By Kemi Olaitan
The controversy over the anti-grazing law recently passed into law by the Oyo State House of Assembly has assumed a new dimension as Fulani herders in the state have filed a suit against the state government and the House of Assembly, saying it is a gross violation of their fundamental rights.
The herders under the aegis of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria also joined the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the suit against the law aimed at checking persistent farmers-herders clash in the state.
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 had prohibited open rearing and grazing of livestock in the state and establishment of ranches for purposes connected to rearing of livestock.
In the suit marked M/744/2019, the herders want the Oyo State High Court to declare the law illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.
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”.
Other prayers of the herders is that the court should declare the law as a coordinated attempt or strategy at curtailing their livelihood and further frustrating their lives in breach of the 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”.
They also asked the court to grant them N100,000 against the respondents jointly and severally for the violation of their fundamental rights and for aggravated, punitive and general damages.
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”.