From Joe Effiong, Uyo
A law to regulate and control activities of herdsmen, cattle and other ruminants grazing in public places in Akwa Ibom State has been mooted in the House of Assembly.
The bill to that effect was presented by Mr. Nse Ntuen, seeks, among others, to prohibit uncontrolled grazing by ruminants in areas which have not been designated by government as ranches.
The proposed law would empower the governor, by an order, to “designate land in each local government in respect of which cattle or other ruminants may be permitted to graze.”
If passed by the House, the law would ensure that no cattle or other ruminants shall by any means move or graze at night anywhere in the state; just as it will also make provision for the impounding of cattle or other ruminants.
Urging his colleagues to give the bill favourable consideration, Ntuen said: “It will also restrict cattle movement and grazing to the hours of 7am and 6pm.
“Any herdsmen found in possession of firearms shall be charged with unlawful possession of firearms. Any confiscated cattle shall be taken to government cattle ranches or any other designated areas as may be directed.
“Any property or farm products destroyed by the cattle shall be valued by the agricultural officers and made to be paid for by the herdsman.”
Speaker, Onofiok Luke, who described the bill as “a reflection of the Assembly’s people-centred philosophy, said there was need for the House to act proactively to safeguard lives and property of residents in the state.
“The House of Assembly is here to make laws that will safeguard the lives and property of our people at all times because this is what we were elected to do.”
Luke himself had in his first term in 2013 moved a motion on the floor of the House seeking full government control of the activities of herdsmen in the state.
He had warned then that it was important for government to take proactive steps to ensure that areas were designated for grazing, where herdsmen and their cattle would be put in close monitoring by relevant authorities in the state.