Less than 24 hours after Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu suspended all activities in Ondo State forest reserves, he, yesterday, signed into law the Anti-Grazing Bill passed by the State House of Assembly.
According to a statement made available to journalists in Akure yesterday by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, “the move is in line with the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum at its last meeting in Lagos where September 1 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,” the statement said.
Explaining the import of the new law across the 18 local councils of the state, Akeredolu, who is also the Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum, said: “For emphasis, no particular group of persons is the target. While it is the hope of government that all residents would take an ample advantage of this law to enhance our socio-economic well being in Ondo, compliance of 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,” the statement read.
This is coming two days after herders, through their socio-cultural group, Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore, said they will not recognise such policy, describing it as ‘satanic’. The herders said the anti-open grazing policy taking off today had been overtaken by events, even as they declared their support for the Federal Government’s plan to revive grazing reserves, grazing routes and facilitate ranching in all the states.
National secretary of Miyetti Allah, Saleh Alhassan, said members would not recognise any anti-open grazing policy in the country. “Nobody can do anti-grazing policy in Nigeria, where we are constitutionally guaranteed the right of movement and occupation,” he said.
While Oyo State claimed it has passed the anti-cattle grazing bill into law in 2019, the state is still having challenges with implementation of the law as herdsmen move freely in some parts of the state unrestricted.
For instance, as at last week, some herders with their cattle were still moving freely within some areas along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that falls within the Oyo territory.
Similar development was also noticed along the Oyo-Osun Expressway last week, where countless number of herders with their cattle were moving freely in the forests.
Due to this development, some commuters said the road is still a dangerous route at night owing to activities of armed herdsmen, an indication the law, which was indeed passed, does not have the force of implementation.
Several attempts to call the Speaker, Oyo State Assembly, for verification on modus operandi of the law failed, as he did not respond to calls or messages in the last two days.
In Lagos, the Chairman House Committee on Information, Lagos State Assembly, David Setonji, said the deadline given by the Southern Governors’ Forum was September and not necessarily September 1 as some are saying. This appears a safe explanation as to why the law will not take off in Lagos today.
The Guardian leant that the executive arm of Lagos passed the bill to the Assembly not long ago but the House is currently on recess.
According to Setonji, “I can assure the people of Lagos that the Assembly will accelerate passage of the bill before the end of September to meet the deadline. Lagos is not shying away from implementing the law as some people are insinuating.”
Setonji also dismissed the fear that the Federal Government might use federal might to suppress the bill’s implementation if eventually passed into law due to vested interest.
According to him, “there is a Constitution in the country and I believe that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is committed to security of life and property in the state.”
IN Enugu State, residents, yesterday, gave explicit support and approval to the State House of Assembly to enact the anti-open grazing law in the state.
At a public hearing on a “Law to prohibit open grazing, regulate cattle ranching and for connected purposes,” organised by the Joint Committees on Judiciary, Agriculture, Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges and Youths, Sports and Culture of the state Assembly, the people stated that enacting such law would not only restore peace, but security of farmers and residents.
But herdsmen in the state, who apparently could be affected when such law comes into force, requested for one month period to enable them come up with a position on the proposed law
Leading in the approval for the House to proceed with enactment of the law, the Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzo, said traditional rulers in the state had gone through the draft and were in total support of the law.
Chief Toby Eze, who spoke on behalf of Town Unions of Enugu, said the bill would curb the menace of killer herders and would cause the people of Enugu and entire Southeast to heave a sigh of relief.
Speaking in like manner, Israel Chinedu, who spoke on behalf of the youths, noted that though the bill was overdue, it still came timely. He assured of the youths’ support for the bill.
Herdsmen under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and the Hausa community in the state said Northerners in the state were for anything that would ensure safety and peaceful coexistence.
Leader of Northern Community in Enugu and Sariki Hausawa Enugu, Alhaji Yusuf Sambo, as well as Chairman of MACBAN, South East Zone, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, said the one month period would enable them articulate their position on the said law.
AS some of the Southern states begin full implementation of the anti-open grazing law, some Northern states have also taken firm decision on the issue. Yesterday, the Katsina State government banned the transportation of cattle from the state to any part of the country.
This was contained in a statement signed by Abdu Labaran, Director General, Media to the state government. The ban is part of efforts to improve security in the state and is backed by the Security Challenges (Containment) Order signed into law by Governor Aminu Bello Masari.
The order also bans trucks/lorries carrying firewood from the bush and the sale of animals at the markets of Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Danmusa, Kankara, Malumfashi, Charanchi, Mai’aduwa, Kafur, Faskari, Sabuwa, Baure, Dutsinma and Kaita local councils.
Also, Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has suspended the operation of cattle markets across the state. This was communicated in a statement signed yesterday by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ahmed Matane, which stated that it was part of measures to address security challenges in the state.
The directive is expected to take effect from today. “Any vehicle carrying cattle into the state must show way-bill and evidence of the origin where the cattle were purchased and their destination,” the statement added.
It also noted that the state government had banned the sale of petroleum products in jerry cans or any other containers at filling stations. “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,” the statement read.
MEANWHILE, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, raised concerns over the rising deployment of youths from the North to Yorubaland under the guise of riding motorcycles and illegal mining. The group also condemned the statement credited to Miyetti Allah that they would not obey anti-open grazing law in the South.
These were the parts of resolutions of Afenifere after its meeting at the house of its acting leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, in Ogbo-Ijebu, Odogbolu Local Government Area of Ogun State.
In a communiqué read by the National Secretary of the group, Chief Sola Ebiseni, Afenifere lamented the increasing spate of kidnapping in all the Yoruba-speaking states under the guise of commercial motorcycle business and mining.
The communiqué read in parts: “There is an increasing state of kidnapping in all Yoruba states, which are associated with herdsmen. This has led to the relocation of some of our people particularly in Yewa in Ogun State, and Ibarapa area of Oyo State. We note the illegal deployment of youth from Northern parts of the country into Yoruba land under the guise of okada riders and in some cases illegal miners.”
Afenifere also lauded governors for their resolution against open grazing, calling on them to intensify efforts in deployment of Amotekun operatives, hunters and vigilantes.
“We hear that the head of Miyetti Allah said they will not recognise the law passed by our states and that our governors will never be able to enforce those laws. We will enjoin the governors to ensure that the laws are enforced. If they have the capacity to tell us that the laws passed by our own parliaments in our own various states will not be enforced, we will say Yoruba people will support the governors to ensure the laws are enforced and we assure them that the Yoruba people will support the governors to enforce the laws,” the communiqué read.
The Southern Nigeria Frontier (SNF) has described as strange and unguided comments by Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore on anti-grazing law being promulgated across the Southern States of Nigeria as ‘Satanic.’
While it demanded an investigation into the alleged threat by the group on the life of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, the SNF said if Miyetti Allah thinks lands in Southern Nigeria would be ceded for its occupation forcefully, “then, it should well prepare for the consequences of disobedience to legitimate laws in our states.”
SNF Spokesperson, Olufemi Lawson, in a statement on Tuesday, regretted that Miyetti Allah have developed penchant for lawlessness, to a level which suggested that its operatives were seriously under the influence of hard substances.
According to him, the threat that cattle breeders in the country would not obey the law, as the deadline approaches, across the states of the Southern Nigeria, was the height of reckless statement.
Lawson said: “This group of cattle rearers also went further to threaten the incumbent Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, of arrest, with the use of its militia wing, at the expiration of his tenure of office.”