Hundreds of herdsmen from various parts of Oyo State on Tuesday converged on Igangan, an agrarian community in Ibarapa North Local Government area, and resolved to use legal option to stop the Oyo State Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation Bill 2019 which has already passed through second reading at the State House of Assembly.
The bill which was jointly sponsored by the Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin and the deputy Speaker, Hon. Abiodun Fadeyi had two weeks ago witnessed a public hearing where stakeholders including farmers groups and the Fulani community bared their minds on how to make it workable.
The National Chairman of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Sale Bayari, in an 18-page position paper presented at that forum, stated that “It is impossible in our country for any peasant small scale herdsman to go into ranching” and submitted that the bill if passed into law would punish poor herders.
The herdsmen, at their Igangan meeting presided over by the Sarkin Fulani of Oyo State, Alhaji Saliu Abduk-Kadir described the Oyo State Anti-Open Grazing Bill as “too draconian” and targeted at crippling herdsmen from practising their age-long cattle rearing activities across the state.
“We will go to court. We will seek legal redress if Oyo State Government insists on imposing this Bill on us,” the Fulani herdsmen unanimously resolved at the end of the meeting which lasted over five hours at the popular Kara Market in Igangan.
Reeling out the communiqué of the meeting to journalists, the Oyo State Secretary of Gan Allah Fulani Development Association, Mr. Garba Umar said the herdsmen had resorted to rejecting the bill in its totality because they perceived it as one that would cause serious setback to their means of livelihood.
For the Anti-Open grazing bill to be implementable, the herdsmen appealed to Oyo State Government to provide RUGA or grazing reserve for cattle rearers where there would be easy accessibility to water and grazing facilities.
Failure to do this, the herdsmen maintained, “the implementation of the bill as it is will cause commotion.”
Making an illusion to Benue State where the Anti-Open Grazing law is currently applicable, the Fulani herdsmen stated that it was the bill that resulted in that State having about four different Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps as opposed to the situation before in the state.
“It is simply this issue that threw up IDP Camps in Benue. And we don’t want all this to happen here in Oyo State where we have been living peacefully with our fellow farmers for ages,” the herdsmen submitted.
The communiqué read further: “However, if we are pushed to the wall, we know the next level. Our next level is to seek the legal option. We will go to the court of law over the matter.