Herdsmen, other cattle breeders or any other person (s) who rear or graze cattle or any other livestock openly in any part of Oyo State now risk at least five (5) years jail term or a fine of five hundred thousand naira (500,000.00) or both if found guilty.
The punishments attached to open grazing of cattle or any livestock in the state was contained in the recently passed anti-open grazing bill by the state House of Assembly.
“The Oyo State Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Bill, 2019”, was sponsored by the Speaker of the House, Adebo Ogundoyin, his Deputy, Abiodun Fadeyi, Majority Leader, Sanjo Adedoyin and Minority Leader, Asimiyu Alarape.
The bill was passed into law by the lawmakers on Thursday despite the resistance from some herdsmen in the state who threatened the Assembly with legal actions.
The bill when signed by the Governor and becomes law recommends five years imprisonment or a fine of N500,000.00 or both for anyone who engages in open rearing or grazing of livestock.
The bill which is currently awaiting Governor Seyi Makinde’s assent would be fully enforced as soon as the Governor appends his signature.
It recommends that subsequent offenders shall upon conviction be liable to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of N2 million or both.
According to the proposed law, the movement of livestock on foot from one destination to another in the state will also be pronounced illegal.
It recommends that herdsmen are mandated to submit themselves for registration and get an identification card, which must be worn at all times. It stated that cattle movement is only permissible by rail wagon, truck or pick-up wagon between 7 am and 6 pm, while any person found moving livestock on foot is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years or a fine of N500,000 or both.
Anyone caught without identification card is liable on conviction to imprisonment for one year or a fine of N100,000 or both according to the state anti-open grazing bill.
It also prohibits a minor from grazing, herding or grazing of livestock except under the supervision of an adult, while the minor or owner of cattle is liable on conviction to a fine of N300,000 or three years imprisonment or both.
The bill also recommends that cattle owners are restricted to grazing livestock in approved ranches where persons wishing to set up ranches are to obtain a permit from the state government for a period of three years, with renewal subject to the approval of the landowner.
It empowers the state Governor to revoke the permit, without compensation, to the herdsman for any breach of security.
It further recommends a N200,000.00 fine and two years imprisonment for herdsmen or cattle rearers found guilty for failure to register with the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It also stipulates that any herdsman who causes injury to any person is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for five years or a fine of N500,000 or both. Such a person who causes the injury shall be allowed to pay the medical bill of the injured person (s).
According to the proposed law, whenever any livestock strays into any person’s land other than a ranch and causes destruction of crops, the herdsman is liable to pay compensation to the owner with valuation to be determined by the Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
It further clarified that, if the onslaught leads to death of any person, the herdsman, upon conviction, will be sentenced for manslaughter under the criminal code law.
Also prohibited, is the sale, transfer or mortgage of any land leased to herdsmen for the purpose of ranching.
The proposed law also recommends that the Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development shall be empowered to impound any livestock found grazing or wandering or herding in an area not permitted as a ranch.
It states further that impounded livestock not claimed within seven days will be sold on auction to the public and the proceeds paid into the state’s coffers.
For these provisions to be enforced, the bill recommends the establishment of a task force to be named, “Open Grazing Prohibition Task Force”.
The “Open Grazing Prohibition Task Force” which will see to the implementation of the law, would comprise representatives of the state government, security agencies, farmers’ association, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, vigilante and the judiciary.