Despite a ban on free-range cattle grazing by southern governors, the practice has continued to flourish in the region’s 17 states and stakeholders are calling for legal backing for the ban.
investigations over the weekend showed that governors ‘delay in enacting laws in their states to legalize the ban has raised concern among residents, particularly in the states’ agricultural communities.
In the absence of the law, according to investigations, herders have continued to openly graze their livestock, in some cases leading to frequent clashes between them and farmers whose farmland is devastated by the movement of animals.
The governors, under the auspices of the Southern Nigeria Governors Forum (SNGF), following a meeting in Asaba, the Delta state capital, on 11 May, had announced, among others, a ban on outdoor grazing to control the escalation of conflict between farmers and pastoralists.
In Ondo state, gathered that the bill against outdoor grazing and other related issues went through second reading, but lawmakers were unable to advance the legislative process due to the ongoing strike by parliamentary workers.
But outdoor grazing by pastoralists has been drastically reduced in the state, particularly in places close to urban areas.
The investigation revealed that herders still move their cows in many villages such as Osi, Ogbese, Ala, Igbatoro, Eleyowo, and other villages in the Akure North local government area.
Furthermore, sources told that the practice still continues in the villages of Ondo Norte, but not with the impunity previously shown by herders.
Speaking to, Ondo State Security Network Commander Amotekun, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, said that outdoor grazing had been reduced in the state as the security agency no longer gives them opportunities to continue the illegal practice.
He said: “However, to think that we would not have some pastors still engaged in outdoor grazing in view of the ban and the Amotekun operation is like saying why do we still have crime when there are police officers on duty?
“The government of the state of Ondo through Amotekun does not yield. Pastors know they are doing the wrong thing. Once they see us, they run away. They know they are doing the wrong thing by destroying some people’s livelihoods so that theirs will prosper, we consider it unfair.
“The government’s position is very clear in this regard. No outdoor grazing is outdoor grazing, and anyone who participates in it is doing something illegal and anyone caught will face the wrath of the law. ”
In Cross River State, herders still practiced outdoor grazing as usual in some communities in the local government areas of Odukpani, Obanliku, Yala, Yakurr, and Obubra.
However, noted that there have been no clashes between the herders and any of the communities as the cows are restricted to the areas where they have been grazing for decades.
“The cow owners pay rent to the community for the space that the cows are taken to feed in the bush along the Calabar-Itu highway. So we have been operating with them for years, and there is no problem; We have never heard of problems, ”an Okoyong community leader confided to
However, the state government insists that it will not do it alone, but will wait for the southern governors to define the modalities for the way forward.
Cross River State Governor’s Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita, said grazing in a restricted area was not foreign to the state that had established the first cattle ranch in Nigeria; the Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort.
“As I said, I am sure that the modalities will be worked out at the level of the governors of the South, and then we proceed from there,” he added.
In Anambra state, despite a ban on outdoor grazing, herders continue to graze livestock in state communities, including within the territory of the state capital, in open fields, and on farms owned by farmers.
Fredrick Okoye, a farmer from the community of Umuokpu, Awka South local government area, told that despite the ban on outdoor grazing, Fulani herders still graze their livestock on their farms, damaging their crops on a daily basis.
“There is a law that states that if the Fulani people destroy your crop, they will pay you for it, and if the farmer’s ma
There have been cases of clashes between herders and farmers in Anaku, Omor, and even in the riparian areas of Anambra state.
The Anambra State Information and Public Illustration Commissioner, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, said that the law against open grazing was unnecessary as the proclamation of the ban by the governors was enough for the herders to comply with it.
The Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, the Hon. Marcus Onobu, also told that the persistent open grazing of cattle in the state was due to the inability of the state government to draft legislation against it.
Onobus said Governor Godwin Obaseki had not yet introduced a bill to legalize outdoor grazing.
He added that although there is a private bill against outdoor grazing, the legislature has yet to debate it because it requires a public hearing.
“But I think the biggest problem is the legislative workers’ strike because we already have a private bill before us.
“Even if we want to have the bill private without waiting for the governor, we are still going to have a public hearing, and we cannot do it because the legislative workers’ strike has not been canceled,” he said.
According to him, without legislation, it will be difficult to enforce the ban on outdoor grazing, since verbal pronouncement is not enough because aggrieved people can go to court to seek redress.
In the Delta state, outdoor grazing persists in the forest, particularly in Ughelli, Abraka, Oghara in the South Delta and Central Senatorial areas.
However, security arrangements and crowd agitation have reduced outdoor grazing.
Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, Delta State Governor’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, confirmed to that there has been a reduction in free range grazing in the state.
Ifeajika said the state has yet to enact a law against outdoor grazing due to the ongoing strike by parliamentary workers.
Despite the law against open grazing in Oyo state, herders are still openly grazing their livestock in most areas of the state.
Areas, where open grazing is still practiced in the state, include Ibarapaland, the Oyo / Ogbomoso Highway, Oke Ogun, and some parts of Ibadan, the state capital.
The State House of Assembly passed a bill titled “Oyo State Open Farming and Grazing Regulation Act” in October 2019, which was signed into law by Governor Seyi Makinde.
However, Makinde has expressed his administration’s determination to enforce the law, stating that the state government will launch within the next eight weeks a task force to enforce the ban on outdoor grazing.
He said: “In Oyo State, outdoor grazing is illegal. The implementation plan will come out within the next six to eight weeks and the task force will spread throughout the state of Oyo. So whoever goes against the law in this state will face the wrath of the law and that’s it. ”
Makinde Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Taiwo Adisa, speaking about the challenges facing the implementation of the law, identified the main one as the lack of commitment from the police and other security agencies to enforce the law. law.
Farmers operating in Ekiti state have also raised the alarm that free-range grazing of cattle and other ruminant animals continues to occur in all three senatorial districts of the state.
Some farmers told in Oke Ako, Irele, and Ipao in the Ikole and Ijan and Aisegba local government areas in the Gbonyin local government area, as well as in Aaye Oja, Igogo, and Osan in the Moba council area that the practice was still effective in their areas.
that the practice was even common in Ado Ekiti, the capital city, especially along the Ado-Ijan-Ikare, Ado-Iworoko-Ifaki, and Ado-Ikere-Akure highways.
However, the State Commander of the Ekiti State Security Network codenamed Amotekun Corps, Brig. General Joe Komolafe (rtd) said the security team was vigorously enforcing the law.
He said the team had been zealous in enforcing the cattle grazing ban, adding that some herders and cattle had been arrested and owners were already facing charges while their cows were confiscated.
Akomolafe added that his officers had engaged in shootings with some pastors around 2:00 am on more than four occasions around the Ikole axis, which he said testified to Amotekun’s proactive law enforcement.
“It is part of our legal duties to enforce the law and we are doing it. We have arrested dozens of livestock owners who are in court facing charges, but their cases were stalled by the JUSUN strike. Some are still in police custody.
“We know that some pastors are still disobeying this law, but we are spreading our networks against them. Even most of those who return north due to the arrival of the rain used to ask us for permission and it was difficult for us to escort them to the border in Kwara or Kogi to make sure there is no destruction, “he added.
The ban on free-range cattle grazing had not yet been enforced in Imo State.
noted that the Imo State Government has so far not sent any open anti-grazing bill to the House of Assembly.
At the moment, shepherds are still seen in the bushes and on the sides of the roads grazing their cattle without being challenged by anyone or security personnel.
Even in Owerri, the capital, as well as in other villages and communities, outdoor grazing continues unchecked.
Areas where pastoralists often go to graze include Irette, Avu, Obinze, in Owerri West LGA; Emekuku, Agbala, Amakohia / Akwakuma at Owerri North LGA.
Other areas are Obowo, Okigwe, Mbaise, and other local government areas.