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Taraba Grazing Bill: Human Rights Activist Vows to Block Its Passage

By Nick Dugba.

A Jalingo based human rights lawyer, Barr. MB. Mustapha, has kicked against the proposed grazing prohibition bill before the Taraba state House of Assembly, describing it as a violation of the rights of movement and discrimination as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria.

In his comments which is trending on the social media, the outspoken and fiery lawyer, stated that the proposed bill would create more problems rather than solve  the problem now being experienced in the state.

He said “the bill the governor sent to the House of Assembly prohibiting grazing in Taraba state will not succeed by the grace of God because it has violated the laws of Nigeria. If you look at section 4 of the constitution of Nigeria under fundamental rights,it has proven to us under sub section 41 that there is freedom of movement, also under sub section 44, it talks of freedom from discrimination…How can you stop the Fulani man from grazing in his own state which is his means of survival?” , he asked.

He  urged the members of the House to protect the rights of those who elected them while assuring that he is waiting for the proposed public hearing to be organized by the House.

“We are waiting for the public hearing. They would hear us and we would make sure we stand our ground in order to protect the interest of Fulani herdsmen on this bill that does no good..this bill, instead of solving the problem would rather aggravate the issue and bring about rancour. They should know that the laws of Nigeria supersedes that of Taraba, therefore the laws of Taraba are insignificant in comparison to that of Nigeria”, he added.

But another legal practitioner, Barr. Neirus, called Mustapha a “noise maker” who is “playing to the gallery”. According to him, “no right is absolute” and that the governor has the constitutional right to preserve lives and property. He also said the anti-grazing bill is within the constitutional powers of the governor.

However, while responding on the matter, Chief of Staff, Taraba state Government House administration, Rebo Usman, stated that whoever was not satisfied with the bill should go and ‘lobby’ the House saying the polity should not be overheated.

According to Rebo, “let the House do their work! If he wants to go against the bill, he should go and lobby the House. Other states have passed the law, so why should Taraba state’s own be controversial? If anybody doesn’t want it, they should go and lobby the House. If it doesn’t scale through the House, then that’s it! Nobody has taken it to court that they have done an unconstitutional thing. So let the House do their work. Let’s not overheat the polity. The executive has submitted their bill, let the House do their work”, he concluded.

The Executive governor of Taraba state, Arc. Darius Ishaku, had on 16 May, 2017, forwarded the bill to the House of Assembly, aimed at checking the clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the state.

The bill titled, Taraba state Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranching Establishment Bill 2017, has recently passed second reading and due for public hearing.

According to the letter by the governor, “these recent trends which are on the increase cannot be allowed unabated. As a responsive and responsible government, steps must be taken to protect, safeguard lives and property our people”.

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