By Korede Abdullahi
Abubakar Malami deserves a medal for buffoonery as the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the federation. He has always been notorious for making gaffes in the name of political utterances. His latest faux pas is the most unfortunate and infra dig of his exalted office as the chief law officer of the country (the only office with a constitutional provision among the cabinet positions by virtue of section 150 of the 1999 Constitution).
In his reaction to the resolutions of the Southern governors which place a ban on open grazing in order to stop the movement of cows by the nomadic Fulani herdsmen, the irascible Malami fumed with rage and turned logic on its head by likening the decision of the governors to banning spare parts dealers in the north instead of advising his Fulani kinsmen! What a brazenly mischievous statement from a public officer!
A discerning mind will know that Malami is making a veiled reference to the people of the Southeast (the Igbo) who are famous for vehicle spare parts sales in the country. The pertinent question is, what’s the nexus between the sale of spare parts and movement of cows all the way from the north to the south, on foot, by the nomadic herdsmen, who trample on the people’s right to enjoying their private property by trespassing on people’s farm on daily basis? Are those southerners selling spare parts in the north not paying rents to their landlords who lease shops to them or owning their own personal property where they are plying their trades and paying taxes to the government?
The Attorney-General, as the chief law officer should no better if he is not playing the devil’s advocate, that the resolutions of the Southern governors don’t affect section 41 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which provides thus:
“41.(1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.” The governors have never banned the Fulani or any other ethnic group from moving freely in the South, in as much as they pursue their legitimate businesses. Only the movement of cows on foot and open grazing on another person’s land is banned.
Malami should be told in clear terms that he should shed the toga of reckless tribalism and playing politics and face his primary duty of defending the rule of law as the chief law officer. Nigeria is currently in a perilous time of inflamed passion where murderous criminal gangs under various names like, unknown gun men, bandits, kidnappers, armed herdsmen and terrorists have held the country by the jogular. Making a comparison of spare parts with ban on open grazing is not only insensitive but tribalistic. With people like Malami in public positions, our quest for the elusive unity will be a mirage.
-Korede Abdullah is a lawyer.