Cattle rearers in Oyo are openly resisting the Oyo State Anti-open Grazing
Bill which they characterised as “too draconian” and aimed to strong-arm them into abandoning their age-long cattle rearing activities in the state.
They have vowed to drag the state government to court as the “Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Bill 2019” scales through the second reading at the State Assembly.
The bill co-sponored by Speaker of the house Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin and his deputy, Hon. Abiodun Fadeyi prompted a public hearing two weeks ago during which stakeholders including farmers, groups and the Fulani community vented their concerns and cross-fertilised ideas on how to ensure its workable.
During the hearing, Alhaji Sale Bayari, National Chairman of Fulani Development Association of Nigeria delivered an 18-page position paper in which he stated “It is impossible in our country for any peasant small scale herdsman to go into ranching” and submitted the bill if passed into law would punish poor herders.
On Wednesday, at a meeting held by Fulani herdsmen in Igangan, an agrarian community in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of the state proclaimed their readiness to seek legal redress if the bill is passed into law.
“We will go to court. We will seek legal redress if Oyo State Government insists on imposing this Bill on us,” the cattle rearers unanimously said, at the end of the 5-hour long meeting.
The state Secretary of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association, Mr. Garba Umar, while reading the communique of the meeting to journalists, said the Fulani herdsmen had resorted to rejecting the bill in its totality because they perceived it as one that would cause serious setback to their means of livelihood.
For the Anti-Open Grazing Bill to be implementable, the Fulani herdsmen appealed to the state government to provide RUGA or grazing reserve for cattle rearers where there would be easy accessibility to water and grazing facilities.
“The implementation of the Bill as it is will cause commotion,” they said.
Making an illusion to Benue State where the Anti-Open Grazing law is currently applicable, the Fulani herdsmen stated that it was the bill that resulted in that state having about four different Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps as opposed to the situation before in the state.
“It is simply this issue that threw up IDP Camps in Benue. And we don’t want all these to happen here in Oyo State where we have been living peacefully with our fellow farmers for ages,” the Fulani herdsmen submitted.