…FG to suspend anti-grazing laws in states to appease herdsmen***
The National Assembly (NASS) has tabled a list of demands before the Muhammadu Buhari administration, asking it to implement them, lest they invoke “the Constitutional Powers of the Parliament”, a bye-word for impeachment.
The demands were listed as part of the outcome of an emergency executive joint session of both chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The meeting passed a vote of confidence on Senator Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, now the subject of police investigation over the 5 April robbery in Offa, Kwara state.
In contrast, the National Assembly members passed a vote of no-confidence on the Inspector General of police, who they want the president to remove because of what they considered to be his “outright disregard for constitutional authority of both the executive and the legislature”.
The lawmakers who met for over three hours in closed door, did not spell out what the “constitutional powers of the Parliament”, is but legal pundits said the only power they have is to set in motion an impeachment proceedings against the President.
Among the list of demands, the legislators want the Buhari administration to address the current security situation in the country.
They frowned at the constant harassment of legislators and other political actors, especially those who seem to hold a contrary view from the executive or those who are critical of the executive arm.
The legislative arm called on the executive to show sincerity in the fight against corruption, adhere to the rule of law and refrain from the “intimidation of Nigerians”.
They threatened that they may be forced to invoke their constitutional powers if the conditions were not met.
Below is the detail of the conditions from the Joint Session of the National Assembly:
1.The Security Agencies must be given marching orders to contain all the sustained killings of Nigerians and protect the lives and properties of Nigerians — as this is the primary duty for any responsible government.
2.The systemic harassment by the executive of perceived political opponents — people with contrary opinions in the legislature and the judiciary — by the police and other security agencies must stop.
3.There must be strict adherence to the rule of law and protection for all citizens by the President and all his appointees.
4.The President must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees and must be ready to sanction, those that carry out any act, that will ridicule or endanger the country and our democracy.
5.The government should show sincerity in the fight against corruption by not being selective and also prosecute current appointees that have cases pending against them.
6.The sanctity of the National Assembly should be protected and preserved by the federal government… and prosecute those who invaded the Senate to seize the mace.
7.Democratic elections must be competitive and inclusive by removing the current reign of fear and intimidation — particularly as we approach the forthcoming 2019 elections.
8.The National Assembly will liaise with the international community through the IPU, the APU, ECOWAS Parliament, Pan-African Parliament, EU, US Congress and the United Nations to secure our democracy.
The National Assembly will also engage with civil society organisations, trade unions and NGOs to further deepen and protect our democracy.
The President must take immediate steps to curtail the growing level of poverty and unemployment in Nigeria — especially now that we have an advantage of high oil prices.
Both chambers of the National Assembly hereby pass a vote of confidence on the Senate President, the Speaker and the entire leadership of the National Assembly.
We also hereby reaffirm our earlier resolution on the vote of no confidence on the Inspector General of Police, who does nothing but preside over innocent Nigerians with an outright disregard for constitutional authority of both the executive and the legislature.
The National Assembly will not hesitate to invoke its constitutional powers if nothing is done to address the above resolutions passed today.
In the meantime, in order to reduce tensions caused by the passage of the controversial anti-grazing law in three states, the federal government is considering suspending the implementation of the law, while negotiating safe routes for cattle herders.
This was part of discussions held at the security council meeting on Tuesday, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari with service chiefs in attendance.
The anti-grazing law is already operational in Benue, Ekiti and Taraba States, states that have experienced the most violence and a spate of mass murders since the law went into effect last year.
In Ekiti State, the law, signed by Governor Ayo Fayose in 2016, prohibits open grazing between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Governor Samuel Ortom followed suit in 2017 with a law that places an absolute ban on open grazing across Benue State.
The law, which went into effect in November 2017, has been blamed for the escalating violence which has left hundreds of residents dead in attacks linked to Fulani herdsmen across Benue since January 1.
Taraba State passed the anti-grazing law on July 2017, but law came into effect in January 24th this year, with a caveat that it will be implemented gradually after aggressive awareness campaigns across the state.
Minister of Defence Mansur Dan-Ali, in a statement signed by his Public Relations Officer (PRO), Colonel Tukur Gusau, suggested the “need to employ other channels with the affected states to reduce tension by suspending the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law while also negotiating safe routes for the herders.
“The urgent need for the Nigeria Police and Department of State Services to prosecute all the suspects arrested in states. The need to hasten the establishment of a National Commission on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria.”
Although the suspension of the law is in line with the demands of Miyetti Allah association of cattle herders, Dan-Ali’s positions is against past recommendations by the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Economic Council (NEC) that the option of cattle ranching be adopted to end the frequent clashes that have left thousands of people dead and several farmlands raided and destroyed.
Dan-Alli also suggested the launch of a joint task force operation, similar to Operation SAFE HAVEN in Jos, with headquarters in Gusau, to cover Zamfara and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna State, where kidnappings and killings have also been on the rise.
According to the minister, the Council considered the killings and kidnapping in the North-West, particularly along Abuja-Kaduna expressway, even as the service chiefs reviewed the activities of armed bandits and other criminal elements in Anka, Maru, Kaura Namoda and Atalanta Mafara in Zamfara State.
While noting that incidents of herdsmen-farmers clashes in Benue and Taraba had subsided, the minister disclosed that several arrests had been made in connection with killings and destruction of property.
He added that he informed the Council that the US government conveyed to the federal government matters pertaining to the implementation of Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act Section 231.
“It is pertinent to state that the award of contract for the procurement of the Mi-35M helicopters was completed before the act was signed into law in August 2017,” he said.
The Nigerian Army, he noted, has launched Operations LAST HOLD to flush out insurgents from their hideouts in the Lake Chad Basin area and to liberate communities to enable IDPs return to their homes.
The operation, he said, is to last till the end of August.
Those at the meeting included Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser; Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence; Ahmed Abubakar, Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police are attending the meeting.
Others in attendance are, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Representative of Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique.