By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – A divided civil society groups on Monday held parallel demonstrations against the Edo State government on the bill against open grazing in the state which is currently before the state house of assembly as they alleged provisions in the bill that would make the government cede parts of the lands in the state for cattle rearing.
The leadership of Edo Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO) in a statement signed by its interim chairman and interim secretary, Bishop Osadolor Ochei and Comrade Keshi St. Lawrence said a public hearing should be initiated by the House Assembly to get inputs from the public as they expressed concern “on the percentage of communal or local government lands to be acquired for ranching which is between 10 to 20 per cent. We view this arrangement to be in line with the federal government’s plan in the establishment of National Livestock Transformation program codenamed RUGA in states that wants to key in, Edo state is believed to have keyed in after the meeting Edo state governor had with Mr President on same matter.”
In the same vein, another group, Network of Civil Societies Organisation of Nigeria (NOCSON) also visited the state house of assembly on what it termed fact finding mission to get clarifications on the same issue.
Receiving the groups, Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Hon Marcus Onobun said the house would make any law that would be detrimental to the well being of the people of the state.
He said “We cannot take any position outside the position of the people.
“As we all know we have been faced with farmers/herders clash, and not only in Edo state. Edo people want the anti-grazing passed so that our people, particularly farmers will have a sense of relief and have a fresh breath.
“To make issue very clear, we have been inundated with false reports and we have seen on social media an alleged composition of a certain percentage of land being ceded to people, I want to clearly state that it is not true; It is not part of the bill we received, it is not part of what we are treating and it is not going to be part of what we are going to consider.”
Also a statement by the Secretary to State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq said the bill had not been passed and urged civil society and members of the public in the state to suggest their inputs instead of organizing street protests that could cause breach of public peace.