The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Edo State, says it has sent a draft bill to the State House of Assembly to prohibt open rearing and grazing of livestock and to provide for the establishment of ranches and administration, regulation and control and for other matters connected therewith.
The State Chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, who disclosed this while addressing journalists at a press briefing in Benin, said the bill was to assist the state government in tackling the herdsmen menace.
He noted that about 52 persons have been killed while over 150 men, women and children suffered various injuries as a result of herdsmen attacks on arable farmers in different parts of the state.
He alleged that Edo people were worried that despite the havoc being visited on the state by the herdsmen, the state government appeared unperturbed.
The PDP Chairman said the draft bill became inevitable after due consultation with critical stakeholders, civil society and farmers, adding the party has instructed its members in the State House of Assembly to present the bill accordingly.
The draft legislation which the PDP hopes will be cited as “Open grazing prohibition and Ranches Establishment law 2018” and shall come into force on the first day of November 2018, revealed that it has 36 sections with 76 sub-sections.
Section 3 of the bill details the main objectives, among others include to, “prevent the destruction of crop farms, community ponds,settlements and property by open rearing and grazing of livestock; and prevent clashes between nomadic livestock herders and crop farmers.”
The other objectives include; to, “protect the environment from degradation and pollution caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock; and to, “optimize the use of land resources in the face of overstretched land and increasing population.”
The bill also hopes to, “prevent, control and manage the spread of diseases as well as ease the implementation of policies that enhance the production of high quality and healthy livestock for local and international markets,” as well as “create conducive environment for large-scale crop production.”
“In the last few years, the incessant killings and maiming of farmers, raping of women and girls in their farms and communities by herdsmen have reached endemic proportion…these attacks are unprovoked as herdsmen and their cattle invade the farms and ravage the farm produce.
“We are a reasonable political party standing in guard for the good people of Edo state. We cannot stand by in the knowledge that the government’s vexatious policy on ban of night grazing is inadequate, not well-thought out and as a result a complete failure.”
Commenting on the benefits of the bill, Orbih said that, “if passed into law, it will prevent the destruction of farms and farm produce as well as protect lives and properties of farmers, their wives and children occasioned by open grazing.”
Meanwhile, Chief Orbih has ruled out any possible opposition to the bill by the APC dominated State Assembly, because the bill targets building a strong, safe and prosperous Edo State, adding that, “it is not a political issue because if herdsmen activities is not arrested, we will have a bad situation on our hands.”