Lagos State House of Assembly, yesterday, proposed a 21-year jail term for any herder found with firearms in the state.
The open grazing bill, which passed the second reading, was submitted to the Committee on Agriculture to report back on Thursday.
The bill is titled: ‘Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill 2021’.
In his remarks, Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, said the bill was timely and one that would ensure a harmonious relationship between herders and farmers in the South-West.
The speaker said: “Allocating parcels of land is not enough, but there should be the training of those who would go into ranching. Ranching is expensive and requires adequate preparation.
The lawmakers who spoke threw their weight behind the proposed jail term.
The member representing Alimosho 1, Bisi Yusuff, lamented the havoc herdsmen had caused in the South-West.
He said: “Open grazing has reduced food supply drastically. Cattle often eat up crops of farmers who borrow money to farm. The acts of these herders have created food scarcity in the South-West. It is shameful that cattle move along the expressway and destroy markets.
“I am totally in support of the proposed 21 years jail term for defaulters.”
In his contribution, Gbolahan Yishawu, Eti-Osa II, noted that seeing cattle on the streets is worrisome.
Also, Mr. Setonji David suggested collaboration between men of the Neighbourhood Safety Corps and the police in the implementation of the law when passed and assented to.
On his part, 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.
In his contribution, Lukmon Olumoh (Ajeromi-Ifelodun 2), suggested that the High Court should be in a position to try defaulters of the bill when passed into law rather than Magistrate Court as proposed.
Activist faults FG on grazing reserves
Meanwhile, a human rights activist, Mr. Femi Aborisade, yesterday, said that the Federal Government has declared war against Nigerians through its move to recover or create grazing reserves across Nigeria.
Aborisade, in a chat with Vanguard, said such a move by the Federal Government would amount to a declaration of war against Nigerians and fan embers of mutual ethnic hatred, conflict and avoidable bloodshed.
He said: “All 36 state Governors, nationally and regionally, have resolved that open grazing is unsustainable. It causes avoidable bloody clashes between herders and farmers. Rather, ranching should be embraced.
“I do not see how the Federal Government can achieve its project of creating or recovering grazing preserves across Nigeria.
“Firstly, the Grazing Reserves Act of 1964 was limited to the Northern Region; it did not apply to the other regions.
Secondly, section 1 of the Land Use Act vests land ownership in the territory of the state in the Governor for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“Therefore, administration of land in the territory of a state is in the control of the state government, not the Federal Government.”