Oyo Assembly moves to regulate open grazing

Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan

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The Oyo State House of Assembly has commenced the process of regulating the activities of herdsmen in the State with the Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Bill, 2019, passing second reading at plenary.

The Bill was jointly sponsored by the Speaker, Debo Ogundoyin; his deputy, Abiodun Fadeyi; Majority Leader, Sanjo Adedoyin and Minority Leader, Asimiyu Alarape.

‘Guilty of offence’
According to the Bill, anyone who engages in open rearing or grazing of livestock, in the State, is guilty of an offence and liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for seven years or a fine of N200,000 or both.

In specific terms, the Bill prohibits the movement of livestock on foot from one destination to another in the State.

It also says all herdsmen are mandated to submit themselves for registration and get an identification card, which must be worn at all times.

Furthermore, the Bill says, movement of livestock is only permissible by rail wagon, truck or pick-up wagon, while any person found moving livestock on foot is liable on conviction to imprisonment for one year or a fine of N50,000 or both.

The penalty for any herdsman who fails to register is imprisonment for two years or a fine of N100,000 or both, while anyone without identification card is liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for six months or a fine of N50,000 or both.

A minor is prohibited from grazing, rearing or herding of livestock except under the supervision of an adult, while anyone found guilty of possession of offensive weapon within or outside the ranch, is liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for one year or a fine of N100,000 or both.

If the Bill is passed into Law, any herdsman wishing to set up ranches or anyone intending to graze livestock on ranches is expected to pay a permit fee, with the permit, renewable after one year, subject to the Governor’s approval.

Such herdsman is expected to apply for one year lease of land for the owner and get the consent of the Ministry of Environment which will carry out an environmental impact assessment before issuance of permit.

When fully operational, the Bill would prevent destruction of farms, community ponds and property through open grazing and rearing of animals, as well as put an end to clashes between livestock owners and farmers, while also protecting the environment from degradation and pollution.

The Speaker noted that  the Bill would make it an offence for anyone to engage in open rearing, herding and grazing of livestock in the State, outside the permitted ranches and also provide opportunities for private investors who may want to have their own ranches in the State.

The Minority leader, Asimiyu Alarape (Atiba) and Hakeem Adedibu (Iwajowa) in their contributions noted that the movement of livestock around poses great risk to farmers in rural communities and such is also unheard of in developed countries.

Speedy passage
|Other lawmakers including Jacob Bamigboye (Oriire) and Olawumi Oladeji (Ogbomoso North) called for speedy passage of the Bill in order to curtail the rising cases of farmers/herders clashes, particularly in most agrarian communities in Oyo State.

The Bill states that where any livestock strays into another person’s land and causes destruction to crops or contaminates any source of water supply, the herdsman will be liable to pay damages or compensation to the owner or community with proprietary interest in the land or source of water.

An Open Grazing Prohibition Task Force comprising representatives of the State government, security agencies, farmers’ associations, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, vigilante and the judiciary, has been set up to see to the implementation of the objectives of the Bill.

While passing the Bill to the House Committees on Agriculture and Security for further deliberations and scrutiny, the House also resolved to conduct a public hearing on the Bill.

The eighth Assembly had in 2017 also started similar move to prohibit open grazing, establish controlled grazing and regulate the activities of herdsmen in Oyo state, with the Bill also passing a second reading.

Other bills hich passed through second reading at the plenary included: Ministry of Finance Bill, Ministry of Establishment and Training Bill, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Bill, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Bill and Ministry of Energy Bill.

 

Sammie Idika