By; MOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi
A Coalition of farmers and pastoralists of Zindiwa Community in Udubo district of Gamawa Local Government Area in Bauchi State has sued the state government over alleged allocation of 10,000 hectares of farmland to Tiamin Rice Limited, a rice processing company in the state.
The suit number BA/335/22 was filed before Justice Rabi Talatu Umar of the State High Court 1 by Mohammed Bello Yaba, Zindiwa Rice Farmers, cooperative society, against Tiamin Rice Limited, Ministry of Lands and Survey, Attorney General of Bauchi State and the Bauchi State Government.
They are seeking a declaration that the declaration of the land No 39236 Ba/41488 registered on sheet 85SE 20/04/22, 10,000 hectares of land part of government No 3 Udubo Grazing Reserve Order 1986 to Tiamin Rice being a private company with registration No 1369736 is illegal, null and void, and of no effect having not complied with the due process of the law.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the state government did not validly reserve government No 3 Udubo Grazing Land prior to the allocation of the land to the company, and to grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents or privies, assigned cohorts or any person acting for them or on their behalf from entering into remaining upon parceling alienating, or tempering how so ever with the plaintiffs’ land giving to them as permit holders.
In a motion expertise filed by counsel to the plaintiffs, Barrister Muhammad Alqasim said the plaintiffs are the indigenous and native communities of Zindiwa whose forefathers owned the vast reserve area which now form part of the grazing reserve.
Council recalled that in 1986 the then Bauchi State Government promulgate a law declared their forefathers land as No3 Udubo grazing reserve, after the promulgation the law, the plaintiffs’ forefathers were granted permit holders of vast area of the land to useful farming and pasturing.
Counsel said that the first defendant approached the plaintiffs in April 2021and told them that he had acquired the land which is part of the grazing reserve, and alleged that apart from the 10,000 hecters, the defendant is now clearing additional 5,000 hecters, and without conducting environmental impact assessment, 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.
When the case came up for mention, counsel to the first defendants, Saidu Muhammad Tudun wada filed a preliminary objection and asked the court to dismiss the suit in its entity 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 made by the executive governor of a state in Nigeria in the exercise of their exclusive powers including the Governor of Bauchi State.
He explained that the plaintiffs don’t have any existing personal right over the 10,000 hecters of land situated in Udubo, Gamawa local Government Area because they are not tenan, 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.
Counsel said that Tiamin rice paid the Federal Ministry of Environment the sum of N275, 000 fees cost for inter-alia workshop and field data gathering in respect of the environmental impact assessment, and the company also paid additional N211, 000 as assessment fee to the same Ministry and the Tiamin rice carried out all the necessary legal steps for the commencement of the land mark and expansive of the Rice Irrigation Project in the area.
He argued that the Tiamin rice is the first large scale industrial and mechanized farming expedition carried out in Bauchi state and that same will produce job to about 100,000s person including farmers, mill workers and professionals, and its activities will not affect the herders’ activities in Bauchi state, and the permit given to herders to graze their cattle is not tantamount to ownership of the said land.
When the case was mentioned the Presiding Judge, Justice Rabi Talatu Umar adjourned the suit to 15th February 2022 for continuous hearing.