Tuesday, May 11

Oyo, Ogun Plan Herdsmen Registration, To Outlaw Open Grazing

The Ogun State House of Assembly has said it will consider a debate for the Anti-Open Grazing Bill in February.

This came just as the Oyo State Government said it had passed the Anti-Open Grazing Bill into law and would begin to enforce the legislation in the state.

The two state governments spoke amid ongoing crises in the South-West states especially Oyo State over allegations of rape, kidnapping for ransom and killing against herdsmen in the region.

The Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, who disclosed this while speaking with one of our correspondents on Friday, lamented that the bill would have been passed into law but had to be suspended due to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Oluomo said for the bill to be passed into law, all stakeholders would be carried along.

He said the bill was still on the order paper of the Assembly and would be considered in February.

He said, “The bill requires the input of many stakeholders and COVID-19 did not allow a big public hearing to take place. However, it remains on our order paper and slated for further legislative action in February.”

On the efforts of the executive to ensure that the anti-open grazing bill was passed into law, the Special Adviser to the Ogun State Governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, said, “Every law has its peculiarity and having been a parliamentarian myself for not less than eight years, I understand that there are processes by which laws are passed so if that particular law was delayed for some reasons, there might be other challenges that have not allowed the law to pass.

“But of course, it’s going to be within the tenet of the law and its viability cannot be overemphasised. So, at this point in time, if that is the way to go, I am not seeing anything wrong with it. But, of course, the process of enacting laws must be followed to the last letter.”

When asked how soon the bill would be passed, he said “That is for the House of Assembly to answer.”

Meanwhile, Hazzan said the state government would do everything within the ambit of the law to kick out killer herdsmen from its forest reserves and other places.

He said, “Anything that is within the framework of the Constitution that will promote peace and security over our people, which is a mandate for every governor in Section 7, we have been doing and we are even ready to do more as far as it’s within the framework of the law.”

“The issue of the forest areas has become a major concern to most of the South-West states. We are in a tropical rainforest and these areas have turned out to be the largely unpoliced areas of our vast landscape. To that extent, as a region, the initiative of Amotekun came up.”

Also, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Taiwo Adisa, has described cattle rearing and other livestock production as private businesses, saying herdsmen in the state are free to apply for land to build ranches for their livestock.

He said this in a response to an inquiry sent by our correspondent on Friday.

Adisa said anybody interested in the business was free to apply for land to build their business just like other entrepreneurs.

The governor’s spokesman said, “The Oyo State Anti-Open Grazing Law sees ranching as a personal business. Herdsmen are free to apply for land for that purpose.

“What the law permits is that nobody in the state should engage in open rearing or grazing of livestock outside the permitted ranches. A minor is prohibited from grazing livestock except under the supervision of an adult.

“Child herding is prohibited; open grazing is also prohibited. But there will be issuance of permit by the state government for people that want to operate ranches and the land will be on lease for three years but it is renewable.

“The person who wants to operate ranches will apply to the land owner. If he is satisfied, he will send the application to the Ministry of Agriculture and the ministry will inform the Ministry of Environment who will carry out environmental impact assessment.

“Once that is done, the application will be sent to the governor for approval. It means that herders have to get registered.”

The CPS said the Anti-Open Grazing Law had been signed into law since October 2019.

The Ogun State government says it might embark on the registration of herdsmen coming into the state after the Amotekun was inaugurated to flush out criminals among them.

The government said it saw the method as one of the best ways to curb incessant herders and farmers’clash in the state .

Hazzan said the state was planning to embark on the registration to flush out criminal herdsmen in the state.

Responding to media enquiry on whether the state would consider registering herdsmen in order to flush out killer herdsmen from the state, Hazzan said, “Definitely, it will be the way to go.”

He added, “But, of course, the template would be part of what the mandate of Amotekun and the regular police because ,even, in bringing out that kind of guidelines, somebody has to oversee .

“That is one of the tactical delays we have in ensuring that Amotekun is well grounded.”

Hazzan further said, “When we finish with the background checks on all the recruits to be sure that they are free and proper to carry out those assignments then, it will be part of their mandate . I think I can say that with some sense of responsibility and fact.”

“The other side to it is the various communities themselves, they have always had the template with which they relate with herdsmen who have stayed long in their various communities .

“So, if those terms can guarantee peace, it will be part of what we will incorporate into whatever guideline we are bringing up.”

When contacted, the Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, Timothy Owoeye, said the state had not made a law to stop open grazing.

Owoeye, however, said with the prevailing situation, the state would consider having a law to prohibit open grazing.

Speaking through his Press Secretary, Kunle Alabi, he said the security concerns raised by the activities of some herders might make the lawmakers consider passing a law to stop open grazing.

“Before now, herders/farmers clashes rarely occurred in Osun. But with the prevailing situation, there is a need for a law to stop open grazing now,” he added.

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