A socio-cultural group, Igbo Patriots has urged the Ebonyi State House of Assembly and sister assemblies in the Igbo speaking states of the country, to pass the anti-open grazing bill.
The group’s Coordinator, Mr Obumneke Okafor, made the call when they visited the assembly complex where it presented a letter containing its demands on Monday in Abakaliki.
Okafor also urged the Ebonyi government and governments of sister Igbo speaking states, to urgently sign such bills into law when passed by the assemblies.
“We are going round the Igbo speaking states of the country, including Benue to canvass for this demand and fortunately, Governor Samuel Ortom has taken the lead in spite of the inherent difficulties.
“We are also urging the concerned governments not to allot any land in the states for any form of cattle colony as such measure will be stoutly resisted by the people.
“We are aware that some states are adopting policies to ensure harmony between farmers and herdsmen but these are only palliatives that have only temporary solutions,’’ he said.
He noted that roving cows would always stray into farms and destroy crops to the displeasure of farmers which would eventually lead to conflict between the herdsmen and farmers in the affected areas.
“It is also obvious that the herdsmen will shoot at the slightest provocation which will lead to bloodshed and crisis; all resulting from open grazing.
“Enactment of anti-open grazing laws will ensure that the herders adopt the ranching policy which is the modern, acceptable method of rearing cows across the globe,’’ he said.
The coordinator noted that the group conducted series of research and discovered that Ebonyi indigenes and those from other Igbo speaking states, were in total support of its demands.
“EBHA and sister assemblies should also empower the state governments to inaugurate vigilante groups to enforce the bill when signed into law as the police have failed to enforce such in other states.
“We also direct all commercial cattle rearers in the state and other areas to register with state governments for proper monitoring while constructing ranches for their cattle.
“We are giving EBHA three weeks to pass the anti-open grazing bill and if it fails, the group will report to the electorate for appropriate actions,’’ he said.
Mr Joseph Agbo, a don and the group’s trustee, called on Igbos to unite in ensuring that no part of their territory was used as cattle colony.
“Cattle rearing is a private business of some well-placed members of the society and if poultry operators for instance, can construct poultry for their birds, cattle rearers can construct ranches for their cattle.
“The three weeks period we gave EBHA members to pass the anti-open grazing bill is not an ultimatum but a long period which will be enough to pass it for the people’s benefit,’’ he said.
The House Clerk, Mrs Patricia Anasi, who received the group said that the Speaker, Mr Francis Nwifuru, travelled to Abuja on an official assignment.
She advised the group to submit their letter of demand at the Speaker’s office.
Bayelsa Assembly Committee on Environment To Curb Unlawful Sand Dredging Activities.
With various complaints and pettitions by communities impacted by the activities of illegal sand dredging and mining in the Bayelsa State, the state House of Assembly has organised a public hearing on a bill to regulate the operations of sand dredging to ensure that the environment is not adversely impacted on.
The bill tagged ” Regulation of Sand Dealing and Dredging Operations Bill 2019″ according to the House Committee on Environment is aimed at gathering inputs from experts, technocrats and the public in order to formulate a people-friendly bill that will serve the best interest of Bayelsans.
The House Committee Chairman on Environment and member representing Nembe Constituency one, Hon. Ebi Ben Ololo noted that the public hearing became necessary on the need to remediate the environment and tackle the challenges posed by sand dredging operations in the state.
” The importance of this bill cannot be overemphasized because it can save lives. You are aware a number of times so many communities and their representatives have sent pettitions to this House, specifically the Chairman House Committee on Environment as per the environmental degradation that has taken place as regards the illegal sand dealing and dredging activities in various communities all around the state”, he said.
“With those number of complains and pettitions we thought it wise to put up a bill to take care of those issues. Most important thing is that we all know that public hearing is a mechanism by which parliamentary Committees obtain information, deal with the information obtained and also exchange views with experts and the public so as to fine-tune whatever bill there is for the public hearing to come up with a top class bill that will be people- friendly and also save lives of the people in Bayelsa”, he added.
” Lots of suggestions, contributions, opinions and interactions have been made as regards this very important bill, like we have assured the representatives of the various groups that we will go back in our committee, look at those very important areas where they have suggested and also fine tune the bill. So that in no distant time we will come up with a very formidable bill that will stand the test of time. That the people will benefit from”, Ololo reassured.
He lauded participants for their insightful contributions and opinions during the public hearing, promising that the Committee would do justice to come up with a bill that would meet the expectations of Bayelsans.
In her contribution, House Chief Whip and member representing Yenagoa Constituency 2, Hon. Ebiowu Koku Obiyai lamented the deliberate connivance between communities and the sand dealers, warning that if nothing is done to regulate the activities of sand dredgers Bayelsa communities will be eroded away.
The House Whip also expressed concerns on the activities of companies carrying out dredging business near bridges and sued a delibrate efforts by all in order to save the bridges from collapse.
By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.
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