Chairman of the Southern and Middle Belt Elders Forum (SMBLF) Chief Edwin Clark has declared that open grazing is buried in southern Nigeria.
Clark who also doubles as leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) stated this yesterday when he reacted to a warning by a purported Fulani jihadist group to the Delta State government and the governor to withdraw, within 72 hours, his decision against open grazing, recently taken by the 17 governors of the South, at a meeting held in Asaba.
The elder statesman at a press conference in Abuja warned the federal government and those he called Fulani Jihadists that the people of the Niger Delta “will resist in such a way that will make it definitely impossible for the Federal Government security forces to cope with, should this action escalate.”
He stated that it is unbelievable, unpatriotic and unacceptable that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice to dig out the Gazette that approved open grazing in the First Republic.
He added that the president has no power or authority to impose open grazing on state governments under the Land Use Act.
Clark said any Gazette or Law by any state or National Assembly on the matter is null and void in light of the 1999 Constitution which supersedes them.
The elder statesman who expressed concern over the silence of northern leaders over the comments of the Jihadist group, noted that it was hypocritical of Northerner elders to accuse Igbo Elders of not rebuking IPOB.
Stressing that the decision on the ban on grazing has come to stay, Clark said, “The decision on open grazing and other decisions taken on national interest by the 17 Southern Governors received the full support of the people of Southern Nigeria, particularly the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo of the South East, PANDEF of the South South and the Afenifere of the South West.
“We will no longer tolerate hate and divisive statements targeted at deriding and insulting others, from these Fulanis who believe Nigeria is exclusively theirs and other Nigerians are their subjects, and not their fellow citizens.
“In order to maintain and promote a peaceful Nigeria, I was among other 50 prominent Nigerians including former heads of state, traditional rulers, former chief justices, that met for 9 hours, under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently on Thursday, 11th June, 2021, at the Conference Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, where valuable decisions were taken to maintain and sustain the unity of this country.
“I repeat, on behalf of southerners, that open grazing has been finally buried in Southern Nigeria. For Mr. President to insist that open grazing should continue whereby he asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to dig out the Gazette that approved open grazing in the First Republic is unbelievable, unpatriotic and unacceptable to our people.”
He urged the president to regard himself as President of one Nigeria, and not as President of the Fulanis or the Northerners adding that southerners “shall resist, at all cost, any attempt to subjugate us as citizens of one Nigeria.”
He however advised the attorney general of the federation and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, against misleading and misdirecting the president.