Okon Bassey in Uyo
If a bill before the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for a law to regulate and control activities of herders, cattle, and other ruminants grazing in public places within the state is passed into law, any herdsmen found in possession of firearms shall be charged with unlawful possession of firearms.
The proposed law empowers the State Governor, by an order, to “designate land in each local government in respect of which cattle or other ruminants may be permitted to graze.”
The bill which has been read the second time on the floor of the house was committed to the joint house committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, committees on Environment and Mineral Resources.
The bill presented by the member representing Essien Udim state constituency, Hon Nse Ntuen, seeks, among others, to prohibit uncontrolled grazing by ruminants in areas which have not been designated by government as ranches.
With overwhelmingly support from the law makers, if passed by the House, the law will ensure that no cattle or other ruminants shall by any means move or graze at night anywhere in the state.
The bill indicates that “cattle movement and grazing are restricted to the hours of 7am and 6pm”, stressing that “any confiscated cattle shall be taken to government cattle ranches or any other designated areas as may be directed.
“Any property or farm products destroyed by the cattle shall be valued by the agricultural officers and made to be paid for by the herdsman”, Hon. Ntuen said; urging his colleagues to give the bill favourable consideration.
Reacting to the bill, the Speaker of the House, Barr Onofiok Luke said the bill is a reflection of the assembly’s people-centred philosophy.