The legal basis for establishing grazing reserves was enacted by the then Northern Regional Government as Grazing Reserve Act of 1965. It was made as one of the policy measures to address some of the constraints confronting livestock development in the country. It was also in response to the problem of alienation of grazing lands increasingly being faced by the pastoral population at the time. In a wider context, the law for the enactment of grazing reserves was established not only to encourage nomadic/transhumant pastoralists to adopt a sedentary lifestyle through legally secure titles to grazing, water and, in general, as one means to boost livestock production, ease herding challenges and reduce seasonal migrations of herdsmen, but also to protect grazing lands from crop farming and provide easier access to them by pastoralists.
Accordingly, one of the grazing reserves created by virtue of the Grazing Reserve Act of 1965 is the Kachia Grazing Reserve popularly referred to as ‘Ladugga’ and gazetted on April 26, 1996 via the Kaduna State Grazing Reserves Law (Cap 62, 1991; – The Grazing Reserve Order, 1996.
However, the matter was not only about creating the Reserve, so, regulations and restrictions were also contained in the Gazette stating what may or may not be done on the Reserve, with the salient points spelt out clearly:
- A committee shall be established for each Reserve to be known as Reserve Management Committee with members comprising: (a) a Chairman to be nominated by a Local Government Council; (b) Secretary who shall be the officer in-charge of the Reserve; (c) two members to be nominated by the Commissioner of Agriculture, Animal and Forest Resources; (d) one member to be nominated by the Local Government Council and; (e) five permit holders to be selected by the Local Government Council, and provided that where there are insufficient number of permit holders in the Reserve to provide for the five members the remaining shall be well known cattle breeders in the District.
- Any person wishing to bring any animal into the Reserve shall obtain a permit to do so from the Chief Animal Husbandry Officer of the state for the purpose; no permit shall be granted under the Regulation or renewed unless the application has been approved by the committee. Another function of the committee also is to approve application for permit; and the permit shall be for a period of twelve months unless renewed before the expiration of the twelve months; a fee shall be paid for such permit, and the permit can be revoked by the Chief Animal Husbandry Officer or any officer duly authorised by him.
- No person other than a Government Officer on duty shall enter into a Government Reserve unless he is so authorised in writing by the officer in-charge; any person found within the boundaries of a Reserve in violation of the Regulation shall be instructed to leave by the officer in-charge of the Reserve and refusal to heed to such instruction shall constitute an offence; the officer in-charge of the Reserve or any authorised staff may use any reasonable force to eject the person from the Reserve in addition to charging him for an offence; no person other than a permit holder shall cause or allow his animals to enter into a Government Reserve; no person other than a permit holder shall farm on any part of the Reserve; any permit holder wishing to farm on a Reserve shall only do so in those areas defined according to the Regulations.
And to the adjoining communities of Kurmin Biri, Angwan Mallam Musa, Angwan John, Sabon Kaura, Aduma, Idon, and other smaller villages around the Reserve, the Order confer on them the following Rights:
- (i) the right to take in quantities sufficient only for personal domestic requirement of the right’s holder but not for sale or barter, and provided there is no interference with other vegetation, e.g., tree felling and bush burning; the right to fetch death wood for fuel;
- (ii) the right to fetch fruits from cultivated trees and plants such as Dorowa (Parkia Clappertonia), Dinya (Vitex don ana), Kadanya (Butyios Permum Parkii), and others.
Be that as it may, conflicting figures have been bandied about as to the specific size of the Reserve, as well as the purpose for establishing it. According to one report, the Reserve has the size of 88,411hectares as officially gazetted in 1996 by the Kaduna State Government. Barrister Solomon Musa, the President of Southern Kaduna Peoples’ Union, SOKAPU, in an interview said: “From an earlier 30,000 hectares, it has been increased to 70,000 hectares under this government.” For the Senator representing Southern Kaduna senatorial zone, Danjuma La’ah, he said in a Press Statement he personally issued on January 23, 2018: “Already, there is an existing Cattle Grazing Reserve in Laduga from lands taking away from indigenes of Zangon Kataf and Kachia Local Government Areas dating back decades ago. That massive land officially gazetted at 32,000 hectare, (32,000 football fields), but which the present Kaduna State government has expanded to 74,000 hectares was taken from my constituents without compensation till date, as records have it.”
So, the question is: is the size of Kachia (Laduga) Grazing Reserve 88,411; 74,000; or 70,000 hectares? The answer is No! The actual size of the Reserve according to the only Government Gazette of 1996 is 33, 411 hectares! Therefore, any attempt or claim from whatsoever quarter bandying a different figure from the 33, 411 hectare can be interpreted as a cunning deception to gerrymander the size of the Reserve. And till date, Ladugga is a source of tension between the natives and herdsmen, who have been asserting their “ownership rights” over the Reserve and even beyond. However, it is very instructive to note that, as the Reserve stands today, it is in most cases not occupied based on what the law establishing it stipulates.
The Grazing Reserve is divided into six blocks and has a District Head and eight Village Heads located at Wuro Nyako, Nassarawa; Wuro Fulbe; Wuro Modi; Wuro Saleh, Tilde Bayero; Mayo Borno, and Ladduga. Hence, bringing to fore another question of whether or not the inhabitants of the so called grazing reserve, which by some estimates are about 50,000 – plus or minus – are there for the purpose of grazing; or, how many of them have been given permits to settle there, and by who?
“The Fulani have put up solid structures in the Reserve, but that is not our major problem; they are also putting up such structures beyond the boundary indicated on the Gazette. That is not all; they are also farming on lands that are not gazetted without our permission, and if we talk they say “Government has given us the land” without showing any evidence. We are not contesting over the gazetted portion, but we still hold it that other parts outside the gazetted 33, 411 hectares still belong to us; it is our ancestral land.
“In November, 2014 they encroached into my farm, and when I protested they threatened my life. Now I can no longer go to that farm. And despite the order by the Kaduna State Government banning the felling of trees, I can tell you that felling of trees there is the order of the day. Even economic trees are being pulled down; one of my Dorowa tree was pulled down by them, and I took the case to court and I was told the same thing: that government has given them the land! There are so many of such cases, which were either reported to the Police or taken to court with the same result,” Mr. Gambo Magaji lamented.
Barrister Musa, the SOKAPU President insists that the quest for Southern Kaduna land, through the creation of grazing reserves is a deliberately crafted subterfuge for annexing of indigenous peoples’ lands.
“There are three ways they are deploying to take our lands from us. The first is expropriating our lands and giving it to the Fulani. The second is that if we resist, we would be killed and chased out. The third is that we shall be kept under perpetual intimidation until we run away from our lands on our own.
“In Kaduna State, you could see that it was deliberately crafted not only to take over our lands, but to supplant new, exclusive Fulani settlements for future expansion and all its future consequences.
“Though approved for only grazing at certain times of the year, and not for erection of permanent structures, Laduga has become a permanent town of its own, complete with a District and its administration on lands of the people without a penny paid them for compensation since the place kicked to life in, I think 1996 or so.
“Can you define injustice more than this? – Barrister Musa questioned.
It is no longer news that the move at establishing grazing reserves is seen as part of territorial aggression and conquest by a section of the country which is unacceptable to other parts. Now, for the benefit of peace, unity and prosperity, there is nothing wrong with grazing reserves, but it should not mean that the government would go out of its way to misappropriate peoples’ land.
And the created impression that government is giving special preference to a certain category of Nigerians, and also non Nigerians does not augur well for the peace of the country. Land remains an inalienable asset to any community. That explains why people are ready to shed their blood to protect their land.
The adjoining communities in Zangon Kataf, Kachia, and Kajuru Local Governments Areas, whose ancestral lands were expropriated, have instituted legal proceedings at the High Court in Kafanchan since early last year asking for two prayers. One, which is that the Reserve be restricted within the confines of the 33, 411 hectares that is contained in the Gazette; and two, compensation be paid to them for the annexed 33, 411 hectares! However, the case was first mentioned on August 23, 2018 – about one and half year after it was instituted – and hearing adjourned to October 10, 2018.
Meanwhile, the article by Professor Zakariah Gundu of the Department of Archaeology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, entitled: “History Class On Grazing Reserves: Why Fulani Herdsmen Want Your Land,” has disambiguated the vexed issue and given a useful insight into the grazing reserves phenomenon, which should jolt the foot-dragging elites of the areas concerned.
In the article, Gundu postulates that grazing reserves are not a transparent or efficient way of regulation and reforming livestock production in the country, saying that even in parts of the country with high livestock population, the idea of grazing reserves has been virtually rejected, adding that (the) grazing reserves in Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Bauchi, Kano and Borno have all been effectively abandoned.
“It is becoming clear to the discerning mind that the bloody push for grazing reserves outside the cattle producing states of the country is not more than a devious attempt to secure usufructuary rights to land and exploit the political opportunities that such rights may confer on the Fulani. The Kachia Grazing Reserve as a template illustrates this point clearly. Established in 1963, it became a strategic enclave for the Kachichera Fulani who had settled in Southern Kaduna since the Fulani Jihad of 1804.
“As agro-pastoralists, the Kachichera were still considered as ‘visitors’ in Southern Kaduna by the indigenous nationalities of the area. The Kachia reserve was established as a political masterstroke to give them a window of opportunity in the area. They moved into the reserve from places like Kurmin Biri, Abet, Zagon Kataf, Zonkwa, Ungwan Rimi and Kagoro to secure usufructuary rights to the land and today, they have stepped up demands for a Ladduga chiefdom. It is noteworthy that up to this day, the indigenous people whose lands were appropriated for the Kachia reserve are yet to be compensated… The grazing reserve concept is a simplistic answer to the challenge of livestock development in the country. It is an answer that is politically suspicious,” Gundu wrote.
Written by Ishaku Yohanna