The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately remove the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, from office over his comments on the southern governors’ position on open grazing.
The Minister had earlier lambasted the decision of the Southern governors over their recent ban of open grazing in the region, saying it does not align with the provisions of the constitution.
At least 17 southern governors had met last week in Asaba, the Delta State capital, and resolved to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region as some kidnappings and killings in the southern region have been traced to criminal elements amongst herders.
The AGF, who appeared on a television program yesterday, said “an open grazing ban is the same thing as Northern governors banning spare parts trading in their own region considering the fact that Southerners comprise a majority of spare parts traders in the North.”
“It is about constitutionality within the context of the freedoms expressed in our constitution. Can you deny the rights of a Nigerian?” he had argued.
Reacting to the Attorney-General’s statement, Basiru in a statement on Thursday, described Malami’s comments as ‘not dignifying’ argument of equating open grazing with southerners selling spare parts in the North.”
The Senator said he spoke in his personal capacity as a patriot and Senator. He said, “It was not dignifying of the status of the Nation’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice to make such remarks.”
He said equating the activities of archaic nomadic herdsmen destroying people’s means of livelihood with others legitimately carrying on businesses by selling spare parts in their shops stand logic on its head.
The Senator added that the statement of the Attorney General was one capable of derailing the unity, peace, and progress of Nigeria. He, therefore, called for “the immediate removal from office of the AGF.”
He said, “Anyone who cannot rise above primordial sentiments and pursuit of parochial ethnic agenda need not occupy the position of trust especially at this time of sectional agitations”.
Basiru said, “This kind of statement has made Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations, and in fact, they ridicule the Administration of President Buhari. “These statements are not giving hope to those at the receiving end of the activities of the herdsmen.”
He noted that “perhaps, the Attorney General of the Federation forget that Nigeria is a federal system with the states government empowered to make and implement laws for the peace, order and good government of or any part of their respective state”.
Basiru said, “This power is derived from the Constitution, which with the Land Use Act, vested on the governors the management of all land within the territory of the state.”
He challenged the AGF to cite relevant sections of the constitution which allowed the herders to trespass on other people’s land and destroy the crops in the guise of freedom of movement adding that AGF’s comment is less than patriotic.
The senator observed that the quest to promote unity and prosperity of Nigeria is the utmost responsibility of government and actions of persons in authority must be seen to protect the corporate existence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This primacy of this onerous responsibility cannot be over-emphasized in the face rising tensions along ethnic/regional fault lines have damaged national unity,” he added.
The Senator also advised those who have no meaningful contributions to national discourse operating on the basis of equity and justice to keep quiet and stop rubbishing the Buhari- led APC government.