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Ekiti Conducts Public Hearing On Grazing Bill, Moves To Build Cattle Ranches

By Lere Olayinka
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Ekiti State government will build cattle ranches across the three senatorial districts of the state. This was made known by the honorable member representing Ikole constituency 1, Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan during a public hearing organized by the joint committees on agriculture and environment on a bill to regulate and control cattle grazing in Ekiti State at the hallowed chamber of the state house of assembly, Ado Ekiti on Wednesday.

The hearing had in attendance traditional rulers, representatives from the Agriculture, Environment and Justice ministries. Other participants include representative of security agencies, cattle rearers, vigilantes and other members of the public.

Chairman of the committee and deputy speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Adewumi Olusegun while declaring the public hearing open recalled how incessant attack on residents of Ekiti by herdsmen in recent time had drawn the attention of Ekiti State government and the need to control their activities. Hon. Adewumi who said the bill is first of its kind in the country expressed optimism that the bill when passed into law will enhance protection of lives of Ekiti people.

Chairman of Ekiti State Council of Obas and Ologotun of Ogotun Ekiti, HRM Oba Oyebade Oladapo in his remarks highlighted some of the hovocs wrecked in time past by herdsmen and thanked the state government for coming up with a bill of this nature which will no doubt save farmers and residents from the nefarious activities of the herdsmen.

Another traditional ruler, the Elemure of Emure, Oba Adebayo Emmanuel called for the creation of ranches for cattle rearers in the state, he also called on the government to make available irrigation facilities for farmers in the state. A house member from Gbonyin LG, Hon. Fajemileyin in his remarks told participants that the committee is not out to witch hunt anyone but to prevent properties and lives of the people of Ekiti from destruction.

Permanent secretary of the Agric ministry, Engr. E. Abegunde in his contribution said the problem is not limited to Ekiti State but peculiar to the entire West African region. He narrated how farmers develop high blood pressure consequent upon the destruction of their crops by cattles and their rearers.

The PS who said his ministry had severally written to the Sultan, IG and other instrumentalities of the federal government with no positive result to show for it urged Nigerians to emulate other countries where animals are reared without seen roaming the streets.

"There is justification for this action, cattle rearing should be seen as private business such as snail rearing, piggery, poultry and so on, modern technology should be adopted in the business, they should be confined in ranches, the energy the cattles dissipates in transit is converted to added weight which is an added advantage to the rearer", Abegunde said. A Director in Forestry department, Mr. Akinola in his contribution recounted how the herdsmen activities have rendered the ministry incapacitated via wanton destruction of seedlings in the nurseries across the state.

He pleaded with the honorable house to pass the bill in other to save the ministry from total collapse. Executive chairman of Emure LG, Hon. Oguntuase prayed the house to speedily pass the bill because farmers in their numbers across Ekiti State are suffering inwardly. He lamented that many of the farmers after farming with loans accessed in banks or other cooperative societies see their produce trampled upon, destroyed or devoured by cattles.

He called on the house to input stiff penalty as punishment for those who go against the bill when it becomes law. The herdsmen, represented by their legal adviser, Barr. Umar Imam agreed with the state government that there should be control over grazing in Ekiti but expressed reservations on some sections of the bill. The lawyer who justified movements with cutlasses, knives and catapults by rearers said he isn't against the prosecution of any herdsman found with AK-47.

He urged the committee to have a second look at the recommendations he submitted to the committee. Secretary of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Ekiti State, Zaiyanu Muhammed said the troublemakers are not indigenous cattle rearers but those transiting from Niger Republic, Sokoto, Chad and so on enroute Southern Nigeria. He said Ekiti is just a route and their heinous activities are committed in Ekiti boundaries.

He suggested that the only solution to the problem is the creation of Vigilante Group which will comprise the DSS, Police, NSCDC, Immigration, Fulani Bororo, Fulani Ilorin amongst others to curb the excesses of those in transit. Hon. Titilayo Akerele representing Ikole Constituency 2 in the House suggested that Nomadic corridors be established in the bill.