It has been gathered, due to the illegal raring of battles by herdsmen in Ondo state, the state government has reactivated the Cattle Trade Law of 1969.
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According to Reuben Abati, Ondo state government has already reactivated the Cattle Trade Law of 1969 before the seven days ultimatum given to unregistered herdsmen to vacate all the Ondo state forest reserves they settled in.
It was revealed that the state governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, has quoted relevant portions of two laws to pronounce an ultimatum that herders should vacate Government Reserved Forests.
The Law in quotes were drawn from the Land Use Act of 1978 and the 1969 Trade Cattle Tax Law of Ondo state promulgated in 1969 before the creation of the state which turns out to be relevant to the issue at hand.
Ondo State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Me Gboyega Adefarati disclosed that registration of farmers and their businesses has been in practice, he added that over 50,000 farmers have registered with the state in the last four years.
About the laws, it was gathered that both laws give enormous power to the executive council and governor on land matters, especially reserved forests.
Speaking with Reuben Abati, an official of the Ministry of Justice who spoke on the condition of anonymity also disclosed that “two of such laws which fully back the pronouncement of the Ondo State government on herdsmen’s activities within the state are the Land Use Act and the Trade Cattle Tax Law of Ondo State, promulgated as far back as 1969;
“Section 315 (5) of the constitution specifically states that nothing in the constitution shall invalidate enactments listed under items ‘a’ to ‘d’ thereof, one of which is the Land Use Act.
“In other words, nothing in the constitution, including the fundamental rights provisions therein, can invalidate the provisions of the Land Use Act.”
“Section 1 of the said Land Use Act categorically states that all land comprised in the territory of the state in the federation are hereby vested in the governor of that state and such land shall be administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
Section 12 (1) of the same Act also states that: “It shall be lawful for the governor to grant a licence to any person to enter upon any land” and explained further that while sub-section 5 thereof clearly states that “the governor may cancel any such licence if the licensee fails to comply with any of the conditions of the licence.” – Reuben Abati
He explained “The word ‘licence’ here simply means permit. Basically, therefore, it is within the powers of a state governor to grant a licence, permit or right to anyone to enter any land within the state and to cancel or withdraw such permit or licence if the holder violates any condition attendant to same.
“Therefore, the governor can impose conditions on anyone to enter and/or be licensed to enter any land within the state.
“The Ondo State governor, therefore, has the power to order herdsmen or any other persons carrying on any other business on lands within the territory of the state to apply for a permit or licence to do so under the above clear provisions of the Land Use Act. That cannot, in any way, be interpreted as a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of movement.”