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Gov’s Move To Enforce Anti-Open Grazing Ban

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Despite the resolve of the governors of the 17 states in southern Nigeria to ban open grazing of cattle and other animals in their states due to escalating attacks on farmers and other residents by suspected herdsmen, the states appear to have developed cold feet in implementing laws passed and assented to for that purpose.

The governors, who met in Asaba, Delta State, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, said the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the southern part of the country had presented a severe security challenge such that citizens were no longer able to live their normal lives.

“We resolve that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria; noted that development and population growth has put pressure on available land and increased the prospects of conflict between migrating herders and local populations in the South. Given this scenario, it becomes imperative to enforce the ban on open grazing in the South (including cattle movement to the South by foot),” the governors stated in a communiqué at the end of the meeting.

The 12-point communiqué was read by the Chairman of the forum and Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

The southern governors set a deadline for their respective state Houses of Assembly to pass anti-open grazing law to give effect to the ban.

In February 2021, Ondo State announced the ban on open grazing, while Ogun State announced plans to pass the anti-open grazing law. Open grazing has also been banned in Oyo State.

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The six South-South governors announced the ban of open grazing and urged security agencies to enforce it in the states during the launch of the Ebubeagu security outfit last April.

However, the implementation of the ban appears to become very challenging. While some of the states have yet to pass the anti-open grazing law, those who have passed the law seem disinterested in enforcing it.

 Edo Assembly passes anti-open grazing bill

For instance, the Edo State House of Assembly only passed the bill for a law to prohibit open grazing of cattle and regulate other livestock in the state on Wednesday.

The motion to dissolve the House into a committee of the whole was moved by the Deputy Speaker, Roland Asoro, and seconded by the member representing Esan North East 1, Francis Okiye.

Considering the bill clause by clause at the committee of the whole, the lawmakers passed relevant sections with amendments to sections 5(7) and 5(8).

The amendment to section 5 (7) states that a ranch committee to be constituted by the governor shall determine the size of the land suitable for ranching in conjunction with the community where the ranch is proposed.

Section 5 (8) was also amended to read that the committee shall control the activities of cattle herdsmen within the various communities.

Section eight, however, prohibits open grazing in the state.

Section 9(1) of the bill empowered the state governor to designate a land for ranching.

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Section 9(2) stated that an owner of a piece of land shall apply to the committee in writing of his intention to operate a ranch with his land.

The Speaker, Marcus Onobun, thereafter directed the clerk, Yahaya Omogbai, to give the bill its third reading and forward clean copies to the governor for his assent.

Meanwhile, the House has received copies of the constitution alteration bills, Fifth Alteration Bill, 2022 for consideration.

Absence of monitoring task force stalls enforcement in Delta

The Delta State Government has said it is still sensitising relevant stakeholders ahead of the full implementation of the law that bans the open grazing of animals in the state.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa had signed the anti-open grazing bill into law on September 30, 2021, and inaugurated the Delta Livestock Management Committee in January 2022 with a mandate to carry out sensitisation for three months.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olise Ifejika, said Okowa had set up the committee to enforce the ban on opening grazing.

“Governor Okowa has set up the committee and it is left for the committee to enforce the law. Beyond the committee, the police and other security agents, who are members of the committee, will be in a better position to know more about the enforcement,” he said.

But, the immediate past Commissioner for Agriculture /Natural Resources and Chairman, Delta Livestock Management Committee, Mr Julius Egbedi, said the committee was in the process of inaugurating a monitoring task force.

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“We have not made any arrest; we are in the process of inaugurating a monitoring task force that will be combing the bush.”

The Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ali, had stated when the committee visited him that the biggest task was the enforcement of the law, noting that the police could not do it alone.

“Governor Okowa has set up the committee and it is left for the committee to enforce the law. Beyond the committee, the police and other security agents, who are members of the committee, will be in a better position to know more about the enforcement,” he said.

But, the immediate past Commissioner for Agriculture /Natural Resources and Chairman, Delta Livestock Management Committee, Mr Julius Egbedi, said the committee was in the process of inaugurating a monitoring task force.

Implementation begins April, says Ogun

The Ogun State Government has said it will commence the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in April.

Governor Dapo Abiodun had last year September assented to the bill after the state House of Assembly passed it.

The governor had announced six months’ grace period, which will expire at the end of March for herders to stop open grazing in any part of the state.

“We have not made any arrest; we are in the process of inaugurating a monitoring task force that will be combing the bush.”

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The Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ali, had stated when the committee visited him that the biggest task was the enforcement of the law, noting that the police could not do it alone.

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Implementation begins April, says Ogun

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Communications, Remmy Hazzan, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday while explaining why the government had yet to enforce the law.

He said the government would wait till when the grace period would lapse to begin the enforcement of the law.

Hassan stated, “We are supposed to start by March; the governor said six months’ grace would be given.

“So, it will start by April. The grace period will lapse at the end of March, so enforcement will begin in April and I am sure that Amotekun and the police are working out the formula to use.”

He added that the government would adopt a persuasive method and not rely on confrontation to enforce the law.

Hassan added, “There is going to be more of moral persuasion and not necessarily face-to-face confrontation, because at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, these are people who are resident in Ogun State.So, we will be wise with it; it (grace period) ends by March ending, enforcement should start in April.”

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 C’River anti-grazing law new, says Ayade’s aide

The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Christian Ita, said the governor had just signed the anti-grazing bill into law and agencies have to study the law for proper enforcement.

“Is it up to two weeks after Ayade signed the Anti-Grazing Law? Agencies have to study the law. The law allows only trucks to move livestock within the state. It prohibits open grazing which causes farmers/herders’ clashes. Of course there are penalties for those who flout it,” he said.

 We’ll do more to enforce law – Ekiti commissioner

The Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Akin Omole, has said that the state will do more in the enforcement of its law which banned open grazing.

Omole, who said the anti-open grazing law was being enforced in the state at present, said, “The law is in place and we are carrying out the implementation. If it is not fully implemented, it is not that the law does not exist.

“In Ekiti, there is no difficulty in implementing the law. The police and some other agencies of government are really in charge of the implementation. The government has taken the right step by ensuring there is a law against it, so, if those people in charge of law enforcement are not doing enough, it is not about the government.

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“We are implementing it; you can always point our attention to areas we can do more and we will be glad to receive counsel, but the law is in place. We will do more in implementing it and in enforcing it; do not think the law is just for the shelves, we are on it.”

‘Herders, farmers’ clashes have reduced in Abia’

In Abia State, the incidence of farmers and herders’ clashes has been reduced due to the proactive nature of the state government and the state House of Assembly in passing the anti-open grazing law.

According to the Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof Ikechi Mgboji, the state government is not finding it difficult enforcing the law as the relation between it and herders has become cordial as the latter have restricted open grazing activities in accordance with the law.

Mgboji stated, “The law has been passed but it has to do with the mechanism of implementation. It is not what the police regularly do.

“Of course, the other problem associated with the arrest of the herders is that arrests are done by the police and when arrested, the herders will be detained, but then, how will the animals be detained?

“If you watch carefully, the activities of herdsmen have drastically reduced in the state.”

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