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Despite the presence of laws regulating land management, the issues of herdsmen and farmers conflict  persevered both in the Northern and Southern Nigeria. The study presented an overview of the anti grazing law together with the land use act of 1978 examining the bases of the anti-grazing law which is in the land used act. The problems of the land use act and the anti-grazing laws of various states was discussed. It is crystal clear from the background of this study that the problem of violence and conflict arising from the consistent clash of farmers and herdsmen which lead to the formulation of the anti-grazing bill in Nigeria is far from over as there is still incidence of violence in states which have passed the bill into law.

This research work will be based on a critical and analytical study of the topic under discuss, spread across the following chapters:

Chapter one:                            Introduction

Chapter two:                           The land use act: relevant reforms and innovations

Chapter three:                                    Necessity of the anti grazing / anti open grazing  bill

Chapter four:                           Problems of the land use act and the anti-grazing

Chapter five:                           Conclusion and Recommendations.



The promulgation of the Land Use Act (LUA)1 in Nigeria on March 29th, 1978 brought about a fundamental change in land tenure systems through the abolition of private ownership of land.2 By virtue of its all land comprised in the territory of a State is vested in the State Governor who holds in trust for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians.3 Under this uniform system of land tenure, the highest interest in land is a right of occupancy. This can either be a statutory right of occupancy, which is granted by the State Governor in respect of land in both urban and non-urban areas or a customary right of occupancy, which is granted by a Local Government in respect of land in a nonurban area.4 Designation of urban and non-urban areas of a State is the exclusive responsibility of the State Governor.5

The LUA originated as a decree of a military government, which advanced as a

rationale for its introduction, the “limiting, inhibiting and divisive nature of land


1  The Land Use Act No. 6 March 29, Cap L5. LFN 2004

2   These pre-existing land laws include-customary, received English land laws and the Land Tenure Law

3 The Public Land (Miscellaneous) Decree, 1976 which provided for the amount of compensation throughout the whole country. But it has been repealed by the Land Use Act 1978

4 The Land Use Panel set up on the 16th April 1977 headed by Justice Chike Idigbo

5               Ibid

 tenure in the country.”6 By abolishing private ownership of land, proponents of the LUA believed that it would (i) facilitate access to land for public and private use, (ii) promote tenure security and (iii) curb land speculation, which had been driving land values upwards and out of the reach of most Nigerians. But after 25 years of being in force, these goals are from being achieved. Instead, the LUA has become the focus of widespread criticism.

These have culminated in calls for the repeal of the LUA on the grounds that its

implementation has been extensively abused because of its unwieldy provisions.

“ The creation of Trust relationship all over the civilized world is a voluntary act of its creator. It is an office of confidence and strict accountability. A trusteeship is an office of very high fiduciary responsibility, which can never or should never be assumed by force of arms as under the Land Use Decree. This bulldozer of a decree enacted without proper consultations, vests ownership and management Rights over other peoples land in a


6 Ibid

“stranger element” whose only qualification is that of overlord …. Here lies the fallacy of this fake trusteeship created under section 1 of the said Decree. … A forced trust with powers vested on the Trustee to convey trust property to any one he pleases, including himself, without question, must by common sense be bizarre and monstrous indeed. ….. In the circumstance, there is the urgent need for the Constitution Debate Committee to take a very close look at this Decree, as it presently stands. The Decree needs to be either abrogated or moderated.” 7

Despite its title, the LUA mainly deals with land administration. On land use, it provides that both the State Governor and a Local Government can grant rights of occupancy for any purpose. But the consent of the State Governor is required for any grant of a customary right of occupancy for agricultural purposes if the area of land exceeds this however brings in to prospective the use of this provision of the land use act by state government to facilitate the anti grazing bill as a conflict resolution strategy between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers.


7 Ibid

Over the years the role of government in conflict resolution between Fulani herdsmen and farmers are very insignificant, this has resulted into constant conflict across different state in Nigeria. Conflicts between farmers and nomadic cattle herders have been a common feature of economic livelihood in West Africa8. In the period before the beginning of the 20th century, the problem was mainly restricted to the savanna belts of West Africa. Cattle rearing were mainly prevalent in the Guinea, Sudan and Sahel savanna belts where crop production was carried

out only during the short rainy season on a small scale. This gave the cattle herders access to a vast area of grass land. As time went on, and with the introduction of irrigated farming in the Savanna belt of Nigeria, and the increased withering of pasture during the dry season, less pasture was available to cattle herders. The

herds’ men had to move southward to the coastal zone where the rainy season is longer and the soil retains moisture for long, in search of pasture and water a movement called transhumance.

Okon9 Is of the view that since the sahelian drought of the 1970s and 1980s, and the accompanying migration of a huge number of pastoralists into the fringes of the humid forest zone of West Africa, there has been a massive increase of the


8 Tanah S. Managing farmer-herder conflicts in ghana’s Volta Basin. Ibadana Journal of Social Sciences. 2006;4(1):33-45

9 Ibid

incidence of farmers-herders conflict. Cases of farmers-herders conflict are widespread in Nigeria in recent times.

For instance, in Densina Local Government of Adamawa State, 28 people were feared killed, about 2,500 farmers were displaced and rendered homeless in the hostility between cattle rearers and farmers in the host community in July 200510 stated that many farmers and herders have lost their lives and herds, while others have experienced dwindling productivity in their herds. This was supported11

 and cited by in an observation that in Imo State for instance between 1996 and 2005, 19 people died and 42 people were injured in the farmers-herders conflicts and the violence that often accompanied such conflict. The conflicts are a threat to peace and national stability. It also has implication for tribal co-existence, Nigeria

being a multi-ethnic and a multi-tribal nation. Over the last decade, reporting of farmer-herder violence has increased exponentially. The largest spike in reporting, occurring between 2013 and 2014, may be as a result of an increased number of incidents, increased awareness on the issue.


10 Okon NJ. Minimizing farmer-herder conflicts in fadama areas through local development plans: Implications for increased crop/livestock productivity in Nigeria. Paper presented at the 30th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Society for Animal Production, held 20th – 24th March; 2005.

11 Ajuwon (2004) cited by Nweze NJ (2005). Minimizing farmer-herder conflicts in Fadama Areas through Local Development Plans: Implications for increased crop/livestock productivity in Nigeria. Paper presented at the 30th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Society for Animal Production, held 20th – 24th March.

The consistency of the Fulani herdsmen attack instigated the signing of the Anti-Grazing Bill into law in several states, restricting cattle grazing between hours and locations within government sanction areas. Millions of Nigerians hold similar views to the sedentarisation, or settling, of Fulani herders to curb the growing insecurity and violence.  Though criticized by a few perhaps, few for its potential to exacerbate ethnic conflicts.

For the argument against the anti grazing bill Kautal12 opined that anti grazing law in benue state was targeted at destroying the means of livelihood of herdsmen, who have grazed in the Benue valley for ages.  Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo13, stressed that the anti-grazing law was not in the best interest of peaceful coexistence of herdsmen and other citizens of the country. His words:

“The grazing law agenda is destroying herders’ means of livelihood and we are appealing for immediate intervention to save Fulani pastoralists from the total destruction of their means of livelihood by current trends from some state governors enacting segregational anti-grazing law.”

Bodejo 12 asserted that :


12 addressing a press conference in Kaduna at the end of its North-Western region zonal meeting on land management and usage

13 vanguard nigeria anti open grazing law time bomb miyetti allah

“It is a negative law because it attempts to expel Fulani herdsmen from areas they have been grazing for ages. Besides, no herder were involved during the preparation of Benue grazing law. To us, ensuring security of citizens should be the priority of governance, but this anti-grazing law is nothing but a time bomb if not addressed with wisdom.”


There is a huge amount of literary works on the appraisal of the land use act in nigeria but little has been said about the act in relation to the recently passed anti grazing law by several states of the country. Therefore this study assess the anti open grazing law practiced by some states in Nigeria likewise the land use act highlighting the problems of the practicability of the land use act and the anti open grazing bill.


The enormity of the subject matter has led to the selection of some aspects of our land laws in Nigeria. In general, reference is made to virtually all our land and property laws which were in existence before the enactment of the Act in 1978 land the implementation of the anti grazing law in ekiti and benue state.


The study is more analytical than descriptive. An analysis of the evaluation of the problems of the Act are embarked upon in order to achieve the objectives of this study. The information relied on for these works are sourced from primary and secondary sources. In this connection, the Land Use Act No. 6 of 197814, Land Tenure Law of 196215, Public Land Acquisition Act16, the Nigerian Constitutions17 among others serve as major primary source. The secondary source include-materials on the internet, books, essays, journals and articles published on the subject matter together with the opinions of the courts in judicial decisions. Information is also sourced from the libraries of other institutions like the University Of Ibadan, Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of Lagos. Many law chambers were also visited to gather information through personal interaction with Lawyers in those chambers.


As earlier noted, many treatises have been published on this subject matter, few of which are worthy of mention here. They include: ‘Cases on the Land Use Act’18 


14 Lagos University Press 1985

15 ABU Press Ltd., Zaria 1989

16 Fab Anieh (Nig) Ltd. 1989 Jos)

17 Sheneson C.I. Ltd 1990.)

18 Lagos University Press 1984

by Omotola J.A., ‘Essay on the Land Use Act 1978’19 by Omotola J.A., ‘Handbook on the Land Use Act’20  by Niki Tobi, ‘Nigerian Land Use Act: Policy and Principles’21  by James R.W, ‘Modern Nigerian Land Law’22 by P.O.A Oluyede, ‘Principles of the Land Use Act’17 by Uwakwe Abugu, ‘The Land Use Decree 1978: A Critical Analysis’23  by Nweke O. Umezuruike. ‘The Law of Real Property in Nigeria’24  by Smith I. O, ‘Nigerian Land

Law’25 by Elias, ‘Nigerian Law of Real Property’26 by Utuama A.A.

From a historical point of view, certain scholars refer to the fact that conflicts resulting from cattle grazing have existed for as long as the practice of agriculture27. In the Nigerian context, however, colonization, together with the fall of the Sokoto Caliphate and the introduction of jangali (cattle tax), marginalized the Fulani and dispersed them further towards the South28 .


19 Ibid foot note 18

20 Daily Times May 12th, 1988

211983)4 NCLR 719

22 Sunday punch 18th August 1980.

23 The National Concord, 20th August, 1980 cit, in Hakeem Ijaya’s Land Use Act A critical Analysis in the Jurist, an Annual publication of the Law Students’ society of Nigeria University of Ilorin vol. 11 2006

24 See Tijani Akinloye v. Chief Oyejide suit No. HC3/9A/83 of 17/9/8

25 Ibid foot note 25

26 Nnamani, the Land Use Act II years after GRBPL, May 1989 p.31 cit. in Hakeem Ijaya Ibid footnote

271990) 2NWLR (pt 135) 745 at 784

28 Smith I.O., Ibid foot note 20

the advancement of farming by Adamu 29 through irrigation and the increased decimation of  pasture across the savannah also extended the scope of conflicts, through transhumance, to the coastal zones which were more ecologically viable30. This evolution for okello31 was complemented with the provision of affordable trypanocides, which provided a coping means for the herders in the tsetse-infested humid regions of southern Nigeria. Thus, the period from May to September, during the rainy season, has been identified as the intense period of clashes between pastoralists and farmers over arable land, when the Fulani return northwards with their cattle as the vegetation begin to appear.

These clashes result from the invasion of the arable land by the cattle during this peak season of crop production32.  The failure of the government in mediating such conflicts and setting up judicial commissions cannot be underestimated because it pushes communities to take the law into their own hands.

After the initiation of the first national livestock development project (NLDP) and the enactment of a grazing law by the Northern Nigeria Legislative Assembly in


29 Adamu, M.G., Notes on the grazing bill pp. 9-12

30 Okello AL, Majekodunmi AO, Malala A, Welburn SC, Smith J. Identifying motivators for state-pastoralist dialogue: Exploring the relationships between livestock services, self-organisation and conflict in Nigeria’s pastoralist Fulani. Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice. 2014;4(12):1-14.

31 (On 9 October, 9 2014).

32 Daily Times, 15th August, 1980 at p.6 cit, in Hakeem Ijaya Ibid footnote 28

1965, the authorities tried to provide grazing lands in order to make the nomadic Fulani sedentary33. In collaboration with organizations such as the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the objective was to enhance productivity and to demarcate 4,125 grazing lands across Nigeria, covering about 4.3 million ha, to kabir-white34 some of the lands are being equipped with boreholes, fences, fire breaks, veterinary services, access roads, and dams. The predominant types of ranches were to be individually owned by farmers with large investments; there were few options for cooperatives and a collective management of the herds. Since 2009, grazing routes have also been marked out through Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau, Kastina, Bauchi, Abuja, Sokoto, and Adamawa.

Every farming system such as nomadic cattle herding has a boundary, which separates it from the larger system, which make up the environment. The boundary represents the limits in the larger system. Obaseki35holds the view that Farmers increasingly compete with nomadic herders for farmland, pastures, water, trees and the use of rangeland in general . There is clear demarcation between different types of conflict in farmer-nomadic herder relations as suggested by Nnmani36, has


33 See Smith I.O. Ibid foot note 19

34 kabir-white JSC. Ajilo (1989) NMLR (pt.97) p.305

35 Obaseki JSC. The Judicial Impression of the Nigeria grazing Law

36Nnmani Ibid foot note 30

 likewise made a distinction between the various types of conflicts in farmer-nomadic relations. He differentiates between disputes among individuals and groups, conflict of interest and violent conflicts. While dispute refers to disagreement between two or more persons or groups, a violent conflict involves mayhem, the destruction and killing of persons and livestock, arising from a dispute37. A conflict of interest, on the other hand, is seen as the adoption of opposing views and concerns by different actors, which usually takes the form of non –violent competition, for control of resources in a given area. Farmer-herder differences are not only seen as resources conflict but are also sometimes represented as ethnic conflict involving the two groups. Since herder and farmer groups have very different values, customs, physical and cultural characteristics, disputes between them are frequently characterized as ethnic conflict38.

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