Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Anambra Assembly holds public hearing on anti-open grazing bill

House Speaker Uche Okafor said the House, in its corporate wisdom, decided to subject the bill to proper public scrutiny given its sensitive nature.

• September 30, 2021

The Anambra State House of Assembly has held a public hearing on the open cattle grazing prohibition bill it was considering.

Giving his opening remarks at the hearing, House Speaker Uche Okafor said the House, in its corporate wisdom, decided to subject the bill to proper public scrutiny given its sensitive nature.

“The idea is to harness the inputs and opinions of diverse stakeholders on the matter so that whatever opinion that emerges will be a product of consensus opinion of all relevant segments of Anambra.

“To this end, a cross section of stakeholders, including farmers group, Miyetti Allah, Traditional rulers, religious bodies, Ohaneze Ndigbo, President-General, Civil Society Organisation, amongst others, were invited for the hearing,” Mr Okafor said on Thursday.

Mr Okafor said it is the expectation of the house that the public hearing would elicit expert opinion and the resultant law would serve the best interest of all.

Speaking earlier, John Nwokoye, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, representing Awka North Constituency, said that the bill would raise the intention to create an enabling environment for farmers and herders in the state.

Mr Nwokoye said that the bill also seeks to resolve permanently the crisis arising from the incessant killings and wanton destruction of farmlands in the state.

“I appeal for objectivity in submissions so as to receive the best report that will enable the legislature to resolve objectively,” he said.

Professor Jaja Nwanagbo, a consultant to the house on legislative matters, said that the bill is not an anti-herders bill, rather it is a bill to regulate movement of herders and ranching for development of agriculture and improved economy of the state.

Damian Okeke-Ogene, National Vice Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo, said that open grazing was banned in Igbo land in the 1980s when it was discovered that the animals destroyed people’s crops.

He said that the Igbos have been practicing ranching and described the re-opening of grazing issue in Igbo land as unnecessary.

He urged the lawmakers to ensure that they sustain the tradition of ranching and support anti-open gazing calls.

“Open cattle rearing has not aided economic development or growth of the agricultural sector in Anambra, we want open grazing banned for peace and economic growth.

“Foreign herders have invaded our land and tore the good relationship we had with the cattle rearers of the old, those Hausa born in Anambra are doing peaceful businesses here. It is the foreigners that are our problems.

“In Anambra for example, some communities banned open rearing of dogs because of the destruction it commits at times, the same decision was applied to animals like goats, cows and others in the 80s.

“This issue is not different from old decisions of the land, open grazing is not an economic helper,” he said.

Nnamdi Onukwugha, Commissioner for Agriculture in Anambra, said that the state has plans to equip the existing ranches and make it good for the business to thrive.

He disclosed that the state government has mapped out a new place for the cattle dealers in the state and appealed that other facilities associated with modern ranching be accommodated in the bill for the growth and development of the agricultural sector.

Bonaventure Enemaeali, Commissioner for lands in Anambra, said that the lawmakers should take into consideration that the state is erosion prone and has a very small sparse area of land.

Gidado Siddiki, South East Zonal Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and chairman in Anambra, said the group is open to any legislative resolutions reached by the house.

Mr Siddiki commended the house for its effort to ensure sustainable security and safety of lives, property and business in Anambra.

“I appreciate the essence of this revered legislative arm of Government in the quest for harmonious economic growth and social stability in Anambra,” he said.

He said that the group is not against any legislation banning open grazing but appealed that more time be given for some period of incubation for the rearers to work out ways to embrace a modern system of cattle breeding.

“Ranching at the moment is largely favoured and I will be happy to comply with the newest method,” he said.

He commended Anambra governor, Willie Obiano, for establishing the Anambra Cattle Menace Control Committee which has helped to reduce frictions between herdsmen and farmers in Anambra.

The public hearing was well attended by various dignitaries, and government functionaries amongst others.

Speaker Okafor assured that the committee in charge of the bill will give urgent attention to all the submissions made by the public, promising quick legislation so as to enact a law that will be fair to all concerns.

(NAN)

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