Ethnic cleansing is the systematic forced removal of ethnic or religious groups from a given territory by a more powerful ethnic group, with the intent of making it ethnically homogeneous. – Wikipedia
According to NAN, Alhaji Mahmud Bello, the National Coordinator, Grazing Stock Routes, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced that the Federal Government plans to demarcate 6,000km cattle routes across all parts of Nigeria in 2017.
Bello announced that the new plans will prevent indigenous owners of the lands that will be demarcated, from encroaching into the stock routes, grazing areas and selling those areas that have been mapped out as graving reserves (imagine that).
According to the official of the Federal Government which is supposed to promote justice, fairness and stability the lands would be handed over to the herdsmen.
It is very clear that Bello by making this announcement is flying a trial balloon to gage the reaction of the South (Igbos, Yorubas and Niger Deltans) to see how much opposition the policy would get, so that if their is minimal opposition, he can go ahead.
This policy is being floated since the grazing reserve bill which was widely rejected in the South was rejected by the South through their Governors, religious and political leaders, human rights activists and leaders of thought in social media (bloggers, Nairalanders, etc). The policy is unjust and aims to collect ancestral and ethnic lands from Southerners, given to them from time immemorial and hand it over to a profession dominated by one ethnic group in such a way that it would look like ethnic cleansing.
Southerners have said they are okay with commercial ranches by herdsmen, which will even make the herdsmen capture the African cattle market and bring glory and riches to them and to all Nigerians. But it seems some people are determined to force feed the unjust, unfair, land-seizing grazing reserve policy on Southern Nigerians. (What is wrong with commercial cattle ranching, biko nu? Oga o!) It will not work o!
The South must not relax in its human rights activism against this new policy, because Southerners are not slaves and therefore, deserve to live with dignity. They don’t deserve to have their lands seized from them that their ancestors (Eri, Oduduwa and other great men handed over to them to pass on to the descendants forever.
Someone cannot then come out and say that these lands were gazetted in 1962, in other to collect land that Eri, Oduduwa and other great ancestors of Southern Nigeria gave their children since time immemorial. The stage of settling on virgin land and declaring it as the homeland of an ethnic group in Nigeria has passed. The stage of capturing ethnic lands in the name of your ethnic group has also passed.
Nigeria is now in the stage of buying land from willing buyers anywhere and settling. But indigenes still have rights to their lands. When you come to a community and say you are demarcating land for a profession dominated by only one ethnic group, to US in the South it looks exactly like ethnic cleansing, which the International Criminal Court has described as a Crime Against Humanity. The Nuremberg trials executed lots of German Nazi leaders for acts of ethnic cleansing.
When the Serbs tried to chase away or kill Bosnian Muslims from their ancestral land of Bosnia, so that they can take over their lands, the world made sure that the Serbs were tried and jailed for that ethnic cleansing by the International Criminal Court. I pray it doesnt get to that because we see all Nigerians as our brothers and resent all attempts to divide US. So many German officials were executed by the International Criminal Court for ethnic cleansing. May Nigeria not have that kind of stain on its conscience.
I am appealing to lawyers from the South of Nigeria to prepare to challenge any power that tries to seize ethnic and ancestral lands of the indigenes of Southern Nigeria, whether Igbo, Yoruba or Niger Delta indigenes. Challenge it in the Magistrate courts, in the High Courts, In the Appeal Court, in the Supreme Court of the Land, in the ECOWAS Court, in the African Human Rights Court; and in the World Court and International Criminal Court if necessary. Now is a time to get ready to respond legally with unity if an attempt is made to seize your ethnic lands.
I encourage our political and religious leaders to think of future generations when resisting evil. don’t fail to speak out against injustice. If you are a Governor, remember that the laws of the land vest the Land Use Act in your hands. If you are a political or traditional ruler, do not sell your people’s future for nothing. Do not plant tears in the eyes of unborn generations.
I ask our leaders of thought (bloggers, Nairalanders, Facebook,Twitter and Whatsapp activists and other giants of social media) to defeat this new plan the same way they defeated the Anti Social Media Bill and the Grazing Reserve Bill- with your social media handles.
Our journalists use your editorials, articles, columns to uphold justice for the South and for all Nigerians. Yes we can. We must speak the truth to power.
A wise man once said, ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’. Frederick Douglas said, ‘If there is no struggle, their is no progress. Those who profess for freedom and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning.’
Let us not do wrong, but let us not be tired of doing right. I congratulate Nairaland activists for what they did in this thread: http://www.nairaland.com/3731850/fg-demarcate-cattle-routes-nationwide
We can promote justice on earth with our social media handles, with our writeups, with our legal advocacy. We must promote justice for ourselves and for all Nigerians because we can.