Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, has demanded an end to the anti-open grazing law, which is operational in some states.
Speaking in Abuja on Tuesday after a meeting of President Muhammadu Buhari with the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin and some defence chiefs, Ali said the suspension of the law would reduce the tension in states where herders clash with farmers.
According to a statement released by Col. Tukur Gusau, his spokesman, Ali said after the meeting that the suspension of the law would further help in negotiating a safe route for herdsmen and their livestock.
“There is a need for the Nigeria police and Department of State Services to prosecute all the suspects arrested in the affected states while negotiating safe routes for the herders,” he said.
The call by the Defence Minister has met a lot of criticism as he has always defended the herdsmen against arrests and prosecution.
Also, the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, one of the states where the law is in practice, insisted that the state would not suspend the law. He urged the President to focus on ending the clash by farmers and herdsmen by investing in ranching.
He said: “Here in Ekiti, the Anti-Open Grazing law stays. It is the Presidency that should stop looking the other way while herdsmen go about killing Nigerians. Methinks the Presidency should be concerned about how to take the herdsmen out of the bush and give them decent life by embracing cattle ranching.”
Fayose further questioned why the President rears his cattle through ranching rather than open grazing. He also slammed the Defence Minister for always protecting and finding excuses for herdsmen whenever they invade any community.
“January this year, the Minister of Defence blamed passage of the anti-grazing law in some states as the cause of killings by herdsmen. Today, he is still singing the same song. Is there something to this old system of nomadic cattle rearing that they are not telling Nigerians?”
The anti-open grazing law is currently in practice in Ekiti and Benue State, while states such as Plateau, Taraba and Kaduna are also legislating on passing the anti-open grazing bill into law.