Anti-open grazing bill will promote peaceful co-existence in Enugu, says Speaker
Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Mr Edward Ubosi, says the anti-open grazing bill before the House was not targeted at any group or persons, but rather to promote peaceful co-existence in the state.
Ubosi said this while declaring open a public hearing on the bill for the Prohibition of Open Grazing and Regulation of Cattle Ranching on Tuesday, at the Assembly Complex in Enugu.
The speaker, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Uche Ugwu, said that the bill, now pending before the assembly, was aimed at ending the farmers/herders crisis which, he noted, had led to the needless destruction of lives and property in the state.
Ubosi said that the public hearing was to afford residents the opportunity to make contributions to the crucial bill, adding that every opinion expressed would be considered in the passage of the bill.
The bill, when assented to by Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, would forestall farmers/herders clashes, as well as the killing and raping of women by herdsmen.
The Chairman of the House joint Committee on the bill, Mrs Amaka Ugwueze, noted that the ban on open grazing would ensure the protection of lives and property of Enugu people which, she said, was the primary responsibility of the government.
Ugwueze, who noted that both economic and social activities would be at a standstill in the absence of security, added that the bill would also reduce the incidence of cattle-related road accidents.
In their separate submissions, the chairman of Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzo, and the Chairman of Town Union President General, Mr Paully Eze, said they supported the bill which, they described as long overdue.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Matthew Idu, in his remarks, pointed out that the problem of farmers/ herders crisis was most prevalent in Uzo-Uwani, emphasising that his ministry was always inundated with complaints from farmers on the destruction of their crops.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers in the state, Mr Paschal Echezona, expressed excitement over the introduction of the bill which, he said, they had advocated for before now.
Echezona charged the state government to apply technology in locating all the cattle ranches in the state when the law becomes functional.
The chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association, (MACBAN), in South East, Mr Siddiki Gidado, requested the assembly to give them one month to articulate the association’s position on the bill.
Gidado argued that the group were notified of the public hearing only five days ago, a situation which, he said, made it difficult for them to come up with a position because of the technicalities involved.
He said it was important for members of the association to be sensitised on the development, to avoid the misconception that the Enugu state government had given money to support the bill.