Anti-open grazing law suffers setback in South as States flop September 1 deadline
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Lagos, the permanent secretariat of the Southern Governors’ Forum, is one of the states in the region that has failed to meet the September 1 deadline for the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law.
The 17 governors of the region had set the deadline during their July meeting in Lagos as a follow up to the announcement of a total ban on open grazing during an earlier meeting in Asaba, Delta state.
Investigations revealed that the anti-open grazing bill is still in the State House of Assembly, where it has passed first reading. The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said the State Executive Council has passed the anti-open grazing bill and presented it to the House of Assembly.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that Imo State has opted out of the resolutions of the governors of the region. The governor of the state, Hope Uzodimma, disclosed that the state has opted for a “partnership between farmers and herders.”
After meeting President Muhammadu Buhari penultimate Friday, Uzodimma had told State House correspondents that there was no law forbidding open grazing by cattle rearers in Imo state
In Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun is yet to assent the Animal Grazing Regulation and Cattle Ranch Establishment Bill 2020 passed last month by the state’s House of Assembly. The bill passed on July 8 puts offenders at the risk of three-year jail term.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Kunle Somorin, confirmed that the bill had not been signed into law. When asked if the governor was ready to assent the bill, he said, “The governor will assent a bill based on the advice from the Ministry of Justice and the major stakeholders.”
In Edo State, the anti- grazing law has not been enacted by the state’s assembly. It was gathered that the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, had yet to send a bill to the assembly for consideration despite the September 1 deadline by the Southern governors.
There have been several protests by communities and civil society organizations calling on the state government for the enactment of a law regulating grazing in the state.
However, the Anambra State government said it had no plan to enact anti-open grazing law in the state because of the cordial relationship with herders in the state.
The state’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, said, “We have a committee that interfaces with the herders and farmers in the state over the years and it is working effectively. There is no need for such laws since there is no problem in the state.”
Also, Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, has not signed the Anti-Open Grazing Bill passed by the assembly. The Osun Animal Grazing Regulation and Cattle Ranches Establishment Bill 2021 had been passed by the assembly after its third reading but the governor has not given his assent to it.
However, the Ondo State Governor and Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) on Tuesday signed the Anti-Grazing Bill passed by the state’s assembly into law.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, said, “It is very pertinent to aver and indeed, 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,” he said.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has also passed the Open Rearing and Grazing Prohibition law, No.5 of 2021, saying “It is inimical to development and peace, for any state to condone opening grazing of cattle.”
Governor Douye Diri, who has already assented to the anti-open grazing bill in Bayelsa, has constituted an implementation committee to enforce the law in the state.
The committee is headed by the Commissioner for Agriculture, David Alagoa, while members of Cattle Rearers Association are to serve as members. It was gathered that cattle rearers in the state have relocated to the government approved area for grazing at Bayelsa Palm Road in Yenagoa.
In Ekiti State, Major Tajudeen Awe (Retd.), who is in charge of Agro Rangers in the state, said the state started the implementation of the anti-grazing law in 2016 while the law was amended in 2018.
Also, it has been said that Oyo State is putting in place apparatus to implement the anti-open grazing bill which the governor has assented to in October 2019.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Taiwo Adisa, said the state would implement the law as soon as the necessary apparatus were in place.
A former chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers Association in Oyo State, Alhaji Yakubu Bello said the association and the Oyo State government had scheduled a meeting for Saturday, saying the outcome of the meeting would determine their stand.
In Ebonyi, it was gathered that the anti-open grazing law came into existence in 2018 but its implementation is doubtful. The law banned underage herders, grazing of cows and its movement in the night.
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