Nigerians in different parts of the country who are opposed to open grazing due to the flood of wreckage caused their crops by cows are supposedly killed by Fulani herdsmen who watch-over the cows.
The Fulani herdsmen now operate with assault rifles across the 36 States of the federation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and property worth millions of Naira destroyed.
In a fresh attack of 23-24 June 2018, no fewer than 120 persons were killed and 50 houses burnt in several villages in Barkin Ladi, Mangu and Riyom Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Plateau State, while over 200 others sustained gunshot injuries. The credit went to gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
The attack attracted public condemnation from, both the international community and local. But in lieu of corresponding with Nigerians for the sake of humanity, the Chairman of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo, threw caution to the winds and said that the Fulani herdsmen must be given lands across the country for grazing, else the mayhem would continue.
Precisely, Bodejo made the barefaced quest known when he declared in an interview with the July 1 2018 edition of The Sun, Nigeria, saying that land all over Nigeria belong to the Fulani. In his own words, “Land all over Nigeria belongs to the Fulani.”
Misleading claim by Bodejo that land across Nigeria belong to Fulani: # What the law says
It is 40 years this year of Land Use Act in Nigeria; precisely March 27 1978 was when the Land Use Act was initiated.
Although, regarded as a contentious law in Nigeria today, but the law is supreme to matters that pertain to land in the country.
It is regarded as contentious because Nigeria is today practicing democracy whereas the Land Use Act was a decree promulgated by the military administration headed by General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1978. Yet, the Land Use Act 1978 holds water till date.
Pundits have said that before the enactment of the Land Use Act in 1978, there were three main sources of land law:
- Customary Law (varied from custom to custom)
- English received law (which comprises of the common law, doctrine of equity and statutes of General application), and
- Local legislation. There was also a duality of Land Use System in the southern and northern parts of the country.
Even though there was the Land Tenure Law in 1962, passed by the Parliament of the then northern Nigeria, the Land Use Act 1978 surpasses every other land laws in the country. Upon that, the Land Tenure Law 1962, yet, vested all land in the governor who was to hold land in trust for the people and only on rights of occupancy (not rights of ownership).
In April this year, the Chief Executive Officer of Gravitas Investment Limited, (promoter of Gracefield Phoenix), Mr. Olufemi Babalola, x-rayed the Land Use Decree (now Act), of 1978.
According to him, “Again, according to Chapter 202 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, that amended the Land Use Decree into the Land Use Act, it interpreted the law as an Act to vest all land compromised in the territory of each state (apart from lands vested in the Federal Government or its agencies), solely on the Governor of the state (Nigeria has 36 states and 774 local government areas), who would hold such land in trust for the people and would therefore be responsible for its allocation in all urban areas to those who needed it for developmental projects, while similar powers with respect to rural areas are conferred on local governments. This commenced from March 27, 1978.”
Misleading claim by Bodejo that land across Nigeria belong to Fulani: # What history says
“The issue of Fulani migration has been on for more than 200 years,” said President of Pan-Ndigbo National Forum (PNF) and the Grand Patron of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State Chapter, Chief Guy Ikokwu, challenging Bodejo’s claim of Fulani owning all land across the country, on the same newspaper.
A Nigerian politician, essayist, poet, lawyer and international figure, Femi Fani-Kayode had earlier in his treatise of February 2018 titled “Benue and Fulani ‘conquest’ – The dangerous delusion of Prof Labdo” told the history of the Fulani, characterising them by intruders.
Fani-Kayode said that to suggest that they (Fulani) were indigenous to the land that was later to be known as “Nigeria” or even “northern Nigeria” before the mid-1800 is simply not true and it is historically incorrect.
“It is also trite history that the Fulani came from Futa Jalon in modern-day Guinea (from a place called Vulture Mountain) and that their progenitor, Usman Dan Fodio, did not set foot in what was to later become modern-day northern Nigeria until 1797 or begin his jihad until 1804,” he said.
Fani-Kayode continued, “They (Fulani) conquered the Hausas states (1804-1809) and now they want to conquer all of Nigeria. That six million Fulanis in Nigeria (and 13 million in all West Africa) want to rule 150 million Nigerians is amazing!”
He added, “Fulanis originally lived in Morocco as part of the Maghreb Arabs that conquered the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal in 711 A.D. and swept into France in 732 A.D. before the Franks (Germans…Arabs still call Germans Franks) under their leader, Charles Martel, the Hammer of God, stopped them at Tours, near Paris, at the famous battle of Poitier.”
Conclusion: # Authorities own the land, not Fulani
The following are laws implemented to govern land in Nigeria:
Land Use Act of 1978
Registration of Titles Law (Lagos State, 2003)
Land Instrument Registration Law (1925)
The Registration of Titles Law
Registered Land Act of 1965 (Replaced the 1925 law in Lagos State)
Property and Conveyance Law (1884)
Land Use Charge Law (Lagos state)
Urban and Regional Planning Land Law (Decree 88) of 1992.
It is evident that the Nigeria’s Land Use Act 1978 vested power of utilisation of land in the country to the Governor of each State, not to group or individual.
Notwithstanding, the year 2018 was not a period in the 60s when the northern and southern parts of the country had their different governing rules to the use of land. Even then, the land in the southern part of the country was owned by families and communities. Except for the noble families or British government then in the country, no individual or group would claim ownership to a village land.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State. He can be reached via: email@example.com
The expressions in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ooreporters.com.
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