Awka – Anambra State House of Assembly on Tuesday passed the anti-grazing bill into law after the bill was read for the third time and overwhelmingly supported by members during the plenary session today.
The bill which is for a law to prohibit and abolish open and nomadic grazing, was submitted to the House a few weeks ago and has been painstakingly considered by the House before it was passed on Tuesday.
The Bill is expected to come into effect from after the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano would have signed it into law.
Some key provisions of the law include requirements for the establishment of ranches for which permits must be sort and obtained by the rancher, with full details of the rancher(s) kept with government authority in charge.
It also provides that “a person or group of persons shall not, after the commencement of this law, engage in open nomadic livestock herding or grazing in any part of the state whether day or night outside the permitted ranches.
“Any person or group of persons, who contravenes sub-section one of this section commits an offence and shall, on summary conviction, be liable to two years’ imprisonment or two hundred and fifty thousand naira fine or both.
“Where such contraventions cause damage to farm crops or property of any person the owner or manager of such livestock shall after evaluation of the damage by the management committee, pay the current monetary value of the farm crops or property damaged to the owner.”
The Bill outlined procedure for establishment of a ranch, ownership of ranch by indigenes, status and revocation of lease and ranching permit, establishment of livestock special task force, establishment and membership of the local government advisory committee among others.
The law also requires that existing ranches must be registered and be granted permits before they are allowed to continue operations.
Other sections of the law also dealt with sundry issues of concern to members of the public.
Section 24 expressly addressed issues connecting to land grabbing and other related concerns.
“For instance, section 24:1 provides that land grabbing is prohibited and attracts five years imprisonment. It further provides that when in the cause of land grabbing there is murder, then, the land grabber will be arrested and charged with murder.
“Section 25 of the law expressly banned the movement of cattle in the day or at night.
““Any cattle wandering whether in the day or at night, shall be impounded”, the law provides. It also stressed that seven days after the cattle is impounded, same shall be auctioned if the owner(s) fail to comply with other relevant provisions of the law. The proceeds from the auction shall be deposited to the coffers of the state government, the law provides. Section 32 empowers the livestock committee to arrest anyone engaged in open grazing.”
For registration of livestock and obtaining a permit, the law provides that between one and fifty livestock, the sum of twenty thousand Naira shall be paid to the government for permit. While for livestock above fifty, the sum of fifty thousand Naira is required for permit.
Speaker of the House, Right Honourable Uche Okafor in his remarks, commended the house for painstakingly passing the bill and read out the bill for passage, while the lawmakers supported it through a voice vote