A socio-cultural group, Igbo Patriots, has urged the Ebonyi House of Assembly (EBHA) and sister assemblies in the Igbo speaking states of the country, to pass the anti-open grazing bill.
The group’s Coordinator, Mr Obumneke Okafor, made the call when they visited to the assembly complex where it presented a letter containing its demands on Monday in Abakaliki.
Okafor also urged the Ebonyi government and governments of sister Igbo speaking states, to urgently sign such bills into law when passed by the assemblies.
“We are going round the Igbo speaking states of the country, including Benue to canvass for this demand and fortunately, Gov. Samuel Ortom has taken the lead in spite of the inherent difficulties.
“We are also urging the concerned governments not to allot any land in the states for any form of cattle colony as such measure will be stoutly resisted by the people.
“We are aware that some states are adopting policies to ensure harmony between farmers and herdsmen but these are only palliatives that have only temporary solutions,’’ he said.
He noted that roving cows would always stray into farms and destroy crops to the displeasure of farmers which would eventually lead to conflict between the herdsmen and farmers in the affected areas.
“It is also obvious that the herdsmen will shoot at the slightest provocation which will lead to bloodshed and crisis; all resulting from open grazing.
“Enactment of anti-open grazing laws will ensure that the herders adopt the ranching policy which is the modern, acceptable method of rearing cows across the globe,’’ he said.
The coordinator noted that the group conducted series of research and discovered that Ebonyi indigenes and those from other Igbo speaking states, were in total support of its demands.
“EBHA and sister assemblies should also empower the state governments to inaugurate vigilante groups to enforce the bill when signed into law as the police have failed to enforce such in other states.
“We also direct all commercial cattle rearers in the state and other areas to register with state governments for proper monitoring while constructing ranches for their cattle.
“We are giving EBHA three weeks to pass the anti-open grazing bill and if it fails, the group will report to the electorate for appropriate actions,’’ he said.
Mr Joseph Agbo, a don and the group’s trustee, called on Igbos to unite in ensuring that no part of their territory was used as cattle colony.
“Cattle rearing is a private business of some well-placed members of the society and if poultry operators for instance, can construct poultry for their birds, cattle rearers can construct ranches for their cattle.
“The three weeks period we gave EBHA members to pass the anti-open grazing bill is not an ultimatum but a long period which will be enough to pass it for the people’s benefit,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the House Clerk, Mrs Patricia Anasi, who received the group said that the Speaker, Mr Francis Nwifuru, travelled to Abuja on an official assignment.
She advised the group to submit their letter of demand at the Speaker’s office. (NAN)