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Farmers sue Bauchi govt over 10,000ha of allocation

A group of farmers and pastoralists from Zindiwa community in Udubo district of Gamawa Local Government Area of the Bauchi State has sued the state…

A group of farmers and pastoralists from Zindiwa community in Udubo district of Gamawa Local Government Area of the Bauchi State has sued the state government over an alleged allocation of 10,000 hectares of farmland to Tiamin Rice Limited.

The suit, with number BA/335/22, was filed before Justice Rabi Talatu Umar of the State High Court, number one, by Mohammed Bello Yaba, Zindiwa Rice Farmers Cooperative Society, against Tiamin Rice Limited, Ministry of Lands and Survey, attorney-general, Bauchi State and the Bauchi State Government.

In a motion filed by counsel to the plaintiff, Muhammad Alqasim, the plaintiffs are said to be indigenes of Zindiwa, whose forefathers owned the vast area, which now forms part of the grazing reserve.

Alqasim said the first defendant approached the plaintiffs in April 2021and told them that he had acquired the land, alleging that apart from the 10,000 hectares, the defendant is now clearing additional 5,000 hectares without conducting environmental impact assessment, and commenced work on the said land by clearing, blocking cable routes, water points in the reserve and power activities, which caused erosion, flooding and other environmental damages.

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When the case was mentioned, counsel to the first defendants, Saidu Muhammad Tudun Wada filed a preliminary objection and asked the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety for want of jurisdiction, as no court of law has the jurisdiction pursuant to 1999 constitution as amended or the land use act 2004 to inquire to the rightfulness and legitimacy of allotment of land may by the executive governor of a state in Nigeria  in the exercise of their exclusive powers, including the governor of Bauchi State.

He said the plaintiffs didn’t have any existing personal right over the 10,000 hectares of land situated in Udubo Gamawa Local Government Area because they are not tenants, just like any other herder has a permit to graze on the said land. And the suit is not justifiable because it didn’t disclose a valid cause of action against the first defendants.

The counsel said Tiamin Rice paid the Federal Ministry of Environment the sum of N275,000 fees as cost for interalia workshop and field data gathering in respect of the environmental impact assessment. The company also paid an additional N211,000 as an assessment fee to the same ministry and Tiamin Rice carried out all the necessary legal steps for the commencement of the landmark and expansive rice irrigation project.

When the case was mentioned, the presiding judge, Justice Rabi Talatu Umar, adjourned to February 15, 2022 for hearing.