The Lagos State government has moved to stop open grazing and trespass of cattle on land in the state, proposing 21years jail term for any herder found with firearms.
This was contained in a bill tittled: “Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill, 2021” sent to the House by the executive.
While debating the bill during plenary session on Monday, the members of the state’s House of Assembly condemned the incessant moving of cattle by herders openly on farms and roads in the state, adding that trespassing on people’s land would continue to threaten peaceful coexistence in the country.
Debating the bill, Hon. Bisi Yusuff (Alimosho 1) said the bill was long expected and need speedy passage, adding that the damages caused by open grazing in the state and Southwest was enormous.
Yusuff said: “Open grazing has reduced food supply drastically. Cattle often eat up crops of farmers who most often borrowed money to farm.
“The act of this herders have created scarcity of food supply in the west. It is shameful that cattle moves along expressway, destroys markets.
“I am totally in support of the proposed 21years Jail term for defaulters.”
Also contributing, Hon. Kehinde Joseph (Alimosho 2) described open grazing system as an aberration in 21st century, adding that the bill would help promote peaceful co-existence between herders and crop farmers.
Joseph said that the bill would also reduce crime and that by reducing crime it would help increase farmers productivity, calling for synergy among security agecies in enforcing the bill when passed into law.
In his contribution, Lukmon Olumoh (Ajeromi-Ifelodun 2) suggested that the state high court should be in position to try defaulters of the bill when passed into law, rather than Magistrate Court as proposed, adding this would not give room for jurisdictional issue.
Hon. Wale Rauf (Amuwo-Odofin 2), advised that the term ‘dangerous weapons’ in the bill should be well interpreted and defined before being passed so as to avoid unnecessary arguments in the future.
Contributing, Hon. Gbolahon Yishawu (Eti-Osa 1) said sighting of cattle on streets and roads of Lagos was shameful and alarming, noting that a cosmopolitan state like Lagos should not entertain open grazing.
Yishawu said that open grazing was inimical to the economic growth of the state, adding that the bill considers the economic impacts of cattle rearing and crop farming to the economy of the state.
He added that Lagos has 250 hectares of land in Ikorodu and another 750 hectares on Epe for ranching.
The Speaker of the House, Rt (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, said the House was taking the path of legalising the Southern governors’ agreement on open grazing, adding that there was need to identify herders operating in the state by registering them so as to know their total number.
Obasa further said there should be financial support for those who wants to go into ranching, saying that there was need for training of the pastoralists in order to prepare them ahead of the new system.
He thereafter committed the bill to the Committee on Agriculture and Cooperatives, and directed it to report back on Thursday.
The House also received a bill on the Value Added Tax (VAT). The bill is aimed at domestication the collection of VAT in the state.
Speakjng on the bill, Obasa said it would lead to “increase in revenue and increase in infrastructural development. This is in line with fiscal federalism that we have been talking about.”
The Speaker said the VAT law when passed, would help the state meet challenges in its various sectors.
He also urged the Lagos State government to do everything legally possible to ensure the judgement of a Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, is sustained even up to the Supreme Court.
He lamented a situation where about N500 billion is generated from Lagos State while another N300 billion is generated from other southwest states and paltry amounts are disbursed to them in return.
“It is an opportunity for us to emphasise again on the need for the consideration of true federalism,” he said.