By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The Abia House of Assembly has finally heeded to the cries of Abia people over the menace of Fulani herdsmen as the lawmakers Wednesday passed the anti-grazing bill into law.
Known as the Control of Nomadic Cattle Rearing and Prohibition of Grazing Routes/ Reserve Bill, 2016, the piece of legislation sponsored by Hon. Martins Azubuike, who represents Isiala Ngwa North state constituency, enjoyed unanimous approval of the state legislators.
The bill is aimed at putting in check nomadic cattle rearing and prohibiting grazing routes in Abia State and “for other matters incidental thereto”.
There had been several clashes between farmers and herdsmen in a number of Abia communities precipitating destruction of farm lands by cattle.
The Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Chikwendu Kalu, said that the anti-grazing law was not only important to the farmers, but also to the entire people in the state.
He commended his fellow lawmakers in the sixth Abia House for their determination in passing the bill.
Kalu, in a chat with journalists after the passage of the anti-grazing bill, urged security agencies to effectively implement the law, which is expected to take effect, once the state governor gives his assent.
When that happens Abia would join states like Taraba, Benue and Ekiti where anti-grazing law is operational.
The Speaker explained that the law provides that the entry of trade cattle into Abia shall be by rail or by road haulage and that movement of trade cattle to major towns in the state shall be by truck, trailers/vehicles or pickup van.
“The law also prohibits driving of trade cattle on hoof through any road or environs into the state,” he said, adding: “It also states that anybody found with the cattle on hoof through any road or environs in the state shall be guilty of an offence.’’
While the law provides that violators upon conviction is liable to a fine of the sum of N200,000 or six months imprisonment or both, it also states that “any cattle found on any road in the state shall be impounded by the Appropriate Authority or taken to the nearest ranch as may be provided by the Appropriate Authority in the state”.