Seven states in the southern part Nigeria have failed to meet the deadline set for Wednesday, September 1, 2021, to ban open grazing in the region, THISDAY findings have shown.
But the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, beat the deadline Wednesday, when he signed into law, the Anti-Open Grazing Bill passed by the State House of Assembly.
THISDAY checks showed that the legislation was still stuck in the Houses of Assembly of some of the states, including Enugu, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Osun States.
On the other hand, Lagos, Anambra and Edo States were yet to send any bill related to the matter to their respective lawmaking arm, further findings have revealed.
However, Ondo, Rivers, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ogun, Abia, Oyo, Ebonyi and Imo States have all enacted the anti-open grazing law. But in some of the states that had enacted the law, it has yet to be fully operational which has raised concerns about the will to implement the law in those states.
A source at the Anambra State House of Assembly on Tuesday said they were yet to receive any bill to outlaw open grazing in the state.
THISDAY also learnt from the clerk of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Mr. Pius Udoh that, “So far, there is no law yet, but the Assembly may be thinking in the direction.
“I have been away for some time, but if there has been a law, I will know. As at today, there is no law yet, but you know the way this thing works. Once an action has been initiated, the law can be actualised in a short while,” he said.
In Lagos, a source also told THISDAY that the bill was still being prepared by the Ministry of Justice. Also, it was gathered that the Edo State government was still consulting with stakeholders on the matter.
In order to put an end to the killing of farmers and destruction of farmlands by herdsmen in the region, the 17 governors in the southern region had fixed a September 1, 2021, target to enact the legislation.
The 17 southern governors, had in a meeting held in Lagos on July 5, 2021, urged states in the region to ensure that the legislation against open grazing of cattle was put in place on or before September 1.
Following the governors’ resolution, most of the states sent the bills to their respective assemblies.
But before the resolution of the governors, the anti-open grazing law was already operational in Ogun, Abia, Oyo, Ekiti, and Ebonyi States.
However, from Ondo, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, disclosed the signing of the bill by Akeredolu in a statement, adding that the ceremony took place at the governor’s office.
Akeredolu, while signing the law 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 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.
“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 State, 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.”
In a related development, the Enugu State House of Assembly, yesterday, held a public hearing on the bill.
This was just as the Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) in the state has asked for three months to study the bill.
In attendance at the session held at the Assembly complex were community leaders and traditional rulers, clerics, youths, farmers, opinion leaders, political leaders, cattle rearers and other stakeholders.
The session was chaired by the Deputy Speaker, who pointed out that the bill had passed the Second Reading and that it was aimed at ushering in peaceful coexistence between native farmers and the itinerant herdsmen.