Delta Gov Okowa signs anti-open grazing bill into law

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state has assented to bill prohibiting open grazing across the state.

The governor of the Niger-Delta state signed the bill into law on Thursday at the Delta state government house in Asaba.

The latest development comes a week after members of the Delta state House of Assembly passed the anti-open grazing bill which criminalizes the breeding, rearing and marketing of livestock in Delta state.

The bill was passed after the adoption of a motion by the Majority Leader of the House, Ferguson Onwo.

The Delta state speaker, Sherrif Oborevwori, presiding over the plenary during which the billw was passed, said: “Through the passage of this bill, the State House of Assembly has demonstrated its resolve to protect Deltans (residents) from the menace of clashes between herders and farmers.”

“I commend all the sponsors of this bill for recognising that the security of lives and properties of Deltans, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered), remains sacrosanct.”

Delta state is the latest in the growing number of southern states to criminalise open grazing in Nigeria.

Other states that have done the same include: Lagos, Ondo, Akwa-Ibom and Enugu states.

The call for the ban on open-grazing came as a result of the wanton killings and kidnappings perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen who use their cattle as an excuse to wreak havoc on innocent citizens and their property.

As part of their plans to end the menace of the herdsmen, the southern governors met in Lagos on July 5 and had far-reaching conclusions on open grazing, restructuring Nigeria, and calls for state policing.

After the meeting, the Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, announced that the governors have agreed on a deadline for the establishment of the anti-open grazing law in the region.

During a meeting of the governors held on September 16 in Enugu, member-states were reminded about the need to enact or amend the anti-open grazing law to align with the uniform template and aspiration of the forum.

They had commended the rate at which the states in the South were enacting the law and encouraged those yet to enact it to do so expeditiously.

But the position of the governors was faulted by some Nigerians, including the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who said it was unconstitutional.