By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—THE law for the establishment of Edo State Control on Nomadic Cattle Rearing/Grazing Agency, which public hearing comes up, today, at the state House of Assembly has received knocks from the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
PDP and CAN called on the state House of Assembly to throw out the bill as its contents portend grave danger to the present and future generations of Edo State people whose communal and ancestral lands would be transferred and given to a favoured ethnic group in the country.
Edo State chapter of the PDP called on the state House of Assembly not to pass the bill, saying that if passed, “It will forcibly acquire communal lands in the 18 local government areas of the state for exclusive use of the Fulani herdsmen that were already beheading and raping women in various communities in the state.”
State chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, said: “Those behind the bill in their desperate efforts to please their financial benefactors have ignored the known feelings of the vast majority of our people who are vehemently opposed to the bill.
“By this action, the Godwin Obaseki All Progressives Congress, APC government has shown that they do not see anything wrong in the unacceptable cattle herdsmen’s unwarranted onslaught laced with deceptive political irredentism.”
CAN, in a statement, yesterday in Benin by its state Chairman, Bishop Oriname Kure, while voicing its objection to the bill, said that the proposed agency was an anomaly as nomadic cattle rearing was not part of the culture and tradition of Edo people and the state.
According to CAN, “Section 42 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, is to the effect that a citizen of Nigeria or any ethnic group or community, shall not be accorded either expressly or otherwise, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to other citizens, groups or communities.
“CAN believes that the grazing bill before the Edo State House of Assembly is seeking to confer an unfair advantage on a particular section and ethnic group in Nigeria to the disadvantage of the indigenes of Edo State, whose indigenous and ancestral lands that have been transferred from generation to generation will be taken awayfrom them and given to that preferred ethnic group.”
“Setting up a State Agency to cater for a particular section of the country by depriving indigenous communities of their choice ancestral home lands and acquiring same for a preferred ethnic group in the country is contrary to the provisions of Section 26 of the Land Use Act, which is to the effect that any transaction or any instrument which purports to confer on, or vest in any person any interest or right over land other than in accordance with the provisions of the Land Use Act is null and void.
“Section 6 (1) (b) of the Land Use Act empowers only the local government to grant customary right of occupancy to any person or organization for the use of land for grazing purposes, and such other purposes ancillary to agricultural purpose as may customary in the local government area concerned.
“From the provisions of this law, it is evident that it wrong for the Edo State Government to give indigenous ancestral communal lands owned by communities to a preferred or favoured section of the country as nomadic cattle grazing is not customary among Edo people.”
The Christian umbrella body queried Section 4 (7) (d) and (e) of the bill which provides that the Advisory Board to be created by the bill that will identify areas of expertise as it applied to specific nomadic problems and offered technical advice to the governor, saying the term “nomadic” in the section was not coterminous with the way of Edo people.
CAN also described Section 18 of the as most oppressive and inhibiting provision as it provides that before any suit is commenced against the Agency and its officials, one month ‘s notice in writing must be served on it by the intending plaintiff or his agent and the notice shall state the cause of action, the name and place of abode of the intending plaintiff and the relief (s) sought.
It stated that was unfair and unjust for aggrieved citizens to give any notice when they were hurt or feel wronged, insisting that it was against universally accepted and enshrined principles of equity, fair hearing and natural justice as it makes the agency both accuser and judge and shut out the citizens from getting justice.