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Anti-Grazing Law Enforcement Right by states affirmed by Abuja Court

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The right of Nigerian states to implement anti-grazing laws in their domains has been affirmed by the ABUJA court on Thursday.

The aspect of Thursday’s judgment affirming the power of state governments to enforce the anti-open grazing law in their states comes as impetus for the implementation of such a statute where they are already in place and an inspiration for others to seek to have it.

This position weakens that of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who had said such a ban is unconstitutional and infringes on the rights of movement enshrined in the nation’s laws.

The court indicated this when it rejected a suit seeking to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to enforce the Benue Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranching Law of 2017.

In her judgment delivered during virtual proceedings, the judge, Ijeoma Ojukwu, held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.The judge, in the judgement, also said the enforcement of the anti-grazing law having been validly passed by the Benue House of Assembly, for instance, “lies with the state government”.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the judge, in dismissing the suit, said the matter is not justiciable, implying that it is not a matter that a court of law can adjudicate on.‘It’s matter of misconduct not triable by court’For her, the matter of the enforcement of the law borders on the issue of non-compliance with the oath of office and misconduct which the National Assembly is empowered to deal with.“In my view, the courts do not have the jurisdiction to entertain any suit bordering on compliance with the oath of office of the president for the reason that it is not justiciable.“When the person, in this regard, the president, fails to abide by the oath, the National Assembly, in line with the set down procedures, may consider it a misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office and take the appropriate measures under the constitution,” the judge ruled.The suitThe suit was instituted by Mathew Nyiutsa against the President on the grounds that the President, by his oath of office, incurred a mandatory obligation to uphold and preserve the laws of the land.He, however, said that the president failed to abide by his oath of office when he refused to implement the Benue Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranching Law.

Anti-open grazing controversy

Judgment comes amid raging controversy over the recent resolution of southern governors prohibiting open grazing in their states, with AGF Malami, saying such ban would infringe on constitutional right to freedom of movement of the herders.

Speaking for the southern governors, however, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State dismissed the AGF’s comment, insisting that the decision banning open grazing in their states was irreversible.

Aside from Benue State, there are other states particularly in the southern part of the country that have put the anti-open grazing law in place to check rampant kidnappings and killings associated with some criminal herders in their domains.