A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and astute Constitutional Lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has faulted the presidency’s opposition to the vacation order given to herdsmen in Ondo State by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
The PUNCH reports that Akeredolu had asked herdsmen to leave the state’s forest reserves within seven days.
Apart from ejecting the herdsmen, Akeredolu also banned under-aged grazing, night grazing, movement of cattle within the cities and highways.
But the presidency in a statement on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Akeredolu lacked the power to unilaterally sack herdsmen from Ondo forests.
Reacting in an interview with The PUNCH, the senior advocate said the presidency misinterpreted sections of the constitution.
Adegboruwa said, “I salute the courage of the governor. He displayed rare statesmanship and courage. I think it is a lesson for all governors to take hold of their territory and safeguard the lives and properties of people.
“While it is herdsmen in the South, it is foreigners in the North. All of us are suffering.
“I backed the governor 100 per cent because the constitution, in Section 14: makes the security and welfare of the people the primary essence of governance. Any governor that cannot guarantee the lives and properties of the people does not deserve to be in office.
“The constitution that the presidency is referring to is being misconceived and misinterpreted. Section 43 which grant people the right to own properties anywhere in Nigeria, cannot be construed as taking other people’s properties.
“Your right to acquire properties is that you acquire according to law and follow due process. When you get to a forest, it rather belongs to an individual, a community, or government. So, if you want to come to occupy a forest as a stranger, you must obtain the consent of any of the owners. You are a trespasser and any of them can activate a process to forfeit your trespass. This is what the Governor has done by giving notice.
“What the law requires is seven days to forfeit the occupation of a place occupied illegally. It is the presidency that is not conversant with the laws of our land, not Akeredolu.
“Section 44 of our constitution is against the compulsory takeover of lands. Let the presidency read the constitution properly. What the herders are doing is a forceful takeover of people’s land which is unconstitutional.”