Mr. Atedo Peterside, Chairman. Cadbury Nigeria

OBINNA EZUGWU

President and Founder, Anap Foundation, Mr. Atedo Peterside, has faulted claims by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, that the ban on open grazing of cattle by Southern governors, was an infringement on the herders’ right to freedom of movement.

Speaking on Channels TV Politics Today on Wednesday, Malami had faulted the decision of the Southern governors at their meeting in Asaba, Delta State on Tuesday last week, to ban open grazing of cattle, saying it does not align with the provisions of the constitution.

Malami who compared open grazing of cattle by Fulani herdsmen to spare parts business done by mostly Igbo traders, said the Southern governors’ decision would be the same as Northern governors banning spare parts business, a comparison that has drawn sharp criticism from Nigerians.

Responding to the AGF via his twitter handle, @AtedoPeterside, Peterside argued that the right to free movement doesn’t apply to cattle.

“It is disingenuous to link a ban on open grazing to the constitutional right to the free movement of persons,” he said. “The latter does not extend to the free movement of cattle, goats, sheep etc through farms with the attendant destruction of somebody’s harvest.”

Meanwhile, the AGF’s position, has continued to draw backlash from many Nigerians on social media, with many expressing surprise about his decision to compare spare parts business whose owners rent or buy shops, to open grazing of cattle, which has led to several clashes between herders and farmers with attendant loss of lives, even as others accused him of deliberately targeting the Igbo with the “unrelated” comparison.

“The ‘learned’ Attorney-General really sounds most unlearned with his Igbophobic illustration,” wrote a twitter user, @BarrROUN1990

Another user, Paul Smith Obasi @UnclePauly, said, “They give little or nothing but feel so entitled. Spare parts sellers rent shops, buy landed properties, pay taxes, kill no one, rapes no one. But those who destroy alcohol and still enjoy its tax revenues from other state are making weak comparisons, Seun you are not doing well!”

Another user, Victor, @akviktor, said “You sound really ridiculous Hon. Attorney General. Igbos rent shops for their spare parts businesses unlike herdsmen who engage in destroying lives and property under the guise of open grazing. Are you incapable of understanding this distinction? Haba!

“Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, says the resolve to ban open grazing by southern governors is equivalent to prohibiting spare parts trading in the north.”

Similarly, journalist, Nicholas Ibekwe, @nicholasibekwe, suggested that the AGF’s comparison, was a case of ethnic profiling.

“This is Nigeria’s AGF indulging in a bigoted dog whistle. Na wa!,” Ibekwe said.

Arguing along same line, Adedayo Adeyemo @dare092003, said, “The Igbo have see finish for President Buhari hand. He didn’t even dare compare herding with farming. Leaders indeed!.”

Similarly, William Ukpe, @_SirWilliam_, noted that, “The Southern Governors meeting was held in Asaba.

The Governors come from different ethnic groups in Southern Nigeria. Singling out Igbos because you want to threaten Southern Nigeria will not work, grow up…

Threatening with violence anytime you are scolded is a sign of Cultural suicide.

“Igbo spare parts owners are not grabbing land to run their business. Nobody is saying don’t ranch, buy land and do it normally, the anti Igbo threats won’t work, grow up.”

Yet, others pointed out that the AGF has been silent while Northern states destroy businesses of Southerners who sell alcohol in the North in the name of Sharia, even though the Nigerian constitution doesn’t prohibit sale of alcohol in the country.

“Banning open grazing is against the constitution but banning alcohol and Sharia is a friend of Nigeria’s constitution, said a user @osifekomark “Our AGF have spoken.”

Similarly, Raji Olayinka @clefraj, said, “But a governor in a state can ban the sale of alcohol in his state?
“The governors didn’t say dont do cattle business, they said do it properly. Its 2021, stop using the model Jacob used in Genesis, it’s outdated, it’s time to buy land and have your mini rugas.

For Dire Adesanya, @adeologo_dire, the AGF’s position, explains why the herders are always bold enough to challenge the decision of sitting governors in their respective states.

“To think those illiterate nomads can be so bold to dare a sitting governor of Benue, destroy plantations in Ibarapa, claim indigenous people’s lands and openly say all forest in Nigeria belongs to no one is an unguarded behaviour? It is no brainer they have powerful forces backing them.”

On his part, Onye Nkuzi @cchukudebelu, noted that as untenable as the AGF’s argument sounds, his position has the backing of United States based think tanks like the Eurasia Group.

“His argument, no matter how ludicrous it sounds, has the full backing of Washington D.C. based think tanks like the @EurasiaGroup,” he said.

Yet, others took on his interviewer, Channels TV’s Seun Okin for failing to ask the AGF necessary follow up questions.

“Channels provided a mouth piece for this nonsense and Ṣeun should be ashamed of himself,” said Othell Yarwyck @bigbrovar. “He made a mockery of journalism. Spare part sellers pay rent on land on which they sell their wares. The same north that bans sales alcohol.”