• Roaming cattle outlawed in Rivers, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Abia, Oyo …police divided on enforcement
• Legislation still in the works in Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Delta, A/Ibom, Enugu, Imo
• Edo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Cross River shun Forum decision
By Emma Amaize, Dayo Johnson, Anayo Okoli, Sam Oyadongha, Festus Ahon, Gabriel Enogholase, Egufe Yafugborhi, Emmanuel Unah, Harris Emanuel, Chioma Onuegbu, Davies Iheamnachor, Ozioruva Aliu, Vincent Ujumadu, Dennis Agbo, Peter Okutu, UgochukwuAlaribe, Chinonso Alozie, Chinedu Adonu, Steve Oko, Emmanuel Iheaka, Shina Abubakar, Rotimi Ojomoyela, James Ogunnaike and Deola Badru
Ahead of the Tuesday expiration of the deadline for all the 17 southern states to enact laws banning open grazing of cattle in the region, only five states namely Bayelsa, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti and Abia have complied with the decision.
In eight others, the authorities are at various stages of complying.
Whereas in Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Lagos states, the Houses of Assembly have passed relevant laws awaiting governors’ assent, in Enugu, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Delta, the law is still in the works in parliament.
Sunday Vanguard findings show that there is nothing on ground to indicate that anti-open grazing law is underway in Cross River, Ebonyi and Anambra states.
The 17 governors of the southern states had, in a meeting held in Lagos on July 5, 2021, urged all the states in the region to ensure that the legislation against open grazing of cattle is put in place on or before September 1.
The decision came after individual attempts to address the menace of open grazing in southern states failed as the governors under the Forum of Southern Governors, in one voice, announced a ban on loose cattle in all the 17 southern states.
They recommended that the Federal Government should support willing states to develop alternative and modern livestock management systems.
The governors also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency and importance, address Nigerians on the frightening state of insecurity across the nation and convoke a national dialogue.
In a resolution after the meeting, the forum explained the rationale for the ban on open grazing, stressing, “Development and population growth has 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.”
The governors collectively identified the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the southern part of the country as being at the root of the “severe security challenge such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives in the region”.
In a 12-point communiqué read by the Forum’s Chairman, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, at the end of its four hours meeting, the southern governors expressed displeasure with the worsening state of insecurity and noted that the situation revolves around agitations over restructuring, but affirmed that that the peoples of southern Nigeria remain committed to the unity of Nigeria.
Only two states in South-South region, Bayelsa and Rivers, have enacted laws prohibiting open grazing in compliance with the southern governors’ resolution to put regulations in place by September 1.
While lawmakers are still working on bills before Akwa Ibom and Delta Houses of Assembly with indication that the states would meet the September 1 cutoff date, there is no bill forwarded to both Edo and Cross River Houses of Assembly by their governors.
Gun toting herdsmen will face music – Diri
Bayelsa, which took lead among South-South states, enacted a law prohibiting open grazing of livestock in the state since March 10.
Governor Douye Diri assented to the Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing Regulation Law 2021, precisely March 10, shortly after the 24 member House of Assembly passed the bill same day.
Prohibits open grazing of livestock and other excesses of herders, and considers cattle rustling a punishable offence, among others, the anti-open grazing law will establish a committee that will be responsible for the registration and issuance of permits for livestock breeding; designate areas for such breeding activities; establish inspection posts for cows and other livestock coming into the state, the bill seeks to prevent a situation where one person’s business will jeopardize that of another person.
The law prohibits movement of cattle on foot from other parts of the country into the state, while providing for the inspection of livestock and certification by veterinary doctors at entry points into the state among others.
Signing the bill into law, Governor Diri said: “Bayelsa welcomes all and sundry to eke out a living legitimately. The people of Bayelsa want to have a mutual and harmonious relationship with non-natives and natives.”
“The essence of the law is to avert and forestall any clash between herdsmen, farmers, natives and non-natives as experienced in some states.”
The law, according to the governor, stipulates that any herdsman found with arms, whether licensed or not, should be arrested. He informed that the law also established a livestock management committee to regulate livestock activities in Bayelsa.
Open grazing outdated – Wike
In Rivers, Governor Nyesom Wike, penultimate Thursday, signed into law the state’s Open Grazing Prohibition, 2021.
The bill had been passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Speaking on the Open Rearing and Grazing Prohibition law, No.5 of 2021, Wike said it was inimical to development and peace for any state to condone open grazing of cattle.
He asserted that the law, which has specified ranching, is so intended in order to stem clash between herdsmen who destroy farmland, crops, and having problems with farmers that lead to fighting and killing of themselves.
‘Sept. 1 deadline will be met’
The anti-open grazing bill in Akwa Ibom House of Assembly is pending at the legislature at the time of this report, but member representing Etinan State Constituency and Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon. Aniefiok Dennis Akpan, gave assurance that the House would pass it before the September 1 deadline.
Akpan noted that it would not be a problem for them to meet the deadline, as the House had had situation in the past where they had to take the second and third readings of bills during one plenary.
Work in progress
The bill to prohibit open grazing in Delta State passed second reading on the floor of the House of Assembly some weeks back.
Christened ‘Delta State Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing Regulation’, the bill is sponsored by the member representing Ughelli South Constituency in the House, Hon. Reuben Izeze and 24 others.
It was overwhelmingly welcomed on the floor of the House and referred to the House Joint Committee on Special bills and Agriculture by the Speaker, Rt. Hon Sheriff Oborevwori.
Meanwhile, Section 8 (2a) of the draft bill recommends 5,000 square meters as designated areas, while Section 8(b) to (g) recommends an abattoir, veterinary clinic, livestock market, administrative office and security post.
But the Delta State Chapter of the Association of Livestock Dealers argued that the 5,000 square meters would be inadequate and asked that a minimum of 30,000 square meters of land be provided in each of the 25 local government areas of the state.
Chairman of the committee, Princess Pat Ajudua, said public hearing was to get inputs from stakeholders.
No anti- open grazing bill before House
In Cross River State, Sunday Vanguard spoke with the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Eteng Williams, who maintained that there was no anti-open grazing bill before the House.
He also said there was no likelihood or plan in the near future to initiate a law on the matter.
A source in the state Ministry of Agriculture, Calabar also stated that there was no urgent need to table one before the Assembly at the moment.
“The communal relationship between herdsmen and our people is cordial and our governor was not even in the meetings where those decisions were taken by southern governors, so there is no immediate plan to pass a law to stop open grazing in the state”, he said.
However, there are reports in the northern part of the state of invasion of farmland by herders and incidents of attacks on natives by herdsmen.
You will hear from us
In Edo, the state government was yet to present to the House of Assembly any bill to ban open grazing and there is no private member bill to that effect.
However, the state government has created a new Department of Animal Husbandry in the Ministry of Agricultural and Natural Resources.
A top government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “The state government is working on the issue. Very soon, you will hear from us”
Sunday Vanguard was informed that Governor Godwin Obaseki verbally spoke against open grazing, but checks at the House of Assembly showed that he sent no such bill.
Of the five states in the South-East, only Abia has put the law in place, according to Sunday Vanguard investigation.
In Enugu State, the bill to enact the law has just passed second reading in the House of Assembly.
Anambra and Ebonyi seem not to be keen in the law.
READ ALSO: Open Grazing Ban: Delta govt working towards Sept deadline – Okowa’s spokesman
Whereas Anambra claims it has a standing compensation arrangement for farmers and herders in case of destruction by either side, there is no bill in Ebonyi State House of Assembly to suggest that anti-open grazing law is underway in the state.
Report from Imo said the state House Assembly has commenced work on anti-open grazing law but explained that the bill is still at the first reading stage.
Meanwhile suspected herdsmen attacks have continued unabated in the region.
Law stepped down
Although Anambra State House of Assembly made attempt to pass a law against open-grazing, the law was later stepped down. The position of the state government is that it has a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ under which erring farmers and herders are expected to pay compensation in case of destruction of lives and property, and there is a joint task force for enforcement.
However, some residents who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, faulted the said agreement, arguing that it was wrong to equate human lives with cattle.
Mr. Adimora Nnalue, a community leader in Omor, Ayamelum local government area of the state, said there was no justification for the Anambra government not to have a law banning open grazing in view of the enormous destruction suspected herdsmen have caused in the state, particularly in Omambala area.
Nnalue said: “For years we have suffered so much in the hands of herdsmen who grazed openly on our farms and raped our women.
“Although we devised means of protecting ourselves from the herdsmen, we expected the state government to enact a law that would make it an offence for people to allow their cows to enter into farms and destroy crops.
“We were happy when a bill was introduced in the state House of Assembly on the matter, but our people were disappointed on hearing
that the bill was stepped down.
“The stepping down of the bill gave herdsmen the impetus to increase the tempo of their destruction of crops on our farms.
“We also thought that the mandate given by the southern governors for such a law to be promulgated in all states of the South would have made Anambra lawmakers to step up the fight against open grazing, but nothing seems to be happening.”
Although there was a drop in the rate of marauding of cattle in Anambra forests some months ago, the sight of cattle in many communities has become common in recent times.
Chief Emmanuel Okeke resident in Awka said the reason for the re-emergence of cows on Anambra roads was because herdsmen felt that government was protecting them, and they may be right.
The paramount traditional ruler of Abriba Kingdom, Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu, Enachioken Abiriba, expressed worry over the reluctance
of South-East governors to outlaw open grazing, saying that shows the level of disconnect between leaders and the led.
According to him, if leaders actually feel the pains of the people, they would hastily take actions to protect their interests.
In Enugu, the state House of Assembly has begun debate on a bill to ban open-grazing of animals in the state.
The leader of the House, Mr. Ikechukwu Ezugwu, introduced the Executive Bill for first reading on August 10, 2021.
Ezugwu told members that the bill seeks to regulate cattle ranching and to secure lives and property in Enugu.
The anti-open grazing bill has been slated for public hearing.
Speaker of the House, Hon. Edward Ubosi, directed the House Joint Committees on Agriculture, Judiciary and Security to conduct a public hearing on the open grazing bill.
According to Ubosi, the passage of the bill will give farmers the confidence to go back to their farms.
Leading debate on the bill, Ezeugwu argued that government couldn’t pretend to be ignorant of clashes between farmers and herders which, he said, have resulted in the destruction of lives and properties in the state.
The House Leader noted that security of lives and properties were the primary
responsibilities of government and said that the bill will ban the rearing of cattle in Enugu on foot. He explained that it would also be an offense for an underage child to rear cattle during school hours.
According to the lawmaker, anybody interested in rearing cattle should get land, and set up a cattle ranching, emphasizing that the era of open grazing was over in Enugu.
Bill at first reading stage
In Imo, the House of Assembly said it has commenced debate on its anti-open grazing bill.
Spokesperson for the House, Hon. Johnson Duru, representing Ideato State Constituency, confirmed this in Owerri.
Duru said the bill was at the first reading stage. He assured that the process would be actualized on time considering the importance of the bill to the members of the public.
No bill here
In Ebonyi, there is no sign that the state government wants to enact anti-open grazing law.
This was confirmed by the lawmaker representing Ivo State Constituency in the state House of
Assembly, Hon. Oliver Osi, who said that no bill has been forwarded to the legislature in that regard.
Herdsmen are seen on foot with their cows grazing in different parts of the state, apart from Afikpo North Local Government Area where the people came up with a law banning open grazing and killing of cows.
According to the people, if you must eat beef, kill the cow outside the LGA and then bring in the meat for consumption.
Osi, however, said the House was still expectant that an executive bill banning open grazzing would soon be sent to the House for consideration.
“For now, no law has been forwarded to the House in that regard, but
we are still expectant”, the lawmaker said.
A youth activist and former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Wing,
Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, on his part, urged the governors of the South-East to show greater commitment in the implementation
of the ban on open grazing of cattle in the region.
Isiguzoro, however, alleged attempts by the Federal Government to intimidate and frustrate governors from implementing the ban of open grazing of cattle in the region.
All eyes on Akeredolu
A report from Ondo State said the 26-member state House of Assembly passed the bill into law on July 9 after going through public hearing and other legislative procedures.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Hon. Gbenga Omole, told Sunday Vanguard that immediately the lawmakers received the bill from the executive, they started work on it.
Omole said, “A bill to that effect was sent to the House by the Executive.
“A public hearing has been held on it. It was sent to the committee and the bill has been passed after all the procedures were duly followed.
“The bill will become operational in the state after it is signed into law by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu”.
On his part, the Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Hon Taofeek Oladele, said the Bill to Regulate Security, Rearing and Grazing of Livestock and Establishment of Ranches will prevent destruction of farm crops in the state.
Oladele added that it will also 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.
Meanwhile findings show that the bill after it was passed into law was forwarded to the Executive.
The governor thereafter forwarded same to the Justice Ministry for legal inputs.
Sources said that the bill is still undergoing legal scrutiny hence the delay in signing it by the governor.
Anti-open grazing law in force
The Coordinator, Ekiti State Anti-Open grazing Agency, Major Tajudeen Awe, said the state anti-grazing law was signed into law by Governor Ayodele Fayose in 2016.
The law is entitled, ‘Prohibition of Cattle and Other Ruminants Grazing Law 2016″.
One of the key provisions provides: “No person shall cause or permit any cattle or other ruminants belonging to him or under his control to graze on any land in which the Governor has not designated as ranches”.
Another says: “The Governor shall by an order designate land in each Local Government in respect of which cattle or other ruminants may be permitted to graze.
“No cattle or other ruminants shall 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 prohibits herdsmen from carrying firearms and other offensive weapons, saying culprits shall be charged with terrorism.
Anyone who contravenes Section 6 of the law is liable on conviction to imprisonments for a period not less than six months without option of fine.
Awe expressed the readiness of the agency to implement the law and bring culprits to book.
Bill on governor’s table
In Ogun, the state House of Assembly has passed the bill to regulate animal grazing and the establishment of cattle ranches in designated grazing areas in the state and is awaiting Governor Dapo Abiodun’s assent.
A section of the bill prescribes three-year jail term without option of fine and including the forfeiture of the herds of cattle or livestock under his/her control to the state government except within the permitted ranches.
Banning open grazing of cattle, the bill gives room for establishment of ranches.
The bill was sponsored by Hon. Ganiyu Oyedeji representing Ifo II State Constituency.
He presented a report of the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry during plenary after which he moved the motion for the adoption of the report and seconded by Sola Adams (Ijebu East) and supported by the whole House.
No assent to passed anti-grazing bill
Osun State House of Assembly penultimate Thursday passed the bill against open grazing.
The bill, which is yet to be assented to by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, is titled, ‘Bill to Regulate Animal Grazing and Establishment of Cattle Ranches and Other Related Matters’.
According to the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Timothy Owoeye, the law will prevent the destruction of farms, crops by open rearing and grazing of livestock.
Once the bill is passed, Owoeye said it will prevent killings, sexual molestation, protect the environment from degradation and pollution caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock.
The bill states that any herdsman or group of herdsman who grazes herd or rear cattle or livestock outside permitted ranches after the commencement of this bill shall be guilty of an offence.
Part of the bill reads, “Any person or group who contravenes the provisions of sections 3(1) and (2) of this shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a terms of imprisonment of not less than 3 years without option of fine as well as forfeiture of the herds of cattle or livestock under his or her control to the state Government.
“A minor is prohibited from grazing, rearing or herding of livestock except under the supervision of an adult.
“A minor who contravenes the provision of Section 3 (4) committed an offence, and the guardian or parent of the minor or owner of the livestock as the case may be, shall be vicariously liable on conviction to a fine of N300, 000 only.
“Permits shall only be issued to a Nigerian who is authorized to conduct business under the Bill of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Preference shall be given in issuance of ranching permits to those within or near a district who are landowners interested in livestock business.
“Any herdsman or pastoralist who attacks or threatens to track any farmer, person or commuter whether or not injury is occasioned by the attack shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than one year without an option of fine.
“Conveyance of livestock on foot from one destination to another in the State is prohibited, except such movement is by Rail Wagon or Truck or pick-up wagon and is within 7:00am, to 6:00pm”
Red card for open grazing
In Oyo State, anti-open grazing bill has received assent by Governor Seyi Makinde and is operational.
The Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Muhammed Fadeyi, said the law bwcame operational in the state since 2019.
Fadeyi said: “So for us in Oyo State, open rearing and grazing is prohibited in the state, if you do it the laws are there to arrest you or the enforcers of the law are there to arrest you.
“So in Oyo, it has been fully operational since last year.
“We have genuine herdsmen in many parts of the state especially Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa and these people have lived all their lives there.
“Some of them don’t even know where they came from.
“We know some of them who are genuine and what we have been able to do is that the law provides for registration at the local government level for identification so that we can separate them from invaders and the role of traditional rulers and community leaders cannot be overemphasized in the law itself because each community knows who is who and it was agreed that community leaders should take responsibility aside the police and other security outfits.
“Part of the law allows for ranching. What you need to do is go to the Ministry of Agric and get a land or permit so that you can put your animals within a confined environment where they will not be roaming around and if you need to move them you need permit to do so by transportation and not by going through the bush path.
“The creation of Amotekun is a follow-up to the open rearing regulation law in Oyo State because what we felt was that Amotekun should be in a better position to curtail the movement of these people”
State govt preparing bill
Sunday Vanguard learnt that Lagos State government was still preparing the bill to be sent to the House of Assembly.
Police differ on enforcement
By Dayo Johnson, Rotimi Ojomoyela, James Ogunnaike, Ugochukwu Alaribe & Steve Oko
Findings by Sunday Vanguard on how the police would go about the enforcement of open grazing laws in Southern states revealed that state commands are divided on the issue.
While some weren’t explicit on whether they would implement the order, a few expressed readiness to implement any law made in their respective states.
The checks were mainly conducted in states where the anti-open grazing laws have been passed.
Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Zone 9, Mr. Kingsley Iredibia, said police commands in the zone would wait for directives from the Inspector General of Police concerning the implementation of the ban.
Abia, Imo and Ebonyi States are under Zone 9.
The zonal spokesman told Sunday Vanguard in Umuahia that police personnel in the zone were committed to keeping peace and security of lives and property.
In another conversation, Public Relations Officer of Abia State Police Command, Geoffrey Ogbnna, told Sunday Vanguard that the Command would cross the bridge when it gets to it.
He disclosed that the Command has a farmers/ herdsmen committee headed by the Commissioner of Police which also comprises other security agencies, traditional rulers, council chairmen, representatives of farmers, state government and MiyettiAllah Cattle Breeders Association.
Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti State Police Command, Sunday Abutu, expressed the readiness of the police in the state to implement any law enacted by the state House of Assembly.
Abutu added that the Command would work with the state government and other sister agencies including Amotekun corps to fight criminal elements.
According to him, “we are working with Ekiti State government to ensure full implementation of whatever law enacted for good governance and security.
“We are ready to comply with the directive and dictate of the law, including the anti-grazing law, which has been in force in the state.”
The spokesperson for Ondo State Police Command, Olufunmilayo Odunlami, was not specific in her comment on how the Command would go about the enforcement.
Odunlami simply said: “ We will cross the bridge when we get there.”
The PRO of Ogun State command, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the police as a law enforcement agency is ready to implement any law made by the state or federal government.
Once any law is passed and it comes to our knowledge, we must implement such a law.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.