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Grazing routes: Malami failed to offer proper advice – Sagay

…says land use act superior to gazette

President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence on the recovery of cattle grazing routes in parts of the country, may be a function of the alleged failure of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to offer “proper advice” on its legality. Recall that President Buhari had, in an interview with a national television station about two weeks ago, directed the AGF to begin the process of recovering grazing routes, in the wake of farmers/herders’ crisis in the country. He had predicated his order on a gazette that was made in the early 1960s’ delineating some routes for herdsmen to graze their cattle. However, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has argued that the Land Use Act, which is a piece of legislation, has overriding power over the said gazette.

The Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, made the intervention in a telephone conversation with our correspondent. He submitted that the land use act, as captured in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), vests the ownership of land on the respective state governors. “My view is that the Attorney General of the Federation has not advised the Head of State (President) properly on this matter. “He has not done his job to advise him (President) that grazing routes are no longer a viable option legally, or even practically.

Because, where are the routes now, even if they existed before? “This has been discussed over and over again, and the Land Use Act is embedded in the Constitution (of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended). “Obviously, it over takes and overrides any other thing that came before it,” Sagay said. This was as he further submitted that the act, captured in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), vests the ownership of land on the respective State Governors who in turn hold the same in trust for their people.

The PACAC Chairman also interrogated the concept of grazing routes in contemporary society, concluding that the culture was no longer a viable one. Hear him: “There is no question about that. The governor is the owner of all state land in trust for the people.

“Secondly, all societies develop. A culture, which was practised a thousand years ago…driving cattle through thousands of kilometres, is no longer viable in a modern society for many reasons.” Asked to specifically situate the place of the gazette of the grazing route within the context of the Constitution, Sagay said: “That is what I’m saying now.

The Land Use Act is embedded in the constitution. “So, it has that superior legislative authority over any other thing. So, even if there was a conflict between it and the gazette of the grazing route, it (land use act) will take precedence over that gazette. “There is no question about that. In any case, in law, if you make two laws that contain the same or different contents, the latter one always prevails over the earlier. “So, we are talking of something made in the early ’60s, and we are now talking of a Constitution of 1999. There can be no question of which one is superior, and which will prevail over the other.”

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