Anti-Open Grazing: Imo Opts Out As Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Anambra Delay Law

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.

Checks by Daily Trust 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, told Daily Trust that the State Executive Council has passed the anti-open grazing bill and presented it to the House of Assembly.

Meanwhile, Daily Trust 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 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.

Our reporter 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 organisations 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 has been passed by the assembly after its third reading but the governor has not given his assent to it.

Akeredolu, Fayemi, Wike, Makinde, Diri sign bill into law

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.

Daily Trust 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.

Daily Trust gathered 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, told Daily Trust that 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, Daily Trust 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.

Miyetti Allah, Fulani group request for more time in Enugu

The leaders of the Miyetti Allah Hor and Gan-Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria (GAFDAN), have asked the Enugu State House of Assembly to give them more time to make submission to the anti-grazing bill before the assembly.

Head of Miyetti Allah in the South East, Alhaji Gidado Idris Siddiki, and Zonal Chairman, Musa Abdulahi, respectively on Tuesday asked the Enugu State House of Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Ethics and Privileges, during the public hearing on the Law to Prohibit Open Grazing and Regulate Cattle Ranching, to give them one month to go and deliberate on the bill to make their own submission.

Afenifere, Ohaneze Ndigbo, PANDEF back implementation of anti-open grazing law

The Pan-Yoruba sociopolitical organisation, Afenifere, Tuesday backed the southern governors on the passage of the anti-open grazing Bill.

“We commend the steps taken by governors of the South West on the establishment of security networks like Amotekun. We urge them to continue to forge ahead,” Afenifere said in a communiqué signed by the Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi, at the end of a meeting of the group held at the house of the acting leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo.

Participants who attended the meeting from all the states in the South West as well as Kwara and Kogi states also faulted the move by President Muhammadu Buhari to revive the grazing routes.

The National Publicity Secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Ken Robinson, said that no governor in the region should refuse to enact the anti-open grazing law.

He said, “With the expiration of that deadline, PANDEF implores all the southern governors to honour their collective decision, despite the apparent acts of intimidation and coercion by the central government, particularly, with the 2023 general elections in view.

“The fact remains that open grazing of cattle is an archaic practice that has no place in today’s society, irrespective of the arbitrary actions of President Buhari, like the reported order on recovery of Grazing Reserves in 25 states.

“It would be unfortunate if any of the southern governors fails to enact the Anti-Open Grazing Law. PANDEF commends the governors that have enacted the Law and calls on states yet to enact the law, to do so without delay, in the best interest of their people,” he said.

When contacted yesterday, the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, said the group would have to investigate the states in the East that had passed the bill and those that were yet to pass it.

According to him, until the group finds out what is happening across the Eastern states, he would not comment on the development.

But in its reaction, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) described the ban as politically motivated.

The National Publicity Secretary of the association, Malam Adamu Toro, said there was not much they could do since the decision was politically motivated.

He said they had called on governors in the northern states to see the ban as a challenge to their people and rise to it by reorganising their respective livestock sector.

“We are watching the implementation to see how it goes. Where necessary we will assist our members who face any challenge,’’ he said.

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