Emmanuel Ani, Ado-Ekiti
Ekiti State government will build cattle ranches across the three senatorial districts of the state.
This was made known by the member representing Ikole state 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 held at the 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, Hon Adewumi Olusegun, while declaring the public hearing open, recalled how incessant attack on residents of Ekiti by herdsmen in recent times 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, Oba Oyebade Oladapo, in his remarks highlighted some of the havoc 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 cows and their rearers.
He also said his ministry had severally written to the Sultan, the IGP and other instrumentalities of the federal government with no positive result to show for it just as he urged Nigerians to emulate other countries where animals are reared without 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 cattle 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 Assembly to pass the bill in other to save the ministry from total collapse.
Executive chairman of Emure Local government area, Hon. Oguntuase, also prayed the House to speedily pass the bill because farmers across Ekiti State are suffering inwardly.
He lamented that many farmers, after farming with loans accessed from banks or other cooperative societies, see their produce trampled upon, destroyed or devoured by cows.
He called on the Assembly to input stiff penalty as punishment for those who go against the bill when it becomes law.
The herdsmen, represented by their legal adviser, Umar Imam, a lawyer, 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 herdsmen movements with weapons, said he is not against the prosecution of any herdsman found with AK-47.
He however urged the committee to have a second look at the recommendations he had submitted to it.
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 on Ekiti boundaries.
He however suggested that the only solution to the problem is the creation of Vigilante Groups which will comprise the DSS, Police, NSCDC, Immigration, Fulani Bororo, Fulani Ilorin among 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 by the bill.