While still faced with Boko Haram atrocities in the North East, Nigerians are faced with heavily armed herdsmen invading farming communities, leaving death and destruction in their wake. Possibly emboldened by the impunity of their wanton attacks, the rampaging herdsmen soon extended their killing spree across the country, particularly in the North Central, South East, South-South and South West. Nigerians were thrown into shock and rage after the chilling massacres in Agatu community in Benue and Nimbo community in Enugu State. 

Since then, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has been pressured to rise to the occasion and put a permanent check on the excesses of these killer cattle herders. Several options have been canvassed. One of these is a bill currently before the Senate which, if passed into law, will pave the way for the establishment of grazing reserves in different parts of the country. 

The Bill was first presented in the House of Representatives where it has passed its second reading. In the Senate, it was sponsored by Senator Zaynab Kure   (PDP, Niger South), and titled: “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment, Presentation and Control of National Grazing Reserves and Livestock Routes and the Creation of National Grazing Reserve Commission and for Purposes Connected Therewith”. The Bill was from inception mired in controversy as there was a sharp division between those in support and those opposed to it when it was first presented before the Senate, with some senators even denying its existence in the Red Chamber. 

The Senators who spoke in favour of the bill argued that if passed into law it would stop communal clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers in parts of the country. But its opponents have argued that its passage would bring it into conflict with the existing Land Use Act. The senators who shared this sentiment argued that the only way the Bill could be passed into law is if the Constitution is amended for that purpose which is not likely, hence the wide perception that it is dead on arrival. 

Apart from that, most states in the country, especially across the South and parts of the North Central, have spoken out against it. It is believed that the envisaged Grazing Commission would confiscate indigenous peoples’ lands and allocate same to Fulani cattle owners. Many interest groups have vowed not to surrender their ancestral lands to the proposed commission. Some state governments have also declared their opposition to the scheme. We therefore reiterate our stand that no state, community or family should be made to forfeit their lands for this project, to avoid creating new conflicts while trying to solve an old one.

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