The Oyo State Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Bill 2019, on Wednesday passed second reading at the state House of Assembly.
The bill, jointly sponsored by Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin; the Deputy Speaker, Honourable Abiodun Fadeyi; Majority Leader, Honourable Sanjo Adedoyin and the Minority Leader, Honourable Asimiyu Alarape, states that anyone who engages in open rearing or grazing of livestock is guilty of an offence and liable to seven years imprisonment or a fine of N200,000 or both if convicted.
Specifically, the bill prohibits the movement of livestock from one destination to another within the state, with all herdsmen mandated to submit themselves for registration and get an identification card which must be worn at all times.
The movement of cattle is only permissible by rail wagon, truck or pick-up while any person found moving livestock on foot is liable to one year imprisonment or a fine of N50,000 or both if found guilty.
The penalty for any herdsman who fails to register is two years imprisonment or a fine of N100,000 or both while anyone without identification card is liable to six months imprisonment or a fine of N50,000 or both.
A minor is prohibited from livestock grazing, rearing or herding except under the supervision of an adult while anyone found guilty of possessing offensive weapon within or outside the ranch is liable to imprisonment for one year or fine of N100,000 or both.
If the bill is passed into law, any herdsman wishing to set up ranches or anyone intending to graze livestock on ranches is expected to pay a permit fee and the permit would be renewable after a year, subject to the governor’s approval.
Such herdsman is expected to apply for one year land lease and get the consent of the Ministry of Environment which will carry out an environmental impact assessment before issuance of permit.
When fully operational, the bill will prevent destruction of farms, community ponds and properties through open grazing and rearing of animals as well as put an end to clashes between livestock owners and farmers while also protecting the environment from degradation and pollution.
The Speaker, Rt. Honourable Ogundoyin while commenting on the bill said it will make it an offence for anyone to engage in open rearing, herding and grazing of livestock in the state outside the permitted ranches and also provide opportunities for private investors who may want to have their own ranches in the state.
The Minority leader, Honourable Alarape (Atiba constituency ) and Honourable Hakeem Adedibu (Iwajowa constituency ) in their contributions noted that the movement of livestock around the state poses a great risk to farmers in rural communities and such is also unheard of in developed countries.
Honourable Jacob Bamigboye (Oriire constituency) and Hon Olawumi Oladeji (Ogbomoso North constituency) called for speedy passage of the bill in order to curtail the rising cases of farmers-herders clashes particularly in most agrarian communities in the state.
According to the bill, where any livestock strays into another person’s land and causes destruction to crops or contaminates any source of water supply, the herdsman will be liable to pay damages or compensation to the owner or community with proprietary interest in the land or source of water.
To ensure the implementation of the bill, an Open Grazing Prohibition Task Force comprising representatives of the state government, security agencies, farmers’ association, Miyetti Allah cattle breeders association, vigilante and the judiciary would be constituted.
While passing the bill to the House Committees on Agriculture and Security for further deliberations and scrutiny, the House also resolved to conduct a public hearing on the bill.
The eighth Assembly had in 2017 started similar move to prohibit open grazing, establish controlled grazing and regulate the activities of herdsmen in Oyo state, with the bill also passing the second reading at the time.
Other bills which passed through second reading at plenary include Ministry of Finance Bill, Ministry of Establishment and Training Bill, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Bill, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Bill and Ministry of Energy Bill.