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Southern, Middle Belt leaders raise alarm over attempts to repeal Land Use Act



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The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum, SMBLF, has raised the alarm that there was a surreptitious plan by the Federal Government to repeal the Land Use Act and take over the control of lands from state governors.

This, according to the forum, was to enable the government to subsequently implement the suspended Ruga project.

The forum further claimed that it gathered that the Federal Government suspended the Ruga settlement programme due to the Act which restricted its access to land, adding that the government might move to repeal the law in order to facilitate the implementation of the Ruga grazing scheme.

The forum, therefore, cautioned southern lawmakers in the National Assembly to be vigilant and to guard against the introduction of any bill intended to repeal or amend the Land Use Act.

The SMBLF stated this in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by its co-spokespersons, Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South-East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South), Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle-Belt), adding that it was not in any way impressed by the suspension of the Ruga settlement project, which it declared as an expansionist agenda on behalf of the Fulani nomads.

The statement read in part: “It is being alleged that there will be moves to repeal the Land Use Act in the (Ruga) suspension period so the Federal Government can have authority over land which is currently under the states.

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“We therefore call on all our members in the National Assembly to be vigilant about any surreptitious bill that may be introduced to tamper with control of land and thwart such without any waste of time. The 2014 National Conference debated this issue at length and resolved to retain the Land Use Act in the constitution.”

The forum called on lawmakers not to pass the ‘Bill to establish a Regulatory Framework for the Water Resources Sector in Nigeria,’ sponsored by the executive, saying that it was meant to give the Federal Government the sole authority and control over the nation’s rivers and underground water.

“When this obnoxious Water Bill is taken alongside the Ruga programme and the speculated assault on Land Use Act, the internal colonialism agenda is complete.

“It is pertinent to ask why the Federal Government is not going ahead with Ruga in some northern states that have accepted the policy if the whole idea was not about land-grabbing in the South and Middle Belt states”, it said.

The political pressure group stated that the Federal Government’s support for local government autonomy was hinged on the Ruga scheme to allow aliens to take over allotted land under the programme.

The SMBLF vowed not to relax its opposition to the project, insisting that only outright cancellation of the initiative was acceptable to the forum.

“The whole policy has equally opened our eyes to the reason why the President has been harping on local government autonomy now and then,” the group stressed.

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