The Lagos state government has moved to stop open grazing and trespass of cattle on land in the state, proposing a 21 years jail term for any herder found with firearms.
The provisions were contained in the “Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill, 2021” sent to the House by the executive.
While debating the bill during the plenary session on Monday, the State House of Assembly members condemned the constant 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.
Contributing to the debate on the bill, a member representing Alimosho Constituency One, Chief Bisi Yusuff, said the bill was long expected and need speedy passage, adding that the damage 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 these herders has created a scarcity of food supply in the west. It is shameful that cattle move along the expressway, destroys markets.
” I am totally in support of the proposed 21years Jail term for defaulters”.
Mr Kehinde Joseph (Alimosho 2) described the open grazing system as an aberration in the 21st century, adding that the bill would help promote peaceful coexistence between herders and crop farmers.
Joseph said that the bill would also reduce crime. It would help increase farmers productivity, calling for synergy among security agencies in enforcing the bill when passed into law.
In his contribution, Lukmon Olumoh ( Ajeromi-Ifelodun 2) suggested that High Court should try defaulters of the bill when passed into rather than Magistrate Court as proposed, adding this would not give room for a jurisdictional issue.
Mr Wale Rauf ( Amuwo-Odofin 2) advised that the term ‘dangerous weapons’ in the bill should be well interpreted and defined before being passed to avoid unnecessary arguments in the future.
Contributing, Mr Gbolahon Yishawu (Eti-Osa 1) said the 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 damaging to the state’s economic growth, saying that the bill considers the economic impacts of cattle rearing and crop farming on the economy of the state.
“Economic losses will be reduced. It is a bill that looks at the economy of cattle rearing, and also the benefit of economy of crop farming”, said Yishawu.
Mr Abiodun Tobin (Epe 1) said, ” I support the bill based on the conviction that open grazing brings a lot of embarrassment to Nigeria. This is a country you will cattle entering classrooms, and all this social malaise is unacceptable.”
He said the herders’ activities were causing security threats, adding that the bill should protect enforcers of the law if the cattle die in their custody.
While adding his voice, Mr 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 “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, Chief Mudashiru Obasa, said the House was taking the path of legalising the Southern governor’s agreement on open grazing, adding that there was a need to identify herders operating in the state by registering them to know their total number.
Obama further said there should be financial support for those who want to go into ranching, saying that there was a need to train the pastoralists 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.