By Festus Ogun
The 7-day ultimatum offered to Fulani herdsmen to vacate forest reserves within just Ondo Point out by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN has because created heated controversies. Though the Federal Authorities declared that the Governor lacks the constitutional power to challenge give up discover to anybody in the Condition, the Governor and some other socio-cultural teams like Afenifere insist that the family vacation get stays valid. The reason of this intervention, as a result, is to endeavor a lawful dissection of the constitutional validity of the holiday get, vis-à-vis the general public desire problems arising from the plan.
Constitutionality and Legality of the Family vacation Purchase
Very first, the ideal to freedom of movement with no hindrance any where inside of Nigeria is confirmed beneath our constitutional jurisprudence. As a result, Part 41(1) of the 1999 Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (amended 2011) provides that “every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to shift freely in the course of Nigeria and to reside in any component thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thus or exit therefrom”. Without a doubt, all citizens of Nigeria are constitutionally entitled to settle, stay and move freely any place and just about everywhere in Nigeria, with no any concern of rejection, ostracisation or discrimination.
However, the legal rights to liberty of motion and personal liberty enshrined in the Structure are not absolute. Part 45 of the Constitution supplies that there could be a authorized instrument furnishing for the derogation to these rights in the desire of defence, public safety, public get, general public morality or public health or for the reason of safeguarding the legal rights and liberty of other persons. The Court of Attraction in KALU v FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA & ORS (2012) LPELR-9287(CA) succinctly held that: “the legal rights to personal liberty and independence of motion, assured respectively by Sections 35 and 41 of the 1999 Structure, are not absolute”. The court docket further explained that Part 41(2)(a) of the Structure claims that the correct to flexibility of motion may well be deprived beneath a regulation that is fairly justifiable in a democratic culture imposing constraints. Thus, no argument of constitutional or human legal rights breach can be maintained, “when it is obvious that the suitable has been deprived of in accordance with the treatment permitted by legislation.”
So, does the Ondo Condition Authorities have any regulation fairly justifiable in a democratic modern society that supplies for the derogation of the suitable to flexibility of motion? The respond to is a “Yes”.
By advantage of Segment 1 of the Land Use Act, 1978 all lands inside the geographical territory of a Point out in Nigeria is vested in the Governor. The part delivers hence: “all land comprised in the territory of each and every Condition in the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of that State and these land shall be held in have confidence in and administered for the use and prevalent gain of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act”. On the usage of the land, Section 12(1) of the Act empowers the Governor to grant licence or permits to everyone moving into or working with a land. Curiously, Portion 12(5) the Act vests upon the Governor the electric power to terminate any this sort of licence, if it fails to comply with the circumstances of the licence. Instructively, Portion 28 of the Act offers that “it shall be lawful for the Governor to revoke a appropriate of occupancy for overriding general public interest”.
Next, by advantage of Part 2 of the Trade Cattle Tax Law of Ondo Point out, 1969 (amended 2006), the imposition of “movement permit” of cattle traders is established. In truth, Section 9 of the Legislation empowers the Condition Govt Council to make regulations for the goal of enforcing the provisions of the regulation. It is also critical to observe that, Portion 9 of the Law criminalises failure to spend the trade cattle tax or failure to get such trade cattle to the suitable command publish for inspection purposes.
In addition, beneath the Ondo State Forestry Legislation regime (Forestry Legislation of Western Condition and Nationwide Forestry Policy, 2006), it is a felony trespass for an particular person to occupy a forest reserve without the need of acquiring permit from the State Govt by the Condition Forestry Office. When an personal, no matter whether an indigene or in any other case, enters into the forest reserve without permission consequent on which this kind of a individual is able of tampering with the forest create and ecosystem, it is an act of trespass punishable less than the law. In simple fact, in conditions of forests and open lands that are not “reserved”, no particular person can invade such a land without having lawful allow from the personal owner, communal authorities or the federal government as the case might be. Nearly anything small of a lawful allow just before occupying a land that does not belong to you, is a legal trespass.
From the foregoing, it can be safely and securely deduced that the Governor of Ondo Condition was proper in legislation to have issued a trip buy to unlawful occupiers of the State’s forest reserve. Does this imply the ideal to freedom of movement is breached? Certainly not: the derogation to the satisfaction of the suitable is backed up by regulation. It will have to be emphasised that the rights to liberty of movement and own liberty of the herdsmen have not in any way been breached, as individuals who want to continue occupying the forest reserve are entitled to make an application to the Forestry Department less than the Ministry of Agriculture in get to get the lawful permits. Disobedience to the lawful purchase by the Governor, exposes just one to arrest and prosecution.
Governor Akeredolu took an Oath of Place of work under the Seventh Agenda of the 1999 Constitution to protect, preserve and protect the individuals, as a result of unalloyed submission to the spirit of our laws. If without a doubt, Portion 14(2)(b) of the Constitution helps make it a duty of the Govt to present suitable security for the folks, exploring the appropriate provisions of the law to protect the individuals from the clutches of kidnappers, bandits, murderers and terrorists should not only be regarded as a brave transfer, but equally a rare screen of patriotism.
It is frequent knowledge that the forest of Ondo Point out, is the hiding spot of individuals terrorising the peace of our people today. It is not envisioned that the Governor folds his arms and watches, till his State will get completely ruined by an inferno. Consequently, the eviction policy is only a commendable shift to beef up the safety circumstance of the State. Any person opposed to the holiday order is either in like with the terrorists, or basically an enemy of the Nigerian individuals.
In the final analysis, the Governor should be advised that the electricity to impose a getaway purchase in this regard does not lengthen to outrightly evicting anyone from the geographical territory of the Condition, bearing in intellect the simple fact that all Nigerians have the correct to transfer freely all over the place and anyplace in Nigeria. As laid down by Supreme Court docket in the well-liked case of MINISTER OF Internal AFFAIRS v SHUGABA ABDURRAHAMAN DARMAN (1982) 3 N.C.L.R. 915 at 1009, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu lacks the constitutional electrical power to outrightly and absolutely evict any individual from the four partitions of Ondo Point out, as that would amount to an unpardonable infraction on the Constitution which shakes the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria. But, his legal may possibly to enforce getting of permits before occupying forest reserves, is unimpeachable.
Festus Ogun, Human Legal rights Activist