Grazil Bill: The Outcome of EDHA Public Hearing
It was an embarrassing state at Edo State House of Assembly on Thursday after it was discovered that the circulated grazing bill was different from the copy signed by the Clerk of the house.
The public hearing for the grazing bill started at about 11am and representatives from Edo State government, traditional institutions, Edo State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Bar Association and Association of Nigeria were present.
The Speaker of Edo Started house of assembly who immediately read his opening address thanked everyone for coming and emphasized on the need for the Public hearing.
The public hearing committee chairman, member representing Ikpoba Okha, Hon. Henry Okhuarobo also gave his welcome speech.
Speaking on the issue, Edo State government represented by the Solicitor – General of Edo State and permanent Secretary ministry of Justice, Barr. Wole Iyamu distant the executive from the proposal.
Barr Wole Iyamu who spoke in a very clear terms criticised the bill said the draftmen did a very poor job and observed that if they had carried the executive along in the drafting of the bill, the error in the bill would have been discovered and rectified.
Barr. Iyamu was referring to the failure of the draftmen in section 4 of the bill to define keywords like ‘Ranch, Grazing, Nomadic farming and Herdsmen’, Section 18 where the “dismissal” did not explain whether government officials would be responsible for the dismissal or those working in the proposed ranches.
The state government also criticized the aspect where there was no proper definition of the term “Designated Place” or where should be the exact designated place.
Edo Government spoke strongly against the collection of land from anybody in the state for the purpose of ranching as stated in the bill which it said was inconsistent with the Provision of the Land Use Act and recent Supreme Court Decisions. The government said it is not the owner of lands but the people as government is only a custodian based on the people’s trust, adding that it does not have the power to take land from the actual land owners and hand it over to another (herdsmen) for his personal business which is not for public interest.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) urged the EDHA to throw away the bill as it does not serve the interest of Edo people.
The Association argued that the bill tend to give privileges to the strangers who are in Edo State to do their personal business whereas, there are Edo indigenes who are also into other types of animal husbandry.
Council of Traditional Rulers:
The Oba of Benin who was represented by the Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief Edebiri and two other Palace Chiefs said the Palace did not give him the power to take a position on the issue, but advised that since the copy of the Bill given to him and other participants is quite different from what they met in the house, the hearing should be rescheduled to enable the committee put their house in order.
The Nigerian Bar Association, Benin Branch represented by the Chairman, Barr. Ede Aisenoguan thanked the sponsor of the bill. He called participants to encourage him as its moved has created an opportunity for Edo people to express themselves and make contributions which is aimed at tackling the problem of herdsmen activities in Edo State.
Aisenoguan said the Association was not in support of a total dismissal of the bill, urged other stakeholders to work together to come up with a more birthing proposal that will be accepted by all.
He however stressed that herdsmen should establish their ranches in Sambisa forest as Edo people have other things to do with their lands, adding that if there was going to be ranches, only Edo indigenes would be given the power to own one while the cattle rearers would be tenants.
NBA warned that if the power being seeked by through the creation of ranches is granted, the future problem will be worse than the current one.
The Veterinary Association of Nigeria
The group also condemned the Bill and made an illustration that one goats have the value of one Cow and if the owner of the ten goats can take care of them in his own back yards , they don’t see any reason why the owner of One Cow cannot take care of his one cow in his own back yard.
They also talked about other health challenges associated with having a ranches.