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Ortom threatens legal action against FG over Grazing routes

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Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom, has threatened to drag President Muhammadu Buhari to court should he insist on going ahead with any policy that would support open grazing or grazing reserves in the country.

Ortom, who spoke with newsmen after arriving Makurdi from Asaba, yesterday, insisted that under his watch, the state would never accept open grazing.

While maintaining that the nation’s Constitution supercedes the Northern Nigeria Law that provided for grazing reserves, Governor Ortom said the state government would not accept the Grazing Reserve Policy, insisting that he would rather stand with the National Livestock Transformation Programme.

Governor Ortom, who wondered why the president has continued to insist on open grazing averred that the state would not concede any land for the policy, noting that such lands do not even exist.

“The truth is that if the entire country had accepted ranching, then why is Mr. President insisting on open grazing when there is no land for such. In the 50s when this policy was initiated what was the population of Nigeria? It was less that 40 million but today we are more than 200 million. The 923 square kilometer is not even enough to cater for the population. The reason Mr. President is insisting to some of us, I think there is a hidden agenda.

“Mr. President has aides, the Attorney General of the Federation, (Abubakar) Malami and other lawyers around him should advise him. For God’s sake, it is laughable and it appears we do not know what we are doing. Under my watch, the state will not accept open grazing. I have already briefed my lawyers should Mr. President insist on going ahead with the policy,” he stated.

Move capable of causing crisis –Lawyer

A lawyer, Mr. Banji Alabi, has expressed worry on the grazing routes policy, saying the initiative was capable of causing crisis in the country.

Alabi, chairman, Governing Council, Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, said the newly introduced grazing route was a grave error of judgment.

He said the initiative may precipitate another round of violence, arson, armed robbery, rape and kidnapping. He recommended that the National Assembly and the Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum adopt ranching, which he described as a better alternative.

Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a suit against President Buhari over his alleged failure to probe allegations of missing N106 billion from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

SERAP had in a letter dated April 17, asked Buhari to direct the AGF and anti-corruption agencies to investigate the allegation of missing funds.

It noted that the Federal Government can use the funds to implement the budget, instead of borrowing, if recovered.

Those joined as respondents in the suit include Malami and Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/903/2021 filed last week before a Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to promptly investigate the alleged missing public funds, ensure prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible, and the full recovery of the money.

SERAP through its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Joke Fekumo, said: “The failure to investigate the allegations of grand corruption in the 2018 annual audited report constitutes a grave violation of the duty placed on the Nigerian government to take appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances.”

“President Buhari’s constitutional responsibility to ensure the investigation and prosecution of allegations of corruption, as well as recovery of any missing public funds is contained in Section 15[5] of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides that the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’, and in the Oath of Office in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.”


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