From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
An NGO, New Nigeria Initiative (NNI), has appealed to the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to lobby the state House of Assembly to expedite the signing of the bill prohibiting open grazing into law to curtail farmer-herder clashes in the state.
The President of the group, Mr Uwadiae Odigie, made the appeal when he visited the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Peter Aikhuomobhogbe in Benin.
He noted that Edo and the entire country were being gripped by endemic brutality, untold cruelty and awful cycles of events mastermind by criminal herdsmen, adding that Nigerians have been left to swim in the mud of hopelessness, societal frustration and palpable suffering.
‘NNI had in the wake of these attacks on June 2000 dropped a private bill on the prohibition of cattle grazing in the state house of assembly,’ he said.
‘But, regrettably, nothing came out of it and the result has been the reign of reckless bloodshed by criminal herdsmen in the state.
‘The unabated tragic drama mostly in Edo, spurred us to re-introduced a modified version of the bill we had presented in 2000 to the state House of Assembly.
‘We christened it a bill by NNI for a law to prohibit open cattle grazing in Edo. We have submitted this bill recently to state House of Assembly,’ he said.
The group, however, solicited the support of governor Godwin Obaseki to get the bill passed in record time
According to Odigie, there is need for permanent and profound change in our present security situation in the state.
He further drew the attention of the governor to the resurgence of mischievous activities being perpetrated by the outlawed Community Development Association (CDA) in Ovia East Local Government Area of the state.
‘We are therefore calling on your Excellency to investigate this unwarranted and unwanted scenarios to perpetually stop them from spreading to other parts of the state.
On his part, acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Peter Aikhuomobhogbe, said government was concerned about the security situation in the state.
‘Before now various communities have lived with herders peacefully but suddenly things changed.
‘Government is doing its best to ensure food security in the state. If the cattle continue to destroy farmlands, it will affect food security.
‘So, anything that will help nip the problem in the bud, government will support it.
‘We are very impressed that your group is concerned about this national problem,’ Aikhuomobhogbe said and disclosed that the state government was developing a policy on ranching to solve the incessant farmer-herder clashes.’