The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday, slammed Southern governors for banning open grazing in the region.
According to the AGF, 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.
Malami spoke while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme monitored by The PUNCH.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that about 17 southern governors met on 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 governors called for the restructuring of the country along fiscal federalism, devolution of powers and state policing. They also called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to address the nation and convoke a national dialogue to address widespread agitations amongst various groups in the region.
But the governors’ resolution also known as the Asaba Accord has raised dust, especially in Northern Nigeria, with many critics including Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello; and Senators Ali Ndume from Borno South Senatorial District, amongst others.
Speaking also on the ban on Wednesday, Malami described it as an illegality.
He said, “It is about constitutionality. Within the context of the freedoms enshrined in our constitution, can you deny a right of a Nigerian? It is as good as saying may be the Northern governors coming together to say that they prohibit spare parts trading in the North. Does it hold water? Does it hold water for a Northern governor to come and state expressly that he now prohibits spare parts trading in the North?”
Continuing, the minister said, “If you are talking of a constitutionally guaranteed right, the better approach to it is perhaps to go back and ensure that the constitution is amended. The freedom and liberty of movement, amongst others is established by the constitution.
“If by an inch, you want to have any compromise, the better approach is to go back to the National Assembly for open grazing to be prohibited and see whether you can have the desired support for the constitutional amendment in that respect but it is a very dangerous position for any governor in Nigeria to think that he can bring about any compromise on the freedom and liberty of individuals to move around.”