The Oyo State house of assembly has passed a bill to ban open grazing in the state.
Move to ban open rearing, herding and grazing of livestock outside permitted ranches in Oyo State has been regurgitated, as the Open rearing and grazing regulation bill, 2019, passed the second reading stage at Wednesday’s plenary of the state House of Assembly.
The bill, sponsored by Speaker of the Assembly, Honourable Debo Ogundoyin; his deputy, Honourable Abiodun Fadeyi; Majority Leader, Honourable Sanjo Adedoyin and Minority Leader, Honourable Asimiyu Alarape, states that anyone who engages in open rearing or grazing of livestock is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years or a fine of N200,000 or both,
Specifically, the bill prohibits the movement of livestock on foot from one destination to another in the state, with all herdsmen mandated to submit themselves for registration and get an identification card, which must be worn at all times.
Cattle movement is only permissible by rail wagon, truck or pick-up wagon, while any person found moving livestock on foot is liable on conviction to imprisonment for one year or a fine of N50,000 or both.
The penalty for any herdsman who fails to register is imprisonment for two years or a fine of N100,000 or both, while anyone without identification card is liable on conviction to imprisonment for six months or a fine of N50,000 or both.
A minor is prohibited from grazing, rearing or herding of livestock except under the supervision of an adult, while anyone found guilty of possession of offensive weapon within or outside the ranch, is liable on conviction to imprisonment for one year or fine of N100,000 or both.
If the bill is passed into law, any herdsman wishing to set up ranches or anyone intending to graze livestock on ranches is expected to pay a permit fee with the permit, renewable after one year, subject to the governor’s approval.
Such herdsman is expected to apply for one year lease of land from the owner, and get the consent of the Ministry of Environment which will carry out an environmental impact assessment before issuance of the permit.
Also prohibited, by the bill if passed into law, is the sale, transfer or mortgage of any land leased to herdsman for the purpose of ranching.
However, the governor is empowered to revoke the permit, without compensation, to the herdsman for any breach of security.
The Ministry of Agriculture will also be empowered to impound any livestock found grazing or wandering or herding in an area not permitted as a ranch, while impounded livestock not claimed within seven days will be sold on auction to the public and the proceeds paid into the state’s coffers.
Furthermore, the bill stipulates that any herdsman found guilty of damage to farm or crops shall after evaluation of the damage by the ministry pay the prevailing value of monetary compensation to the owner of the farm.
If any person is injured, the herdsman will be deemed guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for three years or a fine of N50,000 or both.
In addition, the convicted herdsman will pay the medical bill of the injured person including relevant compensation determined by the court.
If the onslaught leads to death of any person, the herdsman, upon conviction, will be sentenced for unlawful homicide under the criminal code law.
Where any livestock strays into another person’s land and causes destruction to crops or contaminates any source of water supply, the herdsman will be liable to pay damages or compensation to the owner or community with a proprietary interest in the land or source of water.
To see to the implementation of the objectives of the bill is an Open Grazing Prohibition Task Force comprising representatives of the state government, security agencies, farmers’ association, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, vigilante and the judiciary.
The eighth Assembly had in 2017 also started similar move to prohibit open grazing, establish controlled grazing and regulate the activities of herdsmen in Oyo State, with the bill also passing the second reading stage.