•Says denial of the bill is deceitful, diversionary
•Lists 3 pending versions
•Ohaneze prevented from public presentation of position
ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), have raised alarm over public statements credited to some serving Senators in Nigeria to the effect that the National Grazing Reserve Bill is not before the Upper Chamber or Senate of the National Assembly (NASS).
The group in a statement signed on Wednesday by the board chairman, Intersociety, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, and head, civil liberties & rule of law programme, Ms. Obianuju Joy Igboeli, described the statements credited to some of the legislators and particularly, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu during his recent outing in Enugu, as “deceitful, diversionary, distractive and misleading”.
They noted that the implication of such statements is that there is nothing like “the National Grazing Reserve Bill 2008 and 2016” before the National Assembly of Nigeria; whether passive or active; or that the Bill is nonexistent.
Part of the statement read: “We had in our recent position paper sent to the National Assembly through the Senate President and the House Speaker, dated 26th of April 2016, disclosed as follows: “two Bills concerning the above subject matter, originally drawn from the National Grazing Reserve (Establishment & Development) Bill 2008, introduced and sponsored by Senator Zainab Kure of Niger South Senatorial District of Niger State in the 6th National Assembly (2007-2011); are presently before the House of Reps.
“The two Bills are aimed at creating grazing reserves, ranches and cattle reserves across the 36 states to be funded with public funds through the establishment of a National Grazing Reserve Commission, an agency to be placed under the direct control of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also the national patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).”
“We further disclosed that ‘one of the two grazing reserve Bills under reference was published in the official National Assembly Gazette of February 1, 2016 and the other was published in the March 16, 2016 edition of the National Assembly Journal. The two Bills contain details of the proposed law. The first Bill with number HB.16.02.388 is titled: ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the National Grazing Route and Reserve Commission, to establish and control Grazing Routes and Reserves in all parts of Nigeria and other incidental matters thereto…’ It is sponsored by Honourable Sunday Karimi from Kogi State while the second Bill, published on March 16, 2016 and titled: “A Bill for an Act to Establish Grazing Reserve in each State of the Federation of Nigeria to improve Agriculture yield from livestock farming and curb incessant conflicts between Cattle farmers and crop farmers in Nigeria and for Related Matters,” is marked HB.16.03.448 and sponsored by Hon Sadiq Ibrahim of Fafure/Song Federal Constituency in Adamawa State. The Bill is contained in pages 931 to 941 of the National Assembly Journal, Volume 13.
“The two Bills are being consolidated, having passed the Second Reading at the House of Reps (source: Nigerian Tribune Newspaper, April 20, 2016). The two Bills are mostly a replication or repetition of the first National Grazing Reserve Commission Bill of 2008, sponsored by Senator Zainab Kure. The following link contains the original National Grazing Reserve Bill of 2008 under reference: http://nass.gov.ng/document/download/147”.
To this end, the group called on all Nigerians and members of the international community to refuse to be distracted or have their minds diverted.
Strictly and factually speaking, they noted, the controversial, genocidal and ethnic war drumming “National Grazing Reserve Bill 2016” is passively originated from the Senate of 2007-2011 session and actively laid, presently, before the House of Reps section of the 8th National Assembly of Nigeria.
The CSOs claimed that bill was already on its way from Committee stage to the Third Reading/Debate session, warning that “attempts by the powers that be to manipulate and suppress the rising public opinion against the obnoxious Bill; by denying the pendency of same, must be resisted with utter vehemence by all and sundry”.
The group restated their strong opposition to the Bill and insisted that some religious fundamentalists have hijacked the federal establishments in Nigeria and vowed to Islamise the country through a combination of violent and political means.
“The crude practice of Fulani Animal Husbandry throughout the country must be abolished and strictly restricted to the core north. The Federal Government must also hands off the epidemic Bill and refrains from its steady moves to plunge Nigeria into genocide and intractable anarchy”, they stated.
In the same vein, the President of ADF, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, has said that they have in their possession copies of the three versions of the bill, namely: Route and Reserve Commission for whatever purpose; An Act for Grazing Reserve in each of the States of the Federation for whatever purpose; and An Act to Establish the National Grazing Route and Reserve Commission.
According to Uzodinma, the last public hearing organised by the House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, focused on the Incessant Clashed between the Fulani Herdsmen, farmers and host communities, “with a tactical goal…to arrive at a conclusion that grazing reserves, grazing route and ranches were the answers to such incessant clashes”.
Indeed, he said, the Bill had passed the second Reading and the hearing was to prepare the grounds for the Third and final passage of the Bill in whatever version they call Consolidation of the Bill.
He said that ADF had in its memo called for the rejection of all versions of the Bill, saying there is a “need for our legislators to work in synergy with ADF for the benefit or our people.
“We have to keep our our open otherwise we may wake up to find that the Bill has been passed into law, despite all show of concern right from the Presidency to everyone.”
“When ADF learnt that Ohanaeze delegation that went with a memorandum in whose company was Cheif S. N. Okeke Igbo 1, Eze Nwosu Ibe and Chief Igariwe, Ohanaeze was not allowed to present the memo publicly. They were simply asked to submit their memo to the Office of the Chairman of the Committee and nobody complained about such slight on Ohanaeze.
“Thank God ADF position was quite comprehensive and represents what we know is the popular wish of our people on the Bill,” he said.