✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters

Quit notices: What the law says about Land Use Act, freedom of movt

The furore generated by the quit notices given by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to cattle herders to evacuate the forests of the state…

The furore generated by the quit notices given by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to cattle herders to evacuate the forests of the state and the one given to Fulani herdsmen in Oyo State by an agitator, Sunday Igboho, have again brought to the fore the debates about the position of law on Land Use Act and that of freedom of movement as enshrined in the constitution.

Many have argued with relevant provisions of the law to support and against governor Akeredolu’s directive.

However, constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) in his article made available to Daily Trust explained that the Land Use Act of 1978 (LUA) has since laid the issue to rest as to who controls land in Nigeria.

“The provisions of Sections 1 and 2 of the Land Use Act, provides that ‘all land comprised in the territory of each state in the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of that State such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act,’” he said.

While stating that the Ondo governor has duly exercised his powers under the Land Use Act by giving the seven days quit notice to the herdsmen, which he described as constitutional and legal to tackle the increasing menace of crimes and violent acts faced in Ondo State forest reserves, “which the governor adduced as his reason for the order”, but he said that the power cannot be exercised indiscriminately.

He said the governor’s powers are only effective up to the extent that they do not arbitrarily affect a citizen’s fundamental rights under the 1999 Constitution, without resort to due process of law, citing Supreme Court decision in Abacha & Ors V Fawehimni (2000) LPELR-14(SC).

“No Governor can therefore unilaterally, arbitrarily, whimsically and capriciously order a group of people, tribe or religion to vacate, by fiat and ultimatum, any part of a state which they govern, without resort to due process and the law courts, as this will amount to encroaching on the fundamental rights of citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.” He argued.

“These rights include right to freedom of movement (section 41); right to freedom from discrimination (section 42); and right to own movable and immovable property (section 44). How fair and equitable is a seven-day quit notice from a habit where people have lived all their lives, some for decade? I think it is not!”

In his submission, E.M.D. Umukoro Esq said the provision of the Land Use Act implies that land belongs to the people of a state but vested on governor “to be held in trust for the people of that state.”

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees the right of freedom of movement of a citizen of Nigeria (not a foreigner).

“No state government or governor can order or sack any Nigerian citizen from any state except as allowed by law. In other words that the constitution provides for rights, the rights are not absolute.

“If a citizen constitutes his or self into a criminal element or become so violent as to endanger the public then the rights may be suspended and the law take it course. Everything must be done in accordance with the law except under an emergency situation.”