Anambra, Edo and Cross Rivers states yet to enact a law prohibiting open grazing of cattle, The Nation learnt on Sunday
The Southern Governors Forum (SGF) on July 5 agreed on a September 1 deadline for the anti-open grazing law to be signed by all member-states.
Chairman of the forum and Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who read a communiqué after the meeting in Lagos, said: “We have set a timeline of September 1 for the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in all member-states.”
But, findings by our correspondents show that the 17 states are at different stages of enacting the law as the deadline approaches.
Rivers, Bayelsa and Oyo have now have the law. In Ondo, Ogun and Osun, the bill is awaiting assent.
Ekiti, Abia and Ebonyi indicated they intend to enforce existing laws rather than enact a new one.
The Bill pending before the lawmakers in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Imo and Delta.
But the bill is yet to be sent to the Assemblies in Edo, Anambra and Cross River.
Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) said the bill has been forwarded to the House of Assembly for appropriate action.
The House has been on recess in the last two weeks.
Chairman of the House of Committee on Information Setonji David said: “The bill has been received from the executive and we shall work on it immediately we resume.
“The bill shall pass through legislative scrutiny and passed before the expiration of the date specified.”
The Ogun State House of Assembly, on July 8, passed the bill into law.
It is entitled the Animal Grazing Regulation and Cattle Ranch Establishment Law, 2021.
It prescribes a jail term of not less than three years without the option of a fine and the forfeiture of the cattle or livestock belonging to anyone who violates the law.
Speaker Kunle Oluomo, who hailed the speedy passage of the Bill, directed that a clean copy be transmitted to Governor Dapo Abiodun for his assent.
The governor’s spokesman, Mr Kunle Somorin, said the bill would soon be signed.
His Special Adviser on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, added: “I’m sure it will be signed into law before the expiration of the deadline.”
Leo Ìketa, Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Ogbonnaya Nwifuru, told our correspondent that Law No. 010 of 2018: Ebonyi State Miscellaneous Offences Law contains sections that ban open grazing.
Secretary to the State Government and Coordinating Commissioner, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, said security agencies have been charged to ensure strict enforcement of the law.
The bill, sponsored by Leader of the House Ikechukwu Ezeugwu, scaled through second reading on August 13 and was referred to the joint House committees on Agriculture, Judiciary, and Security for a public hearing.
Governor Akeredolu is yet to assent to the bill passed in July, a month after he ordered all illegal occupants of forest reserves to move out.
The bill prohibits open grazing, night grazing and under-aged herders in the state.
The governor is empowered to designate land by an order to be known as “general ranch” in each local government in respect of which livestock may be permitted to graze.
Intending ranchers are to procure a permit from the Ondo State Livestock and Ranch Administration and Control Committee, based on the approval of the governor.
The permit will be anchored on a written agreement between the communities or family heads, who are owners of the land, and such ranching permits are also subject to revocation.
Violators of the law risk three years imprisonment and fines not exceeding N100,000.
Livestock owners would be required to pay in full damage done by their livestock to farms after due evaluation by the livestock and ranch administration agency.
Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, said the governor would assent to the bill.
It was learnt that the proposed ranching area was not ready.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike last Thursday signed the Open Rearing and Grazing Prohibition Law, No.5 of 2021.
He said cattle rearing is a business, and that ranching was intended to stem the clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
Governor Seyi Makinde assented to the Oyo State Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Bill 2019 on October 31, 2019, six days after it was passed.
In June, he promised to set up a task force to enforce the ban on open grazing.
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola may sign the bill into law this week. The House passed the bill on August 12.
It provides for imprisonment of not less than three years or a fine of N300,000 as well as forfeiture of the herds of cattle or livestock for violators, among others.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Ismail Omipidan, said: “My principal will sign the bill into law any moment from now.”
The Imo Speaker, Paul Emeziem, said the House received the Bill and will expedite action on resumption.
House spokesman, Johnson Duru, said: “The House is on recess right now. We will work towards the deadline.”
A grazing prohibition bill was passed by the Kolawole Oluwawole-led Assembly and signed into law on August 29, 2016, by former Governor Ayodele Fayose.
The law is entitled Prohibition of Cattle and Other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti, 2016.
It bars herdsmen from bearing arms and outlawed night cattle rearing.
The law stipulates that anyone caught grazing on portions of land or any farm not allotted by the government shall be prosecuted.
Despite the law, open grazing has continued in Ekiti.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Ogundana (retd), who chairs the Ekiti State Farmers-Herders Peace Committee, blamed the weak enforcement on the lack of alternatives, such as ranches.
The Anambra State government is yet to send the Bill to the House, it was learnt.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr James Eze, said he would get back to our correspondent with more details but could not be reached as of press time.
Commissioner for Information and Enlightenment, Mr C Don Adinuba, said he had not been briefed on the issue.
He added that Anambra had no problems with the herders.
But a senior government official, who pleaded anonymity, Governor Willie Obiano is not interested in it.
The Anambra State House of Assembly member and House Committee Chairman on Information, Okechukwu Okoye, said he did not know whether such a bill had been sent to the House.
The Cross River Assembly passed a Bill banning open grazing in 2017.
Deputy Speaker, Joseph Bassey, said the state does not need another one. He promised to make the law available to our correspondent.
Former Speaker, John Gaul-Lebo, under whose leadership the law was enacted, said: “Cross River has the renowned Obudu cattle ranch resort but the ranching business at the resort has been on the downside.”
Governor Godwin Obaseki is yet to send the bill to the House.
A source close to the Speaker, Marcus Onobun, said: “The bill has not been sent to the House.”
Governor Udom Emmanuel has sent Bill to the House.
Chairman on Information, Mr Aniefiok Dennis, said the bill will enter the third reading next week.
“The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is working tirelessly to ensure that the Anti-open Grazing Bill is given accelerated attention.
“The bill has entered second reading. By next week, it will get to the third reading. I want to assure you that the House will complete work on the bill and pass it into law,” he said.
Section 4 (2) of the Control of Movement and Taxation of Cattle and other Animals Law of 1994 prohibits open grazing of cattle.
In 2018, the state made another law banning open grazing.
However, open grazing has continued in the state despite the law due to lack of enforcement, with farmers lamenting the destruction of their plants.
Chief Press Secretary, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka, said “It’s been a law in Abia since. We were one of the first to get our law.”
On why there has not been any arrest and prosecution of offenders, Ememanka replied: “Ask the Commissioner of Police.”
Police spokesman, Geoffrey Ogbonna, could not be reached for comments.
The bill for a law on the Regulation of Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing and to Prohibit Open Grazing and Related Matters in Delta State is pending before the Assembly.
It passed the first reading on July 13, followed by a public hearing on July 26.
The committee is yet to submit its recommendation to the house.
Governor Douye Diri, on March 10, signed into law the Livestock Breeding and Marketing Regulation Bill 2021 banning open grazing of livestock in the state.