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Southern, middle-belt leaders threaten mass actions against open grazing

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The leaders of Southern Nigeria and Middle-Belt, under the auspices of the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-determination (NINAS), have threatened to ground activities in any southern state that the Governor approves land to Federal Government for open grazing reserves.

NINAS further warned that any state governor that accepts and approve grazing reserve, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, should prepared for a never-seen-before mass action in the state.

The group further stated that approving a grazing route would amount to assisting the north in permanently hijacking the assets of the indigenous people of the Southern region of Nigeria.

NINAS is the coordinating platform for the umbrella bodies of self-determination groups in the South and Middle Belt of Nigeria with Ilana Omo Oodua (IOO) representing the South West, Lower Niger Congress (LNC) representing the South-South and South East, and Middle Belt Renaissance Movement (MBRM) representing the Middle Belt Region.

The group, in a statement yesterday signed by its Chairman, Prof. Banji Akintoye, and made available to newsmen by his Communications Manager, Maxwell Adeleye, urged the governors and other leaders of the region to reject the move, describing it as a gross attempt to use the wealth of the south to feed the north.

“We assure our people that we shall fight to recover our assets back within the ambits of both the local and international laws as clearly stated in the Constitutional Force Majeure proclaimed on December 16, 2020 with a call to an UN-supervised Referendum by the ethnic blocs.

“We also urge Governors within the NINAS territory to respect the wishes of their people on the issue of the grazing reserve being planned by the central government for Fulani Herdsmen.

“For the avoidance of doubt, under the Land Use Act of 1978, all lands in Nigeria vest in State Governors who hold same in Trust for the People. With the possible exception of the Federal Capital Territory, the Federal Government of Nigeria does not own any land upon which it can establish grazing routes.

“It follows that any Governor in the Alliance Territories who cedes any land to the Federal Government in the name of Grazing Route will be doing so in breach of the Trust in which such lands are held and worse still, in defiance of the overwhelming Will of the People.

“We say with all sense of modesty and responsibility that the grazing route is an attempt towards grabbing our ancestral land through the back door which must be rejected by all means necessary.

“This is not a threat, but a piece of advice – any Governor who cedes our land to the central government for Fulani Herdsmen’s grazing reserve should be ready to face the wrath of the people.

“Such a Governor should be ready to answer to their people on why the rights of the people are being trampled upon and their land allowed to be invaded by a group that has demonstrated that all they are there to do is kill and take over their ancestral lands.

“Such a governor should know that while the NINAS movement for self-determination is peaceful, this continued pandering to killers, most of whom are being brought in from outside of Nigeria, ceding an inch of their ancestral lands will result in such mass peaceful action that may rumble his state to the foundation”, the statement, said.

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