From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The people and residents of Enugu State yesterday gave explicit support and approval to the State House of Assembly to go ahead with enactment of the anti-open grazing law in the state.
Their full encouragement came during the Assembly’s Public Hearing on a “Law to prohibit open grazing, regulate cattle ranching and for connected purposes,” organized by Joint Committees on Judiciary; Agriculture; Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges and Youths, Sports and Culture.
Speakers at the Public Hearing most of whom were representatives of communities, groups and organizations, unanimously agreed that the bill as articulated by the State Assembly would be the panacea to the herders, farmers crisis that have claimed many lives and property in state.
However, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and the Hausa community in the state who might be affected by the law anti-open grazing law were uncomfortable with the approval and urged the Joint Committee to give them one month to come up with a position on the bill.
But leading in the approval for the House to proceed with enactment of the law, the Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzo, who was the second to speak said traditional rulers in the state had gone through the draft and were in total support of the law.
He said, “I speak on behalf of the traditional rulers of Enugu state, we’ve gone through the bill and we find it an excellent one and we do not feel like writing any other thing. We commend the House for a very good job done.”
The first speaker who spoke on behalf of Town Unions of Enugu state said the bill would curb the menace of killer herders and would cause the people of Enugu state and entire South East to hip a sigh of relief.
Speaking in like manner, Israel Chinedu who spoke on behalf of the youths noted that though the bill was overdue, it still came timely. He assured of the youths’ full support for the bill.
Many others especially farmers, Neighbourhood Watch, Administrators of Developmental Councils all spoke in support of the bill with one pointing out one or two topographic errors.
In his submission, the leader of Northern Community in Enugu state and Sariki Hausawa Enugu, Alhaji Yusuf Sambo, said the northerners in the state were for anything that would ensure safety and peaceful coexistence and asked the Chairman of MACBAN South East Zone, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki to present their submission.
Saddiki in asking for more time noted that they received the invitation for the public hearing last week Thursday and said, “In recognition of the time constraint above stated, I plead, on behalf of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria, and all the cattle business interest group in Enugu state, that the Honourable House allows us more time to articulate a position for submission to the House. I plead for a period of one month to enable us come out with a position.”
Earlier, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Uche Ugwu who declared the hearing open on behalf of the Speaker, Hon. Edward Ubosi insisted that the bill was not targeted at any group or body.
Stressing that what the House was doing was to ensure that it put the instrument on ground for peaceful coexistence, Ugwu urged the people to make their presentations with open mind.
Chairman of the Joint Committees and House Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Mrs. Amaka Ugwueze, who reeled out the objectives of the bill said it included, to prevent destruction of farms, farm crops, community crops, settlements, raping of farmers and to protect the environment.
Leader of the House, Hon. Ikechukwu Ezeugwu in his remarks called the attention of the people to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Chapter 2, section 13, saying that security and welfare of the people are the primary purpose of government.