Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has asked the federal government not to confuse the people by renaming cattle ranches as colonies.
Killings by herdsmen in various parts of the country led the government to propose the establishment of cattle colonies.
Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture, who said the establishment of the colonies will take effect this week, made a strong case for the project.
“When we spoke of colonies, we were immediately greeted with reactions that this was an attempt to cease Nigeria’s land and give to the Fulanis to colonise,” Ogbeh had said.
“The intention is not for Fulanis or anyone to colonise any territory. Colonies and ranches are the same thing in many ways except that a colony is bigger than a ranch.
“In Colony 20, 30 ranchers can share the same colony, a ranch is usually owned by an individual or company with few numbers of cows, in a cattle colony you could find 100, 200, 300 cows owned by different individuals.”
Reacting in a statement, Falana said referring to the closed grazing project as colonies might mislead herders to think they can colonise the states they are given lands to ranch.
He said Ogbeh had proposed the idea of ranching for over a year but it was “jettisoned to the detriment of peace and stability of the nation”.
“But having lost thousands of people and destruction of properties worth billions of naira in avoidable clashes between farmers and herdsmen in several parts of the country the federal government has now decided to establish the ranches,” Falana said.
“While this belated decision is a welcome development, Chief Audu Ogbe should be restrained from causing confusion by giving the misleading impression that the federal government intends to allow owners of cattle to colonise the states that have donated land for the establishment of ranches.
“In other words, Chief Ogbeh should not be allowed to sabotage the establishment of the ranches with his pet project of ‘Cattle Colonies’.
“Since a ranch is a large area of land acquired for raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for the production of meat the proposed, ranches should not be called ‘cattle colonies.”