File: Lawyers

….seek Executive Order to give Governors control of Police

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA– Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, have flayed President Muhammadu Buhari’s support for open grazing, as well as, his position that governors should take care of security situations in their states.

In separate interviews with Saturday Vanguard, the legal luminaries, urged President Buhari to jettison his decision to re-establish grazing routes across the federation.

They argued that though the 1999 Constitution, as amended, guaranteed freedom of movement for citizens, such freedom was not extended to castles.

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Besides, the learned silks noted that though state governors are referred to as Chief Security Officers of their state, they however do not have any control over either the police or the military.

According to Mr. Dayo Akinlaja, SAN, who is a constitutional lawyer, Governors, are not statutorily inhibited in any way from placing a ban on open grazing within their respective states.

He said: “What some of us are saying is that, if by reason of open grazing, others are being put to danger and economic hardship, it is only proper that it should be reconsidered.

“The idea of saying that open grazing should not be stopped is a way of saying that you have no sympathy for the wellbeing and welfare of your citizens.

“Under the Land Use Act, every government is vested with the right to the title of the land. The landscape of the state is under the ownership and control of the governor who holds it in trust for the people.

“The governor is at liberty to say that he does not want open grazing to be done on the land.

“Besides, the issue of re-establishing grazing routes cannot stand. What the Constitution guaranteed is the right of movement for citizens and not cattle.

“If someone is saying that he does not want a system that has caused problems and social disequilibrium in his state, you cannot force such person to still maintain such system.

“You cannot leaverage on the Constitutional provision of right of movement to insist that you can graze anywhere, even to the prejudice and discomfort of others”.

On the issue of insecurity, Akinlaja, SAN, argued that will be a mission impossible to ask governors to tackle the situation, when they have no control over the police or the military.

“It is a fact that the law does not command the impossible. It is not right for the President to ask the governors to go and sort out themselves, when he knows that they are only Chief Security Officers of their states in name.

“The governors do not have control of either the police or the military. If on account that the Constitution did not give them control of Police and military, and you still do not allow alternative security outfits they are setting up to carry arms, then, how do you want them to confront the bandits and criminal herders that carry AK-47?

“On the reference to traditional rulers. How many of them are safe or secured today? Most traditional rulers are even living in fear. Many of them have been kidnapped from their palace. I think the latest case happened in Ekiti. What is there for the traditional rulers to do?

“The President should realize that the issue of insecurity has gone far beyond how he is taking it. Things have degenerated so much that we need a radical approach.

“This is exactly why people are agitating for restructuring. In a properly structured society, the governors should have control of security architecture in their state.

“Asking governors to confront security challenges in their states when they have no control of security apparatus, is like asking them to do the impossible in the context within which we have found ourselves”.

Likewise, Chief Paul Ananaba, SAN, faulted President Buhari’s position, even as he made case for the establishment of state police.

He said: “The law is clear on the issue of the police and the military. The governors have no control over them.

“I would have been happy if the President had come by way of Executive Order, directing the Inspector-General of Police to take instructions from state governors. That is what I think will accord in law.

“This further goes to show that the argument for state police has merit.

“On the issue of open grazing, it is a consensus opinion among Nigerians that it does not help, both for the North and the South.

“I urge the President to take a second look at this issue. The governors are not alone. Majority of Nigerians are in support of their position on ban of open grazing.

“Even the cattle rearers themselves have agreed that it is no longer fashionable.

“I do not support the position of the President on the issue. I support the governors”, he added.


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