The Lagos state government has moved to stop open grazing and trespass of cattle on land in the state, proposing 21years jail term for any herder found with firearms.
This was contained in a bill tittled ” Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill, 2021″ sent to the House by the executive.
While debating the bill during plenary session on Monday, the members of the State’s House of Assembly condemned the incessant moving of cattle by herders openly on farmers and roads in the state, adding that trespassing on people’s land would continue to threaten peaceful coexistence in the country.
Debating the bill, Hon. Bisi Yusuff (Alimosho 1) said the bill was long expected and need speedy passage, adding that the damages caused by open grazing in the state and Southwest was enormous.
Yusuff said “Open grazing has reduced food supply drastically. Cattle often eat up crops of farmers who most often borrowed money to farm.
The act of this herders have created scarcity of food supply in the west. It is shameful that cattle moves along expressway, destroys markets.
“I am totally in support of the proposed 21years Jail term for defaulters.”
Commenting , Hon. Kehinde Joseph (Alimosho 2) described open grazing system as an aberration in 21st century, adding that the bill would help promote peaceful co-existence between herders and crop farmers.
Joseph said that the bill would also reduce crime and that by reducing crime it would help increase farmers productivity, calling for synergy among security agecies in enforcing the bill when passed into law.
In his contribution, Lukmon Olumoh ( Ajeromi-Ifelodun 2) suggested that High Court should be in position to try defaulters of the bill when passed into rather than Magistrate Court as proposed, adding this would not give room for jurisdictional issue.
Hon. Wale Rauf ( Amuwo-Odofin 2), advised that the term ‘dangerous weapons’ in the bill should be well interpreted and defined before being passed so as to avoid unnecessary arguments in the future.
Contributing, Hon. Gbolahon Yishawu (Eti-Osa 1) said sighting of cattle on the streets and roads of Lagos was shaming and alarming, saying that a cosmopolitan state like Lagos should not entertain open grazing.
Yishawu said that open grazing was inimical to the economic growth of the state, saying that the bill considers the economic impacts of cattle rearing and crop farming to the economy of the state.
” Economic losses will be reduced. It is a bill that look at the economy of cattle rearing, and also the benefit of economy of crop farming”, said Yishawu.
Hon. Abiodun Tobun (Epe 1) said ” I support the bill based on conviction that open grazing brings a lot of embarrassment to Nigeria. This is a country you will cattle entering classrooms, all this social malaise is totally unacceptable”
He said the activities of the herders was coming security threaten, adding that the bill should be strength to protect enforcers of the law if the cattle die in their custody.
While adding his voice, Hon Setonji David (Badagry 2) suggested that the Lagos state Neighbourhood Corps (LNSC) should be listed among the security agencies to enforce the law, saying that the police had already been overstretched.
David ” In order to avoid crisis we need be preemptive. I witnessed one of the herders’ misbehaviour while carrying out oversight at a school in the state as cattle blocked the roads. We needed to wait for them to leave before we continue our journey. Open grazing is the crime not ownership of cattle”.
However, the Speaker of the House, Rt (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, said the House was taking the path of legalising the Southern governors agreement on open grazing, adding that there was need to identify herders operating in the state by registering them so as to know their total number.
Obasa further said there should be financial support for those who wants to go into ranching, saying that there was need for training of the pastoralists in order to prepare them ahead of the new style.
He, however, committed the bill to the House Committee on Agriculture and Cooperative and directed it to report back on Thursday.