By Festus Ahon, Asaba
THE Southern Nigeria People’s Assembly, SNPA, said yesterday that the proposed Grazing Reserve Bill before the National Assembly is not only anachronistic and antiquated, but also an unfortunate elevation of what ought to be private commercial ventures into a national or government business.
The group in a statement by the leaders from the three South geo-political zones, which included former Vice President Alex Ekwueme (represented by former Anambra State Governor Chukuwuemeka Ezeife); Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark (represented by Senator Roland Owie); and Senator Femi Okorounmu who stood in for Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi decried the raping and killing of innocent Nigerians by Fulani herdsmen.
Lamenting the recent killings in Enugu State, Benue State and other parts of the country by the herdsmen, they said that the grazing bill portends danger to the nation. They added it will institute a source of permanent conflict in the land especially the federal structure of the country and the 1999 Constitution which vest power to hold land on the 36 states of the country and the minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
“The President should deal decisively with the issue of Fulani herdsmen in the manner government is dealing with the insurgency problem”, the leaders said, stating that “if unchecked it has the capacity to snowball into another Boko Haram. Consequently, he should set up a Judicial Panel of
Inquiry to investigate all Fulani herdsmen attacks between May 2015 till date and all those found to be directly or remotely involved in those attacks should be arrested and brought to book.”
The Southern leaders in the statement which was issued yesterday at the end of a three day meeting in Asaba, also said that the inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to begin the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference was objectionable.
According to them, the resolutions if implemented may help in resolving many political, socio-economic and security challenges of the country.
Calling on Nigerians to support Buhari in his anti-corruption drive, war on insurgency and his effort at reviving ailing industries, the Southern leaders however urged him to respect the rule of law, the protection of citizens’ fundamental human rights and the pronouncements of the courts.
They advised that the war on corruption should neither be vindictive nor selective, adding that selective justice amounts to injustice. They also called for the immediate release of all Nigerians who were granted bail by the courts and have subsequently met their bail conditions but are still being detained.