Open Grazing in Delta: DTHA ‘ll ensure herders compliance – Deputy Speaker

Deputy Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly and House Committee Chairman on Legislative Compliance, Rt Hon (Barrister) Arthur Akpowowo, has assured citizens of the state that his committee will ensure that violators of the Delta State Livestock, Rearing and Marketing Regulation Law 2021, which prohibited open grazing are apprehended and prosecuted in Courts of competent jurisdictions.

He gave the assurance on Wednesday in Asaba, while speaking as guest of Orientation Panorama, the Peoples program on Voice of Delta 97.9 FM, and Melody 88.6 FM Warri, hosted by the Head of State Orientation Bureau, Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe and anchored by OnAir Personality, Blessing Usiagbada.

The DS of DTHA said the law seeks to prevent the destruction of farm crops, community ponds, settlements and properties caused by open grazing, prevent clashes between normadic livestock herder and crop farmers in the state, as well as prevent, control and manage the spread of diseases, implementation of policies that would enhance the production of high quality and healthy livestock for local and international markets, among others.

He cited several Sections of the Law which prohibit movement of livestock on foot, but shall be conveyed by vehicle from 6a.m to 7a.m and no night movement. Section 18(2) of the law is to the effect that first offender shall pay a fine of N300,000 or six months imprisonment or both, while subsequent offender shall pay N500,000 or one year imprisonment or both, just as section 19 of the same law gave express permission for the impoundment of live stock by relevant Task Force in the Local Government Area and owner shall pay N100,000 per livestock to the State Treasury.

Akpowowo, however acknowledged the fact that some herdsmen in the state are unwilling to obey the State Law, which banned open grazing in any part of the state, pointing out that his committee recently had fruitful deliberations with the State Committee on Livestock to work out result oriented strategies on how to effectively enforce compliance, apprehend and prosecute offenders.

On the issue of alleged arms bearing by some of the herdsmen, the Deputy Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, disclosed that the State Law on Livestock, Rearing and Marketing Regulation Law 2021, is silent on arms bearing, saying that there are federal laws prohibiting unlawful possession of firearms, emphasizing that it was and still the assigned responsibility of the Nigerian Police and other law enforcement agencies to apprehend and prosecute offenders in accordance with subsisting laws in force.

Rt Hon Akpowowo further disclosed that the House Committee on Legislative Compliance will on Wednesday next week, meet with head of Personnel management of the twenty five local government councils in the state, to brain storm on the need to upscale enforcement and strict compliance by Livestock owners and herders, and shall be directed by the House Committee to constitute Livestock Committee in their respective local government areas.

The Deputy Speaker, however noted that few violators were arrested and prosecuted since the Law came to effect, and that his committee’s assignment include; to ensure full compliance by herders and livestock owners to obey State Law which banned open grazing in any part of the state, adding that it was and still the sole responsibility of livestock owners and their agents to negotiate with local land owners for ranching or for safe keeping of livestock on lease agreement.

Rt Hon Akpowowo, repeatedly advised local land owners not to sell their land to herdsmen and livestock business owners, so as to avoid foreseeable land grabbing that would be very difficult to resolve, adding that prevention is better than cure.

And on the issue of unlawful killing of 17 soldiers in Okuama community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state, the Deputy Speaker said during plenary, the House observed a minute of silence in honour of the falling heroes, and that the state lawmakers condemned the incident.

He urged law enforcement agents and agencies to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of the heinous crime, while appealing to the military high command to carryout thorough investigations, so as not to punish innocent citizens for the crime committed by the fleeing culprits.

“For the purpose of clarity, the House Committee on Legislative Compliance shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that offenders are brought to book and prosecuted. Not just the Law on Livestock, all subsisting Laws must be obeyed, going forward.

“The Committee shall continue to appeal to the Commissioner of Police in the state, to ensure that more arrests and prosecutions are made to serve as deterrent to others.

“Delta State is peaceful. We are collaborating with constituted authorities to sustain and enhance peaceful coexistence in all communities across the state, to boost governor Sheriff Oborevwori’s efforts in peace building and security under his MORE agenda. The legislature and the Executive are partners in progress, but shall remain independent in accordance with the principles of separation of powers.

“The local government committee on Livestock will soon be constituted in the state, and that will to a large extent expand the scope of Compliance and enforcement. Law breakers in the state are strongly advised to repent, because we shall see that not that laws are obeyed in the state, no sacred cows.

“Killing of patriotic soldiers in the line of duty is unacceptable. The Okuama community incident cannot be forgotten so soon, I pray God to comfort the bereaved. The State House of Assembly during plenary totally condemned the unfortunate and unwarranted killings. The perpetrators shall be fished out and prosecuted.

“Governor Sheriff Oborevwori has done the needful to resolve this matter. He held fruitful discussions with the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Normalcy has been restored in Okuama community,” Akpowowo said.

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