The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had on January 31, 2019, kicked against the open grazing prohibition and ranch establishment laws enacted in some states across the country.
Atiku, who was answering questions on the talk show “The Candidates” a month before the 2019 general elections, said the law was unconstitutional and infringed on the rights of Fulani herdsmen to freedom of movement and residence across the country.
The presidential candidate of the main opposition party declared that the law could not be upheld.
He said, “We have to look at the constitutionality of those laws." I’m not sure whether they come with the provisions of our constitution which guarantee freedom of movement, the right to reside wherever you want in the country, and so on and so forth. So we have to look at that.
“The constitution does not restrict the movement of people in Nigeria, so any law that restricts people from moving freely and doing their legitimate business can’t be upheld."
Naijacrawl reports that some of the governors who signed the prohibition bill into law in their various states are currently supporting Atiku to emerge as the next Nigerian President.
Apart from Benue State in the North Central, about seven states in the Southern part of the country, including Lagos, have enacted the law.
Ekiti State signed the anti-open grazing bill into law in 2016. It allows for at least six months' imprisonment for defaulters.
Abia State also signed its own in 2018, while Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri signed the bill into law in March 2021, stating that the target is to stop incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state.
Recall also that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, signed the bill into law in August 2021.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, while signing the anti-open grazing law in September 2021, said open grazing had affected the development of the state.
Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, also signed the bill on September 15, 2021.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, have vowed to support Atiku’s presidential ambition and ensure he succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari.