Open grazing: Lagos proposes 21 years jail term for erring herders

The Lagos State government has moved to stop open grazing and trespass of cattle on land in the state, proposing a 21 years jail term for any herder found with firearms.

This was contained in a bill titled “Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill, 2021”, sent to the House by the executive.

While debating the bill during the plenary session on Monday, the lawmakers condemned the incessant moving of cattle by herders openly on farmland and roads in the state, adding that trespassing on people’s land would continue to threaten peaceful coexistence in the country.

Bisi Yusuf, representing Alimosho Constituency 1, said the bill was long expected and needed speedy passage, adding that the damages caused by open grazing in the state and the southwest were enormous.

According to Yusuf, “Open grazing has reduced food supply drastically. Cattle often eat up crops of farmers who most often borrowed money to farm. The acts of these herders have created a scarcity of food supply in the west. It is shameful that cattle move along the expressway, destroying markets. I am totally in support of the proposed 21 years jail term for defaulters.”

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Kehinde Joseph (Alimosho 2) described the open grazing system as an aberration in the 21st century, adding that the bill would help promote peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers.

Joseph said that the bill would also reduce crime and in the process, help increase farmers productivity, he, therefore, called for synergy among security agencies in enforcing the bill when passed into law.

Also speaking, Gbolahon Yishawu (Eti-Osa 1), described as shameful and alarming, the sighting of cattle on the streets and roads of Lagos, saying that a cosmopolitan state like Lagos should not entertain open grazing.

Yishawu noted that open grazing was inimical to the economic growth of the state, saying that the bill considers the economic impacts of cattle rearing and crop farming on the economy of the state.

“Economic losses will be reduced. It is a bill that looks at the economy of cattle rearing, and also the benefit of the economy of crop farming,” said Yishawu.

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In his view, Abiodun Tobun (Epe 1) said he supports the bill based on the conviction that open grazing brings a lot of embarrassment to Nigeria.

“ This is a country where you will see cattle entering classrooms, all this social malaise is totally unacceptable.The activities of herders are becoming security threats, so this bill should be strengthened to protect enforcers of the law if the cattle die in their custody,” Tobin said.

However, Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa in his position, said the House was taking the path of legalising the Southern governors’ agreement on open grazing, adding that there was a need to identify herders operating in the state by registering them so as to know their total number.

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