The Enugu State House of Assembly, on Thursday, passed the open grazing prohibition bill into law.
The bill scaled through the third reading after a clause by clause consideration.
The passage came in line with the September 1 deadline issued by the Southern Governors for an end to open rearing of cattle.
The State Assembly earlier in the week held a public hearing on the bill, during which the umbrella body of Fulani herdsmen, the Miyetti Allah had asked for one month extension to enable them make input on the bill.
However, at plenary on Thursday the bill was passed into law and would now be sent to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his assent.
The bill was sponsored by the leader of the House, Rt Hon. Ikechukwu Ezeugwu and other lawmakers.
It seeks to “prevent the destruction of farms, farm crops, community ponds, settlements and property by open rearing and grazing of livestock.”
It will also “prevent killings, Sexual molestation and clashes between arable farmers and pastoralists, Herders and rustlers.
“Protect the environment from degradation and pollution caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock.
“Optimize the use of land resources in the face of overstretched land and increasing population.
“Prevent, control and manage the spread of animal diseases.
“Create a conducive environment for large scale crop production and reduce incidence of road accidents caused by open rearing and grazing of livestock.”
The bill provides for ranches and any form of grazing outside permitted ranches is punishable as a criminal offense and upon conviction, such a person is “liable to a term of imprisonment of not less than three years without the option of fine as well as forfeiture of the herds of cattle or livestock under his or her control to the State Government.”
The law also prohibits a minor from grazing, rearing or herding of livestock without the supervision of an adult and going against this provision attracts a fine of N300, 000 by the guardian or parent of the minor.
The law provides for the leasing of land by any intending herder from the owners for a period not exceeding three years which will be renewable after expiration.
According to a section of the law, “Permits shall be issued to a Nigerian who is authorized to conduct business under the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Permits shall be for a period of three (3) years and renewable after expiration, subject to the approval of the land owner and upon the existence of other factors for the initial grant.”
The law also laid down the procedures to acquire a land to be used for a ranching in the state.
The steps include:
1. A Herder shall apply in writing to the owner of the land whereupon he intends to site his ranch.
2. The owner(s) after consultation with and the consent of the kindred head, community leaders who must include the town union executive and the traditional ruler of the community, may grant his consent in writing for three years lease of the land and on such terms and conditions as the parties may agree upon.
3. The Herder shall forward a written application for a permit to the Ministry alongside the consent of the owner and the kindred head of the land.
4. The Ministry of Environment shall carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the land applied for.
5. A copy of the report of the EIA shall be forwarded to the owner, the kindred head and the community leaders aforesaid, for considerations and their views thereon to be submitted at a joint meeting convened for that purpose by the Ministry within Thirty (30) days of receipt of the EIA.
6. The ElA report, if found suitable by the land owner, the kindred head and the community leaders, they shall recommend to the Ministry to issue permit to the Herder.
The law also said that any person who contravenes the provisions (1-3) stated above “is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to two (2) years imprisonment or a fine of N200, 000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira Only) or both.”