattle colonies wholeheartedly because it is a strange proposal to us. Are we going to have a colony for yam farmers, colony for piggery farmers? Speaking further, Gbillah advised that the government should realise that cattle rearing is not an exclusive reserve of a particular tribe or ethnic group so, the federal government should not come up with policies to favour a particular tribe and inconvenience others. “The government should realize that cattle’s rearing is not only for Fulanis.

In fact, the Benue State governor also rears cattle and indeed has more cows than most Fulani men but he has ranched them”. On the allegations that the government wants to introduce cattle colonies through an Executive Order, the lawmaker said the National Assembly will confront the executive frontally to ensure that it does not implement such a policy. According to him, “doing so through an Executive Order means introducing it through the back door. So, if it is a good policy why do so through the back door? That is where the National Assembly will also rise against it.

This proposal is ill advised and it cannot be forced down the throat of anybody “But if the government does that, it will give credence to the allegations that he is the grand patron of Miyetti Allah and is therefore backing the criminal and nefarious activities of his kinsmen,” Gbillah stated. Also reacting, President of Public Interest Lawyers League PILL, Dr. Abdul Mahmud said the proposal is dead on arrival. “Executive orders are what they are, policy directives not backed by any legislative or legal force or instrument, not founded within the precinct of the Land Use Act (LUA). So I don’t see how such can work.

“The Federal Government has no land recognised by the LUA, except those which devolved into it by Colonial Ordinance. The President cannot usurp the powers of governors as they relate to land ownership and use, preserved by the LUA. “The Land Use Act committed the land in trust to the state governor and not the Federal Government.

It therefore goes to say that the Federal Government cannot over-reach its power as constituted by the constitution”. Also reacting, another lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, noted that the proposal is logically a sham and that it can’t stand.

“It’s not only politically unsound, it is legally and morally an overshot. The president needs to be reminded that by the effect of the provisions of the Land Use Act, he has no jurisdiction over any land in Nigeria except in Federal Capital Territory, the right, which is exercise by the FCT Minister.

“As it is, any matter on land ownership resides in respective 36 governors. One salient issue stands out from the proposal; If farmers are made to buy land, or possess them through some non-free manner it is only right to make normads buy/own ranches or keep away completely from already owned territories.

“That is just the only way out. Make any one who needs a land for grazing buy at the economic value of such time and not that the state government will be compelled to release their land for grazing”. Another Abuja based lawyer and rights activist, Ben Ugorji, said the proposal has no basis under the law as the Federal Government lacks power to make use of or compel the use of any land in any state for purpose that does not have anything to do with the benefits of the masses. According to law, the only instance where the Federal Government is given an exception is where such land is to be used for building of school, hospital or any other facility that will benefit the citizens.

“But in this case, cattle colony has no benefits it will vest on the citizens, rather it is targeted to benefit few Fulanis of which the President is included. This purpose is not covered in the exception. Therefore, the President and the Federal Government cannot bring it under an Executive Order.

“The proposal can be tested in court. Under the Land Use Act, only the state governors are vested with power to own land in trust and not the president. One now wonders where the President derives his power from to propose Cattle Colony. The Attorney General of the Federation should advise the President appropriately. Cattle colony is a breach on people’s right”.

Reps will resist it –Hon. Edwin

A member of the House of Representa-tives, Anayo Edwin, has said that the attempt to establish the proposed colony through Executive Order would be vehemently resisted by the lower chambers. Edwin also said that many of members of the National Assembly would rise against it because it would be tantamount to be usurping of the powers of the parliament by the President.

He argued that, for the Cattle Colony to be established in the country, it must pass through legislative process, pointing out that the President does not have the constitutional power to take over people’s lands and allocate such for cattle rearing.

The politician noted that cattle rearing are a private business, and therefore, should not attract government’s attention in that magnitude, warning that government should trade with caution to avoid plunging the nation into uncontrollable crisis.

He said that he was totally against the proposal and would mobilise other members of the National Assembly to persuade the President to drop the idea of using executive fiat to establish cattle colony in other people’s lands.

“The security situation in the country is a very bad one. We will resist the proposal by Buhari to establish cattle colonies across the country by Executive Order because that will be unconstitutional. “If he wants such to be done, a bill to that effect must be submitted to the National Assembly for appropriate legislative consideration. And don’t forget that the bill was already introduced but thrown out by the Senate because majority of Nigerians don’t believe that such should happen. When we resume on Tuesday, we are going to fight against it.

“The security situation in this country now is very terrible and worrisome. Unfortunately, for all these killings across the country by herdsmen, nobody is being held culpable. This is a clear indication that the APC has failed woefully as a government,” he said.

Herdsmen attacks, national challenge -Ortom

Governor Samuel Ortom has said attacks by herdsmen are a national challenge that requires the cooperation of all Nigerians to surmount. He spoke in Makurdi when he received a delegation from the Arewa Consultative Forum led by Senator John Shagaya. Ortom prayed that other states will not experience a situation in where more than 73 people lost their lives to the herdsmen attacks at the beginning of the year alone. According to him, several states including Zamfara, Adamawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ogun, Abia, and Niger have suffered attacks, which indicates that the problem transcended individual states.

He stated that the photograph he saw of Buhari at his ranch in Daura recently had given Nigerians the direction that ranching was the way to go in animal husbandry, noting that as a disciplined person, the President knows what is good for the country.

Ortom said he had forgiven all those whose actions and words had caused pains to people of the state including his Plateau State counterpart, Simon Lalong, who is quoted to have made some uncomplimentary comments about the Benue killings.

He expressed appreciation to the president for making frantic efforts to end the attacks including the relocation of the Inspector General of Police to the state and directing the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to provide relieve materials for distribution to affected communities.

The governor reiterated his position that he had withdrawn from political activities to concentrate on finding a solution to the crisis and advised those politicising the issue to desist forthwith as it would rather aggravate the situation.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Senator Shagaya who said they were in the state to mourn with the government and the people over the killings, urged the governor to continue with his constructive engagement with the federal government, his colleagues and security agencies to find a lasting solution to the challenge. Shagaya condemned the killings while commending Governor Ortom for maintaining calm, law and order despite the callous act, describing those that carried out the attacks as enemies of the state and agents of disunity.

‘We are sorry for Lalong’s statement’

A group operating under the aegis of Plateau Regeneration group (PRG) has apologised to Ortom and Benue citizens over the statement credited to Lalong. The group at a press conference, said Lalong was misquoted that he warned Ortom. According to the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chol Bandung Chuhwak, “Lalong never said he warned Ortom as misquoted, but he only said he adviced Ortom. We however want to state our total and unalloyed support to alternative to open grazing which is ranching, in this regard we stand with Lalong in carefully analyzing alternative options before implementing any policy that would put end to clashes in our dear state.

“We also wish to use this opportunity to clear the air on our governor’s interview, where he was quoted out of context. Our findings revealed that what Lalong actually meant was that implementing a policy like ban on open grazing without alternative measures would be counter productive.

” The group described Lalong as a man determined to restore law and order on the Plateau and who deserves the support of all. “We also stand by our governor that ranching remains the best option to end clashes between herders and farmers, and call on all to explore the benefits in the ranching and cattle colonies proposed by the Federal Government as an alternative to open grazing, which will certainly be banned as part of the solution to the incessant farmers and herdsmen conflicts all around the country.

Lalong: I’m disappointed

Governor Lalong has however expressed displeasure at the manner in which reports about him were making the rounds on social media. Lalong in a press statement signed by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Samuel Emmanuel Nanle, clarified his statement, saying it is sad that his expression, which centered on the Plateau situation, was taken out of context and completely misquoted.

The statement added that the governor in a show of solidarity and shared grief with the people of Benue and indeed all Nigerians expressed his deepest sympathy in a phone conversation with Ortom. He prayed for the people of Plateau State for God’s comfort on the bereaved families, and for the repose of the souls of all those killed in the wake of the attack. He advised all to explore the benefits in the ranching and cattle colonies proposed by the Federal Government as an alternative to open grazing, which will certainly be banned as part of the solution to the incessant farmers and herdsmen conflict all around the country.

Anambra on alert

Security agencies in Anambra State have been told to ensure that cattle herders operating in any community in the state do not carry dangerous weapons that may lead to shedding of blood. The call followed the warning by the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, that any herdsmen caught wielding any form of deadly weapon would be prosecuted. Speaking on the issue in Awka, a legal practitioner, Mr. John Okoli-Akirika said that the alertness of the security agencies in the state would help to check the excesses of the cattle breeders and sustain prevailing peace in the State.

Okoli-Akirika who observed that the issue of security of lives and property ranks first in government’s policies, programmes and activities, noted that Governor Obiano’s stand against any form of insecurity and threat to peace is a demonstration of his responsiveness to the welfare of the people.

He called on other governors to emulate Obiano’s proactive measures and priority approach so as to be able to tackle the challenge of herdsmen across the country. He said: “The agreement initiated by the governor between farmers and herdsmen provides effective platform for the maintenance of law and order as well as promotion of a peaceful co-existence by bringing all parties to a round table dialogue so that no party takes the law into its hands.”

Abia rejects Cattle Colony

The Government of Abia State has said that the state would not be ceding any part of the 17 local government areas for the establishment of ‘cattle colonies’ for the purpose of rearing cattle or grazing by Fulani herdsmen. A release signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, states that Abia State would not cede any part of her territory to Fulani herdsman as colony for cattle. According to Gov. Ikpeazu, the available land in the state would not be enough to accommodate the agricultural plans of the state government, stressing that the available land would not be enough for the agrarian communities in the state to effectively carry out their agricultural activities.

The governor maintained that leasing out the land might cause unrest in the state beyond what his government could handle. “We reject any plan to establish cattle colonies for herdsmen in Abia State. We don’t have enough land for our agricultural activities and our people want more land. Giving away any part of Abia land as a colony to herdsmen, wherever they may be from, will be a most unjust and unfair treatment to Abia State and her people who are largely farmers.

“Such alien land occupation will also cause unrest and crisis that may grow beyond what we can handle when it happens, so the best thing I think we should do is to reject such plans so that those behind it will know that Abia State is not a party to it.”

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SIFAX buys N1bn trucks for haulage to improve cargo delivery

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The SIFAX Haulage and Logistics Limited, a subsidiary of SIFAX Group, has taken delivery of 20 new 420 horsepower European trucks for its haulage operations in Nigeria. The company said in Lagos that the new vehicles were acquired to complement the 55 trucks already in use.

The Group Managing Director, SIFAX Group, Mr. John Jenkins explained that with the commissioning of the new trucks, the company now lives up to the standard it was known for worldwide. He added that the company’s business acumen was geared towards constantly meeting customer needs and adding value to all its businesses.

Jenkins stressed that the company was committed to constantly strengthening the logistics value chain of the maritime sector of which haulage is an important value. Also, its General Manager, Mr. Adewale Adetayo, during the inauguration of the vehicles explained that 10 of them were ‘6 by 4’ double axles, while the others 10 were triaxle flatbeds with 48 tonnage capacity.

He noted that the acquisition of the trucks was brought the company’s fleet size to 75. Adetayo stated that the company’s decision to expand its fleet was a statement of intent by SIFAX Group to deliver a better service to its clients and become an undisputed leader in the industry.

He said: “The acquisition of these new trucks is a clear demonstration of the unfettered commitment of the management of SIFAX Group to the strategic goal of repositioning the company for greater productivity.

“This commitment is part of the company-wide strategy of strengthening all the subsidiaries with the requisite capacity and capabilities to deliver on the corporate objective of delivering best value in all sectors we operate.” Adetayo stressed that the company’s haulage team were well prepared and equipped with various technical trainings to usher in the operations of these new trucks in addition to ones we have at hand.

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Osifeso lauds Awori Diocese on socio-economic development

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A fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Surveyors (NIS) and chairman of Macpotec Nigeria Limited, Dr. Segun Osifeso, has applauded Bishop of the Diocese of Awori (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. Johnson Akin-Atere, on the contributions of the Diocese to the socio-economic development of Ota in and Ogun State since its inauguration 10 years ago.

Osifeso, who made this remark during the dedication of the Diocesan multimillion naira office complex at Ota recently, also praised the Diocese for its leadership role in laying a solid foundation for the growth and expansion of Christianity in Aworiland and Nigeria in general.

He noted with delight the impact that the completion of the office complex, boasting a secretariat, 12- lock–up shops, Diocesan cemetry, women centre as well as ownership of acres of land and other landed properties across the town are having on the socio-economic standing of the area.

While showering encomiums on Rt. Revd. Atere for his leadership qualities, sense of vision and innovation in piloting the affairs of the Diocese, the NIS fellow reminded members of the important role Ota played in the growth of Christianity in Nigeria and advised that all hands must be on deck to ensure the Diocese remained a force to reckon with.

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Ambode’s wife presents quintuplets with cash gift, others

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Wife of the governor of, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, has volunteered a monthly allowance of N500, 000 for the next twelve months, for the care of quintuplets born to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Augustine Obiefuna of Orile Iganmu, a suburb of the state.

This is contained in a statement from the Assistant Director, Public Affairs at the Office of the Wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Folashade Kadiri. Quintuplets are five babies born from one pregnancy.

Other welfare arrangements by Mrs Ambode for the newborns include the supply of diapers for one year and the supply of baby milk and other essentials for one year.

All these in addition to two bus-loads of baby essentials like beds, mattresses, diapers, boxes of clothes, socks, pants, caps, etc, that accompanied her on a visit to the infants at the Lagos Island Maternity.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode also gave an undisclosed sum of money, for the care of the babies; three boys and two girls, who weighed between 1.5kg and 2kg respectively.

Speaking at the maternity ward, the governor’s wife who was visibly elated and beemming with smiles, thanked God for the safe delivery of the infants and commended their mother, for regularly attending her ante-natal sessions in  the government hospital.

She urged expectant mothers in the state to shun quacks and self-medication, but to register early and diligently attend ante-natal clinics in government hospitals, for standard medical care.

According to her, ‘”You can all see why it is good to register in a government hospital where standard medical care is guaranteed. This woman registered early and regularly attended her ante-natal clinics. The result is that all five babies were safely delivered to the glory of God.”

She commended the entire medical team, especially the consultant, Dr. Ogungbemile Babalola, for their professional service, stressing that the government would always prioritize health care service for expectant mothers, to eradicate maternal and infant mortality in the state.

Mrs. Ambode who later inspected the maternity ward, promised further donations to the hospital, to strengthen maternal and infant service delivery in the hospital.

Father of the babies, Mr. Augustine Obiefuna, copiously thanked the governor and his wife, for their rare benevolence and generosity, which according to him transcended ethnic and tribal considerations.

He said, ‘We are surprised that despite being non indigenes of the state, the governor and his wife could show us so much love and kindness. They are just wonderful. We never imagined that Her Excellency could personally come here to see our new babies. We cannot stop praying for them and their children, for God’s favour, protection and wisdom at all times. Babies Obiefunas are the first set of quintuplets delivered in Lagos State this year.

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