Finally the raging and controversial RUGA settlement or cattle colonies project proposed and marketed by President Muhammadu Buhari has been buried, at least for now.
What we don’t know is under what protext or label it will be resurrected to distract the nation from the present realities of dire economic problems which many households are facing.
Surprisingly this RUGA settlement was never part of the APC’s manifesto or proposal during the 2018 to 2019 political campaign period, but suddenly the government woke up and tried every possible means to force it down the throat of Nigerians.
Even in the presidency, there seems to be a disconnect between those pushing for the RUGA option and the comprehensive ranching transformation agricultural project under the auspices of the Vice President, Professor Yomi Osinbajo.
In Nigeria, we like playing with words, so what is the difference between the cattle colonies that was canvassed for in 2017/2018 and the RUGA project of 2019? It is obvious that there are people in the corridors of power who think that most Nigerians are fools and can’t read in between the lines of words that are meant to confuse people with simple minds.
Whatever you call it, RUGA or cattle colonies are one and the same thing. It is just a matter of choice of words or label to sell an unworkable policy in most parts of the country.
The palpable fear and the opposition this RUGA generated across the country indicate that primordial economic solution to modern problems are unworkable in an enlightened society. It is not that people hate cattle herders, but their antecedents are an open book of destruction of farmlands, murder, rape and genocide.
In states like Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Enugu, rampaging herdsmen have left in their wake massive destruction of lives and property and as at today, they have even ventured to the lucrative crime of kidnapping. And to make matters worse, hardly can we hear of arrests made by security agencies of these marauders.
So, when the federal government tried to re-label its unworkable cattle colonies project to Ruga settlements, the opposition to it from the middle belt and the states in the southern part of the country was overwhelming. As notable personalities like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former chief of army staff, General Theofilus Danjuma, governor from the South-East, South-South, the middle belt, clerics and socio-cultural groups like the Ohaneze, Afenifere, the Ijaw National Congress, all condemning the scheme.
So what really went wrong? To some keen observers of the socio-political structure of the country, the president is just pandering to the whims and caprices of his Fulani kinsmen. Apart from that, he is also the life patron of the Miyeh Allah group, which sees nothing wrong in their actions.
There is also this feeling that in Nigeria under the present dispensation, the lives of cows have more value than human lives, that is why despite the atrocities committed by this group, the presidency has never ordered security agencies to deal with them the way the government has dealt with others, for example, the Biafra group.
Again, there is the universal belief that cattle rearing is a private business and the government should not involve itself in such a venture. But the passion and zeal shown towards the project, coupled with the fact that in some states, sign posts have been hurriedly in some states, sign posts have been hurriedly put up, such as in Benue State, without the consent of the host government despite the fact that there is already a law prohibiting open grazing of cattle, calls for concerns.
Meanwhile the somersault by the government to jettison the idea is highly welcomed and shows that if Nigerians speak with one voice absurd policies will no longer have a place in the country.
According to the current global terrorist index report, “not less than 3,641 people were killed between 2015 to late 2018. And in 2018 alone 1,700 people were killed by herdsmen between January and September of 2018. It adds that the herdsmen have killed six times more people than any terrorist group in Africa”.
So, no one with a same mind, who values his or her life will like to have the herdsmen as neighbours. But if the option of ranches is implemented the issues of violence or rape of women in their farms will no longer persist. The herdsmen should be encouraged to buy land and join the modern world by building their own ranches. Ranching still remains the best option as it will provide the individual herdsman the opportunity to expand his business, have better health facilities and as well, eliminate cattle rustling and theft.
It is only when we play less politics with serious issues that we can make any meaningful progress. There is this distrust of certain government policies that no matter how it is painted it will still have a bad smell. Why is it that from 36 states to 12 and now to being suspended; the Buhari administration should jettison its ill-conceived so called cattle colonies and promote modern ranching as it obtain in South African, Namibia, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. We don’t need to see cows roaming the streets of Abuja, Lagos or Port Harcourt, creating nuisance and threatening the lives of pedistrians and motorists.
Today, a lot of Nigerians will feel vindicted that the huge outcry has paid off with the suspension of the programme, but there still should be vigilance as we don’t know yet the next device that would be used to promote this absurd idea of cattle colonies nationwide for a particular ethnic group. Because if the scheme had sailed through, every ethnic group that was dormant in a particular trade or business could advocate for its own; such as breweries, piggery, dog meat, snake, motor spare parts and others.
Let us grow above primordial sentiments and think like a 21st century human being.
Taraba Guber Poll: Tension Mounts As Appeal Court Decides, Today
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal will today deliver its verdict in the appeal brought by the All Progressive Congress (APC) seeking to reverse the judgment of the Taraba State Governorship Election Tribunal, which affirmed the re-election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in the state.
Already, there is mounting tension in the state among supporters of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, ahead of the judgment.
This is demonstrated by their large turn up in Abuja where the judgment will be delivered.
A three-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice M.O. Adewara had in a unanimous judgment of September 20, 2019, dismissed the petition by the APC and its candidate, Abubakar Danladi on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal further held that Danladi was not qualified to contest the March 9 governorship election.
It would be recalled that before the March 9, 2019 governorship election, the Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State, had disqualfied Danladi and equally restrained his political party, the APC from Fielding him as a governorship candidate.
Attempts by Danladi to overturn the order of the Federal High Court that disqualified him were unsuccessful at Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively.
Following the above development, the petitioners had on July 10, 2019, withdrew the petition on ground of the disqualification of Abubakar Danladi by the Supreme Court and the petition was accordingly disimissed.
However, on July 13, 2019, the petitioners filed a motion and prayed for an order setting aside the order of dismissal and asked that the petition be relisted.
The tribunal on August 9, 2019 granted the petitioners motion, set aside the order of dismissal of the petition and same was relisted, thereafter, Danladi ceased to participate in the proceedings.
Delivering its judgement after close of hearing, the tribunal held that a Federal High Court in Taraba State had given a judgment on March 6, 2019, in a suit marked FHC/JAL/CS/01/2019, disqualifying Danladi from contesting the election.
It noted that the affirmation of the judgment by the Supreme Court implied that the APC had no valid candidate in the election.
Besides, the tribunal explained further that even if the petition was to be considered on the merits, the petitioners failed to lead sufficient evidence to establish their claims that the governor was not validly elected by a majority of lawful votes.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, the All Progressive Congress, without its candidate, Danladi, approached the Court of Appeal marked CA/A/EPT/934/2019, on October 3, 2019, in petition No: EPT/TR/GOV/01/2019, for an order setting aside the decision of the tribunal.
In the said notice of appeal, the party contended that the tribunal erred in law and occasion a miscarriage of Justice in arriving at its decision dismissing the petition.
Meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal with punitive cost as same is frivolous and unmeriterious.
The party in its brief of argument filed by its counsel, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) noted that the appeal by the APC did not include the name of its candidate, Danladi as a person who would be directly affected by the outcome of the appeal.
Citing several case laws, Akuma argued technically, that a party to a suit is not allowed to unilaterally alter a case as constituted from the trial court and that names of parties must be maintained on appeal except as may be ordered by the court.
He submitted that, the unilateral alteration of the parties in the petition, as shown on the face of the notice of appeal, without the name of Danladi, who was the first petitioner at the tribunal renders the said notice of appeal incompetent and liable to be struck out.
Akuma specifically drew the attention of the Court of Appeal to its decision wherein it held thus: “It is now trite law that an appellant or a party seeking to appeal as an interested party cannot rearrange or reconstitute the parties to an action as constituted in the lower court at appellate court. The parties on record at the lower court must be retained at appellate level…the structure of the parties cannot by unilaterally changed or amended by any of the parties to an appeal.”
On the merit of the appeal, the PDP urged the Court of Appeal to hold that the appeal lacks merit and should be accordingly struck out.
The Court of Appeal is expected to give judgment today after the adoption of briefs of arguments by counsel to parties in the appeal.
Cleric Tasks Leaders On Citizens’ Welfare
A High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State capital, presided over by Hon. Justice E. Ita has ordered Governor Ben Ayade to conduct local government elections in the State.
The Court in a Suit No: HC/514/2018 filed by the APC through their Lawyer, Chief (Barr.) Utum Eteng against Governor Ben Ayade and the State Attorney-General, frowned seriously on the action of the defendants and stated that there was no alternative to obeying the constitution and the law in the matter of this nature.
The Court held that it is a breach of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution for Gov. Ayade not to conduct election to usher in a democratically elected Local Government as stipulated by section 7(1) of the constitution and section 2(1) of the CRS Local Govt. Law 2007. The Court said that more than three years after the expiration in December, 2018 of the democratically Local Government Councils put in place in December, 2015 by the Gov. Liyel Imoke led State Government the Ayade Government had not found it proper to do the needful by conducting Local Government elections into the 18 Local Government Councils in the State.
The Court also held that the representation put in place by APC members, Engr. Obono Onen, Ekaha Effiom, Hon. Polycab Effiom, Rt. Hon. Mkpanam Obo Ekpo and Benedict Lukpata, representing other APC Chairmanship candidates to the 18 Local Government Councils was in order pursuant to the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2008.
The APC had stated that Gov. Ayade and the CRSG had no constitutional power to stop conducting local government elections in the eighteen local government areas in the state. The APC was represented by Chief Utum Eteng, who led two other lawyers from his chambers, Barrister Jude Otakpor and Ihua-Maduenyi.
They commended the Court for being on the side of the clear and unambiguous provision of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution.
By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
Polls: SERAP Wants ICPC To Probe APC, PDP, Security Officials
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate whether the persistent crimes of corruption, violence and killings during elections in Nigeria, most recently in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and the repeated failure of the Nigerian authorities to address the crimes amount to violence against Nigerians and crimes against humanity.
The petition dated 16 November, 2019 was sent to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, ICC.
The organization urged Ms Bensouda: “to push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, officials of the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other actors who contributed to the corruption, violence and killings during the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”
In the petition signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“The incidents of bribery and corruption, intimidation and violence witnessed in Bayelsa and Kogi states also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption and end impunity of perpetrators.
“The desire for power at all costs by politicians undermines Nigerians’ rights to open, transparent and accountable government that respects human rights and observe the rule of law. Election-related corruption and violence make public officials susceptible to corrupt incentives.
“The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of election-related corruption, violence and killings, which in turn has promoted the sense of impunity and emboldened those politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit these crimes against the Nigerian people during election periods.
“The violent events witnessed in the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states suggest the lack of political will by the authorities and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to respect the sanctity and integrity of the electoral system and to apply criminal sanctions to perpetrators of corruption, violence and killings during elections.
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