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Anti open grazing law: Fulani herders sue Oyo govt, House of Assembly

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….says law denies fundamental rights

Anti-open grazing law, Fulani herders, Oyo State
Ola Ajayi, Ibadan

Fulani herders in Oyo State have filed a suit against the state government and the State House of Assembly saying an anti grazing law recently passed is a gross violation of their fundamental rights.

The herders under the aegis of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria also joined the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state in the suit.

The law which had been debated, passed and signed into law by the executive arm was aimed at checking persistent farmers-herders clash in the state.In the suit marked M/744/2019, the herders want the Oyo State High court to declare the law illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

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They also want the court to grant them an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the “respondents, whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers or otherwise from carrying out any acts or omission which is likely to aid the enactment or even enact or pass the purported anti grazing bill into law as this would amount to a denial of their fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution of Nigeria”.

Part of their prayers is that the court should declare the law as a coordinated attempt or strategy at curtailing the livelihood of the applicants and further frustrating their lives in breach of constitutional provisions particularly section 33(1) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) goes to naught and same is invalid, null and void.”

For aggravated, punitive and general damages, they asked the court to grant them N100,000 against the respondents jointly and severally for the violation of their fundamental rights.

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The herders further stated that “as a matter of cultural heritage, open rearing or grazing of livestock having been passed onto generations to generations is the life and economy of the Fulani group on which the Fulani survives”.

The idea to pass the bill was mooted in October 2019 and just some weeks after that, it was debated and passed after allowing participation of all stakeholders to air their views.

The law has prohibited open rearing and grazing of livestock in the state and establishment of ranches for purposes connected to rearing of livestock.

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