• S/East states, Delta, Edo, Rivers yet to send bills to parliament
• C/River: No ban, we are at peace with herdsmen
By Dayo Johnson, Festus Ahon, Chioma Onuegbu, Rotimi Ojomyela, Shina Abubakar, Egufe Yafuborghi, Davies Ihemnachor, Adeola Badru & James Ogunnaike
Ever since the Southern Governors Forum, SGF, made the Asaba Declaration, banning open grazing, some state governors, especially in the South-East and South-South, are yet to send bills to their legislatures.
Findings by Sunday Vanguard revealed that of the three geopolitical zones in the South, the entire South-West except Lagos now has a law in place outlawing open grazing.
Ekiti, Osun, and Oyo had laws on open grazing before now while Ogun and Ondo states recently passed the bill into law.
In the South-South, Akwa Ibom State government had already forwarded a bill titled: Acquisition of Ranches , Grazing and Administration of Livestock Regulatory Bill, 2021, to the House of Assembly.
While Bayelsa passed its bill on March 21, 2021, Delta, Rivers and Edo are awaiting the proposed law from the executive.
In the South-East, Abia is known to have such a law while Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Anambra have yet to send the bill to their legislatures.
Southern governors had on May 11, 2021, met in Asaba where they resolved to ban open grazing.
The move was aimed at putting an end to the incessant killing of natives, especially farmers by nomadic herdsmen.
In what is now known as Asaba Declaration, the governors resolved: “that open grazing of cattle is banned across Southern Nigeria. Development and population growth have put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South. Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot).”
Last Monday, their position was also reiterated at the second SGF meeting in Lagos.
September 21 was chosen as the deadline for states in the southern region to promulgate laws banning open grazing.
Checks by Sunday Vanguard across the 17 states in the South showed that efforts were being made to send bills to legislative houses in most states where the law does not exist.
But it was learned that Cross River, whose governor was absent at the two SGF meetings, may not send any bill to its House of Assembly.
In places where anti-open grazing law had long existed, Sunday Vanguard observed that implementation is a big challenge.
Delta: House expecting bill
IN Delta State, the law for the enforcement of the ban on open grazing is not yet in place. But the state is desirous of it to safeguard the lives and property of its people.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State had last week said the bill would soon be sent to the state House of Assembly for passage into law.
Okowa, who stated this while reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence on recovering grazing routes for herders, said: “I think that is where the test of the federating units would be carried out.
The Governor who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr.Olisa Ifeajika, said:”The law already exists in some states. Benue has it. Ekiti has it. Our state is ready to take the bill to the House of Assembly.
“I will see how he (President Muhammadu Buhari) can stop them
”I know the governors of the southern states cannot go back on it. They are for a ban on open grazing and that they will do.”
Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, said the strike by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN, was the reason for the delay in passing the bill into law. Oborevwori who stated this while fielding questions from newsmen during a press briefing to mark the second anniversary of the seventh Assembly said the House was fully in support of the ban.
He said as soon as the House reconvenes, there would be a bill to back the pronouncement for the enforcement of the ban in Delta State.
Oborevwori said: “PASAN has been on strike since March 23, 2021, and you need a law to back that pronouncement. At the level of the Southern Speakers’ Forum, we are fully in support of the ban on open grazing.
“We believe that now that the House has resumed sitting, a bill will come. Let me assure all Deltans that we will urgently attend to the bill when it comes. It can come as an executive bill or a private member bill”.
C-RIVER: State may not make law
A source at the Ministry of Agriculture told Sunday Vanguard that there is no discord in the relationship between the herdsmen and natives.
The source added that: “The state government has not thought it necessary to place obstacles on the path of cattle rearers in the state in whatever form.
“Governor Ben Ayade did not attend any of the southern governors’ meetings where the decision to ban open grazing in the southern part of the country was taken and by implication he was not part of the resolution of that meeting.”
READ ALSO: Herders’ crisis: Northern governors must act
He said many people in the state rear cattle, adding that any ban or legislation to stop open cattle rearing may affect indigenes.
Mr. Ereng Williams, speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly, told Sunday Vanguard there is no legislation before the House on the issue.
AKWA IBOM: Bill scales first reading
In line with the agreement of SGF to ban open grazing including the movement of Cattle on foot in their states, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has commenced the process of giving legal backing to the ban.
The Akwa Ibom anti-grazing bill, which was sponsored by the lawmaker representing Mkpat Enin State Constituency, Mr. Victor Ekwere, and co-sponsored by 12 other state legislators, has already scaled first reading on the floor of the house.
It is titled: “Acquisition of Ranches, grazing and Administration of Livestock Regulatory Bill, 2021.”
The bill has the following objectives: “To prevent the destruction crop farms, community ponds, settlements and property by open rearing and grazing of Livestock, to prevent clashes between nomadic livestock herders and crop farmers; to protect the environment from degradation and pollution caused by open rearing and overgrazing of livestock.
“ To optimise the use of land resource in the face of overstretched land and increasing population, to prevent rustling, encourage, improve and support livestock farming in the state to create a conducive environment for large scale crop production.”
The proposed law obtained by Sunday Vanguard further stated: “The Livestock Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (in this bill referred to as “the Department”) is hereby vested with the powers to administer, regulate and control livestock in the state.
”On Ranching permit: The Department shall issue or cause to be issued permits, subject to the governor’s approval, to graze livestock on such ranches to Akwa Ibom citizens, residents and other livestock owners, under the Department’s rules and regulations are entitled to set up a ranch under the annual payment of a permit fee in each case to be fixed or determined from time to time by the Department.”
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, Chairman, House Committee on Information and member representing Etinan State Constituency, Dennis Akpan, said the House would be working with the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice on the bill.
“The bill is before the House now. The bill passed through first reading on June 23, 2021. After the first reading, we are going ahead with the second reading. There will be a public hearing to get the input of Akwa Ibom people.
“The state executive is concerned. The legislature is also concerned. We will do our best to ensure it is passed into law as soon as possible. And with the position of the southern governors, I don’t think there will be a delay in giving assent to it by the governor.”
ONDO: Law now operational
Weeks after Governor Rotimi Akeredolu forwarded a bill to regulate security, rearing and grazing of livestock and establishment of ranches to the state House of Assembly, the bill was subsequently passed into law after going through public hearings and other legislative procedures.
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Bamidele Oloyelogun, told Sunday Vanguard that immediately the lawmakers received the bill from the executive, they started work on it.
But for the recent strike by judicial officers, the bill would have been passed last month according to Vanguard findings. Speaking through the Chairman House Committee on Information, Gbenga Omole, the Speaker said a public hearing was done.
According to him,” now that the bill has been passed into law, it will now become operational in the state. The Chairman House Committee on Agriculture, Taofeek Oladele, while presenting the report on the bill to regulate security, rearing and grazing of livestock and establishment of ranches, observed that the bill, when passed into law, will prevent the destruction of crops in the state.
Oladele said that it would address clashes between herders and farmers, enhance the growth of livestock farming, prevent control and manage the spread of diseases and as well encourage modern techniques of animal husbandry.
EKITI: Bill passed into law under Fayose
Open grazing in Ekiti State was prohibited since 2016 during the administration of former Governor Ayodele Fayose. Ekiti State House of Assembly had in 2016, enacted the prohibition of cattle and other ruminants grazing law .
According to the law, “no cattle or other ruminants shall by any means move or graze at night. “Cattle movement and grazing are restricted to the hours between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm.
“No cattle or other ruminants shall graze on any land in which the Governor has not designated as ranches”.
The law equally prohibited herdsmen from carrying firearms and other offensive weapons, saying culprits shall be charged with terrorism.
It was stated clearly in the law that any person who contravenes any order made under section 2 or any rule made under section 6 of the laws, commits an offense and is liable on conviction to imprisonments for a period not less than six months without any option of fine.
The law became effective immediately after it was passed into law by the state House of Assembly. Governor Kayode Fayemi led administration in the state has demonstrated the political will to ensure the continued implementation of the law by putting behind bars herders who violated the law
The Coordinator, Ekiti State Anti-grazing Agency, Major Tajudeen Awe, said the law passed by the Ekiti State House of Assembly in 2016 is being implemented. He added that the agency has about 16 cases in court.
Awe said: “That is the law backing our agency. The law is in force and we are implementing it. Some of the cases we have in court are based on the anti-grazing law. We have over 16 cases that we are prosecuting through the police. We have some suspects in the prison”
OYO: Law existing since 2019
Anti-Open Grazing bill was signed into law in 2019 by Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Taiwo Adisa, told Sunday Vanguard.
According to him, “the Oyo State Anti-Open Grazing Law sees ranching as a personal business. Herdsmen are free to apply for land for that purpose.
“What the law permits is that nobody in the state should engage in open rearing or grazing of livestock outside the permitted ranches. A minor is prohibited from grazing livestock except under the supervision of an adult.
“Child herding is prohibited; open grazing is also prohibited. But there will be issuance of a permit by the state government for people that want to operate ranches and the land will be on lease for three years but it is renewable.
“Any person who wants to operate ranches will apply to the landowner. If he is satisfied, he will send the application to the Ministry of Agriculture and the ministry will inform the Ministry of Environment who will carry out environmental impact assessment.
“Once that is done, the application will be sent to the governor for approval. It means that herders have to get registered.”
OGUN: Three-year jail term for offenders
Ogun State government has commenced the process of enforcing the ban on open grazing by southern governors.
The State House of Assembly had passed the “Animal Grazing Regulation and Cattle Ranch Establishment Bill”, 2020″ into law.
A section of the bill prescribed a “jail term of not less than three years without the option of fine including the forfeiture of the herds of cattle or livestock under his/her control to the state government for anyone who rears, herd or graze any livestock in any part of the state except within the permitted ranches or anyone who rears cattle or livestock outside the permitted ranches after the commencement of the law”.
The law is expected to address the incessant clashes between herders and farmers in the state, which has led to the loss of lives and property in Ogun West .
OSUN: Livestock anti-roaming law may be amended
Osun State has a law against livestock roaming in place. Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, spokesperson for the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Kunle Alabi, said Osun has livestock anti-roaming law in place which may likely be amended to reflect the new challenge confronting the state.
“The state does not have an anti-grazing law and any bill to that effect has not been brought before it. But there is a livestock anti-roaming law which may likely be amended to take care of the current challenges,’’ he added.