Nigerian Senator, Istifanus Gyang has warned the Plateau State government against a Bill to takeover private lands at will.
The Bill at the State House of Assembly which has passed second reading seeks to empower the Governor to exercise “absolute and discretionary powers” on all lands in the State, says Gyang, the Plateau North Senate representative.
It is an extension of the Federal Land Use Act, 1978 which only empowers State Governors over urban lands within the state.
The power to adjudicate over rural lands according to the Act lies in Local Governments.
The new land Bill is simply a “Land takeover Bill and is not welcomed as it has the possibility of disinheriting people of their ancestral lands,” Gyang said on Sunday at a memorial mass for 500 women and children killed in Dogo Nahawa, Jos South LGA in March 2010.
The “Bill for a law to make provision for the administration of lands in Plateau State and for other matters connected to 2019” came up last week at the State Assembly.
Punch reports that the bill, sponsored by an All Progressives Congress lawmaker representing Pankshin North Constituency, Mr. Dasun Peter, passed second reading on March 3, and is expected to pass the third reading on March 25 when the state lawmakers reconvene.
Part of the bill according to a Punch report reads, “Pursuant to the provision of the Land Use Act, the governor shall in respect of land in the state, whether or not the land is located in an urban area, has powers to grant statutory rights of occupancy to any person for all purposes.”
If passed, the bill might further threaten women and child development in the State.
The State with a population of about 3.3 million people according to 2006 census has Males 1,598,998, Females 1,607,533 and children 0-10years old 1,030,393.
The World Bank estimates that about 70% of Nigeria’s population live in rural and semi-urban areas where farming is the main occupation.
Although the bill has not been linked to any specific intent, observers fear it aims to forcefully takeover and use private lands for the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.
The NLTP, widely criticized as a reviewed version of the earlier trashed Grazing Reserve, Ranching and Cattle Colony Bills was approved for execution in the State last month.
The Plateau State Government on 4th February, 2020 signed a deal to start the National Livestock Transformation Program (NLTP) in the State.
The deal with two foreign companies – Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Ltd. and Integrated Diaries is for the start-off of the program in existing grazing reserves in Kanam and Wase Local Government Areas.
The NLTP, a Federal livestock business program introduced in 2018 was previously resisted due to “misinformation,” the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong said.
The Governor said, “When the NLTP was initiated, it was erroneously misinterpreted by those who wanted to play politics and discredit it.
“I told my people that as their Governor, I can never bring anything that will cause them pain and poverty.
“I was in the NLTP Committee, I understood clearly that Plateau State will not only benefit from it, but will use it to create jobs and address the farmer herder attacks which almost destroyed the peace of our peace “.
The Governor said those who had “taken over” most grazing reserves in the State were behind the “incitement and lies” against the program.
The takeoff of the program follows “wide consultations” and enlightenment, Lalong said.
“After the engagement with stakeholders, people embraced it because it is business.
“It has nothing to do with ethnicity, religion or tribe.”
Plateau which is among five selected pilot States will benefit from a N15billion fund earmarked for the program.