From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Ekiti State Government and members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), the umbrella body of cattle rearers in the country, yesterday signed a communiqué to ensure smooth operation of the Anti-Grazing Law in the state.
As part of the strategies to prevent friction between the two sides, Governor Fayose has ordered cattle breeders operating in the state to register with the traditional rulers of their host communities to gain acceptance for grazing.
He said the free registration must, however, be done within the next 14 days after which the registered names would be forwarded to the state government for data keeping.
The event, which took place at the Government House, had farmers, traditional rulers, state government officials and MACBAN leaders and members from across the South-West region in attendance.
Fayose said having met a select group of herdsmen earlier in the week, he called a broader meeting to involve many stakeholders in the deliberation for better results.
“Those killed in Oke Ako are gone and cannot be alive again and we should not allow a repeat of such terrible incident. Ekiti people buy cattle from you and you are making profit. We are not asking for much, just for you to obey our law.The law is not targeted at those who obey the law.You have to register with traditional ruler of your host community.
“It is you who will inform the monarch of new faces coming to join you or pretending to be herdsmen. Going armed will not be tolerated. No form of weapon is allowed in Ekiti State for cattle rearing. A company will be monitoring your activities from the air. They have done air surveillance of Ijero Forest Reserve and we saw some buildings deep down the forest. We must all be security conscious,” the governor said.
Fayose said those playing politics with the controversy that initially trailed the implementation of the law were only being mischievous. He ordered the immediate release of cows already seized by the grazing marshals, but warned that any further violation of the law would not be tolerated.
Earlier, Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Owoseni Ajayi, said the law was drafted to curb the excesses of some cattle farmers. In his remarks, the South-West leader of MACBAN, Alhaji Mohammed Kabir, who said he was born and bred in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said his group had gone round states in the region to sensitise members on the need for peaceful co-existence.
He added that the effort resulted in the few recorded cases of herdsmen/farmers clashes in the region compared to the South-East and the Middle Belt.
Speaking on behalf of traditional rulers, Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Ajewole, said the governor spoke the minds of Ekiti people.
”What we want is what our governor has said and that is peaceful co-existence. Farming is our profession and what the governor told you is what the people are telling him. We are peace-loving here and not murderers. We want the peace to continue to reign and we are satisfied with how your leaders have spoken,” he said.