The governors of the 17 states in Southern Nigeria have declared their resolve to proceed with the ban on open grazing of cattle in their states, saying there is no going on the resolution made at their meeting in Asaba, Delta State, in May this year.
To beat the September 1 deadline for the southern to sign the anti-open grazing law, chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum and Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), yesterday signed into law the Anti-Grazing Bill passed by the State House of Assembly.
A statement by the state commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, noted that Akeredolu signed the bill into law in his office.
Akeredolu said, “The move is in line with the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum at its last meeting in Lagos where September 1st was set as the deadline for Governors in Southern Nigeria to sign the Anti-Open Grazing Bill into law.
“This is worthwhile and a very laudable development aimed at stemming needless instances of skirmishes, conflicts as well as infractions on the enviably peaceful disposition of the good people of Ondo State.
“It is very pertinent to aver and reiterate that the Law shall rather, engender a more cordial, mutually benefiting relationship amongst residents of the state irrespective of ethnicity, religion or creed. For emphasis, no particular group of persons is the target.
“While the government hopes that all residents would take ample advantage of this Law to enhance our socio-economic well-being in Ondo State, compliance of the same shall be given the utmost attention. Government shall pursue with vigour, through lawful means, to ensure strict compliance.
“In this regard, details of the new Law shall be made available to the public for proper information, more depth of understanding on contents as well as other relevant areas.”
In the same vein, the chairman of South-South Governors’ Forum and Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has said that the law prohibiting open grazing ban in the state will take its course.
The Delta state government has already enacted the law to prohibit open grazing in the state; the bill has been passed by the State House of Assembly and ready for the governor’s assent.
Okowa who spoke through the state commissioner of Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP in Asaba, said the constitution grants governors the power over land in their respective states.
While urging the federal government to have a rethink, he said, “We are in a country of law and the law has granted governors to have control of land in their states. The governor is the one who gives Certificate of Occupancy to every individual who wants to possess land and have full ownership.
“We are convinced that very soon the federal government will begin to have a rethink, knowing full well that it is not legal for Mr President to be the one to map out land in the states.”
On whether the governors would go to court over the mapping of land for grazing in their states, he said the southern governors will also meet on the next line of action.
Also, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has assented to the Anti-Open Grazing Law, making it a criminal offence for anyone to engage in open-grazing in any part of the state.
Signing the bill into law recently at Government House, Port Harcourt, Wike said it was inimical to development and peace for any state to condone opening grazing of cattle.
He said, “Cattle rearing is agricultural business and the law, which has specified ranching, is so intended in order to stem clashes between herdsmen who go to destroy farmland, crops, and having problems with farmers that lead to fighting and killing of themselves.
“It is no longer a story. All of us know what our people have suffered in terms of this open grazing. Today all Nigerians have come to accept the reality that open grazing is no longer fashionable. Even our brothers in the north have agreed that it is no longer fashionable.”
In Ogun, the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun yesterday declared that he will deploy security operatives, including the police, Amotekun Corps, SO-SAFE Corps as well as operatives of other relevant agencies to enforce necessary laws on livestock grazing across the state.
Abiodun’s chief press secretary (CPS), Kunle Somorin, who spoke with LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abeokuta, the state capital, said though the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA) has passed the Bill which criminalises open grazing anywhere in the state into law, Governor Abiodun is however yet to sign the Bill into law to enable it function in a proper way.
Somorin explained that the governor had been delaying signing it into law because the state intends to first of all carry out a sensitisation exercise with all stakeholders in the livestock business across the state before appending his signature on the Bill and making it effective.
“The anti- grazing bill has been passed by the Ogun State House of Assembly with the establishment of cattle ranches in some designated grazing areas in the state. A section of the bill prescribed a three-year jail term without an option of fine including the forfeiture of the herds of cattle or livestock under his/her control to the state government except within the permitted ranches,” he stated.
On its part, the Oyo State government has threatened to ensure a ban on open grazing with effect from today.
The special adviser on media to Governor Seyi Makinde, Jide Ajani, in an interview with LEADERSHIP insisted that there is a law in the state banning open grazing.
He recalled that Oyo was one of the states that signed the bill into law.
In Ekiti, the state government maintained that anti-grazing law has been in existence in the state since 2016.
The state government said the law which was enacted under the former Governor Ayodele Fayose administration was put in place to check the incessant clashes between herders and farmers in the state.
It criminalises carrying guns by herders and cattle grazing on unauthorised places.
The coordinator of the Ekiti State Grazing Management Programme, Major Tajudeen Awe (rtd) said, “It is only for the southern states who are yet to pass and implement the anti-open grazing law.
“For Ekiti, the law was enacted a few years ago and enforcement has been ongoing since then. There are two bills, the first was in 2016 and the second was 2018”.
Also, the Akwa Ibom State government has said it was ready for the ban on open grazing.
Speaking with our correspondent in Uyo yesterday, the Akwa Ibom state commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Glory Edet, said the state is ready for the of ban on grazing or ranching route.
She explained the legislation on the issue by the state House of Assembly is yet to be perfected and is still at the committee level.
“What I will rather say now is to re-echo the earlier position of all the southern state governors, including Akwa Ibom, who in their wisdom rejected in totality the idea of open grazing within their domains. So, our position in Akwa Ibom is that we are not preparing for any grazing for Fulani herders and their cattle,” she stated.
She explained that though the state is yet to legislate on the matter, it will do so in no distant time.
“What I am saying is that the state government is implementing the decisions of the southern governors on open grazing,” she added.
The Imo State government said it is working in uniformity with the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum in respect of the ban on open grazing, effective from September 1, 2021.
This position was made known by the state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon Declan Emelumba.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP, Emelumba said the relationship between the farmers and herders in the state had been very cordial, adding that there is no cause for alarm.
He reiterated that the state government believes in mutual co-existence, revealing that the mutual relationship between herders and people of the state will continue, nurtured and sustained.
In Enugu, the commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Mathew Idu whike, said the bill which came up at the state House of Assembly yesterday has passed first and second reading.
LEADERSHIP gathered that at the public hearing on the issue in Enugu yesterday, most of the stakeholders who spoke supported the implementation of the ban on open grazing.
It was gathered that the house may likely reconvene before the end of this week for further legislative action on the bill.
Meanwhile, leaders of the cattle breeders association, Miyetti Allah, has asked the Enugu State House of Assembly to give them more time to make input in the anti-grazing bill before the state House of Assembly.
In his contribution during the public hearing on the law to prohibit open Grazing and regulate cattle ranching, Head of Miyetti Allah in the South East, Alhaji Gidado Idris, asked the Enugu State House of Assembly committee on Agriculture, Ethics and Privileges to give them one month to deliberate on the bill to make their own submission.
The House came up with the bill following public outcry in the state over killings, maiming, and destruction of farm lands by herders in different communities in the state.
But commenting on the bill that has passed first and second reading the organisation pleaded for more time to inform their people on the new development.
“Honourable chairman, we are requesting that 30 days be given to us so that the elders and members of Gan-Allah Development Association of Nigeria (DAFDAN) can be briefed about this development.
“It is of very important for our members and elders to be aware of this development in order to avoid some doubts or misconception that the government of Enugu State has given huge amount of money and we fail to communicate or inform them about the new development, ” the pleaded.
Ahead of the September 1 deadline issued by the Southern Governor’s Forum to commence the ban on open grazing across the Southern states of Nigeria, Ebonyi State commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Moses Ogodo-Ali, yesterday said there is no single Herdsman in the state currently.
Chief Ogodo-Ali told LEADERSHIP that since the herdsmen left the state, they are yet to return following the state government directive that they should not return to the state for now.
He stated: “The Southern Governor’s Forum gave deadline to commence the ban on open grazing but I want to tell you that there is no single Herdsman in Ebonyi today and we said they should not come back.
“We don’t want them in our state for now, especially now that the state is into serious farming session. We don’t want to see any obstruction because farming is the only livelihood of our people.
“Our governor recently made it clear to the federal government that we don’t have land for any ranching and open grazing. That’s the position of the governor; that’s the position of government and same is the position of the people of the state”.
Meanwhile, the ban on open grazing is not likely to commence in Anambra State today as the state is yet to enact it.
When contacted on phone yesterday, the state commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Don Adunuba said he had not been briefed on anything concerning ban on open grazing law.
Also, the chairman of the Anambra State House of Assembly committee on Information, Hon Okechukwu Okoye, told LEADERSHIP that he was not aware if the state assembly has passed any law against open grazing.
He said “We are on holiday now. I can’t confirm that the House of Assembly has passed the anti-open grazing law”.
The chief press secretary to Abia State governor, Barrister Onyebuchi Ememanka, said the administration stands with the southern governors on the ban against open grazing in the southern states.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP in his office at Government House, Umuahia, the capital, he said, “Of course, Abia was one of the first states in the country to take that position long before the forum took the stand.”
Ememanka who pointed out that Governor Ikpeazu had since signed into law the bill on ban on open grazing in the state, added swiftly: “So, essentially there had been a law in the state against open grazing before now.”
Although the Osun State House of Assembly has passed a bill banning open grazing in the state, it cannot be enforced from today until it is signed into law by the state governor.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Osogbo yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Kunle Alani, said the state House of Assembly has forwarded the bill outlawing open grazing to the governor for his accent.
He noted however that the bill cannot be enforced until the governor appends his signature on it.
Allow Enforcement Of Law, Afenifere Urges FG
Meanwhile, the pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has warned the federal government against frustrating the effective enforcement of the anti-open grazing law.
The organisation’s national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said, “As the reality begins to dawn that there would no longer be a room for allowing cows to roam about anyhow the federal government might be tempted to want to use its might to frustrate the efforts of states governments in this regard.”
He said the government could do this by using the police and other security agencies to undermine the enforcement of the said law.
The spokesman however warned that doing so might be compounding the already bad security situation in the country.
Katsina Bans Interstate Movement Of Herders, Niger Closes Cattle Market
Meanwhile, the Katsina State government has banned the sale of animals in all markets in 11 local government areas of the state.
The state government also banned the movement of cattle trucks from Katsina State to any state in Nigeria.
The state government also closed the Jibia-Gurbin Baure road and Kankara-Sheme road to all motorists with immediate effect.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari who signed the order in a notice obtained by our correspondent yesterday said the measures came into force yesterday, adding that the state government took the action to curtail security challenges in some parts of the state.
The governor also banned carrying three persons on motorcycles and more than three passengers on a tricycle.
Others include the ban on the sale of second-hand motorcycles at Charanchi Market; re-enforcement of the ban on the operation of commercial tricycles and motorcycles from 10.00 pm to 6.00 am in the state capital, and 6.00 pm to 6.00 am in the frontline councils, as well as the re-enforcement of the ban on the sale of petrol in jerricans at filling stations.
The governor also announced the “immediate closure of Jibia-Gurbin Baure Road to motorists until further notice. Travellers plying that road are advised to go through Funtua.
Similarly, as part of measures to address security challenges in Niger State, the state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has approved the suspension of all weekly cattle markets across the state.
He also ordered that any vehicle carrying cattle into the state must show their way-bill and evidence of the origin where the cattle were purchased and their destination.
The secretary to the state government, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Matane, in a statement yesterday evening said sale of petroleum products in jerry cans or any other containers at filling stations in the state has also been banned.
Matane stated: “All filling stations should not sell petrol of more than N10,000 to each vehicle at a time and should be wary of vehicles or motorcycles coming for repeat purchases.
“Government suspends the operation of trucks carrying firewood/timber across the State. All motorcycles are only allowed to operate from 6:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m across the State.”
He noted that the state government is aware of the inconveniences the measures would cause the people, but the decision was taken in the overall interest of the State.
Matane said the state government also condemned in strong terms the “degree of carnage and mayhem Bandits and Kidnappers are causing to some parts of the State and reiterated its continued determination to rid the State of any security threat.”