Following move to ban open grazing of cattle in Delta State, the state chapter of Cattle Dealers Association yesterday demanded at least 30,000 square metres of land in each of the 25 local government areas of the state, totalling 750,000 square metres.
The cattle dealers want the lands designated for livestock breeding and markets across the state. But the state government in a swift reaction, said lands for ranching in the state are for sale and advised the dealers to buy for their business.
The development came on a day youth leaders in the South East, under the aegis of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, asked the Department of State Services, DSS, to produce the murderous herdsmen who killed four farmers and injured six others in an attack on the agrarian community of Opanda at Nimbo, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State on Monday.
The youths also urged the South-South governors to enforce the ban on open grazing to avoid people taking them as unserious persons. This is even as Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, OYC, yesterday, expressed outrage over the attack by suspected killer herdsmen on Opando in Enugu State.
Cattle traders demand 750,000 sqr metres of land
The Cattle Traders Association, which made the demand during a public hearing on a bill to ban open grazing in the state titled, “Bill for a Law to provide for the Regulation of Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing and to Prohibit Open Grazing and related matters in Delta State,” said the provision of lands by the state government will help them stop open grazing.
At the hearing organised by the Delta State House of Assembly’s joint committee on special bills and that of agriculture and natural resources, the association of cattle dealers in a memorandum signed by the chairman, Alhaji Musa Shuwa, lamented that the 5,000 square metres designated as grazing area contained in the draft bill were grossly inadequate.
Shuwa explained that at present, the association maintained livestock (cattle) markets in seven towns in the state, adding that the smallest was situated on a parcel of land measuring about 4,500 square metres, while the biggest was about 7,000 square metres.
He said: “This is only for the markets. Also, each market takes delivery of not less than 800 cattle every week. Our members hardly sell all their cattle at the market, hence the need to feed the cattle by grazing.
“With the intendment of the draft of this bill being to ban open grazing, it is our respectful view that to have cattle within enclosed grazing (for the purpose of ranching) area would mean that a large space of land is needed for this purpose.
“While we acknowledge that the 5,000 square metres mentioned in Section 8 (2a) is only in the minimum, it is our modest view that even in the minimum, 5,000 square metres of land may not be the best starting point.
“We, therefore, recommend that to practically satisfy having an abattoir, veterinary clinic, livestock market, administrative office and security post as provided in Section 2 (b) to (g), Section 2 (a) should provide that the designated area shall comprise a minimum of 30,000 square metres of land.”
Chairman of the joint committee, Mrs. Pat Ajudua, had earlier at the public hearing, explained that the public hearing was to garner the inputs of the public, particularly major stakeholders in the making of the proposed law.
However, reacting to the cattle dealers’ demand, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said: “Well, they are talking to the lawmakers but the fact is that we have made it very clear that anybody who wants to do ranching should buy land and then start his ranch.
“If I want to do poultry business, I get a place, pay for it and start my poultry farm. For those who are doing piggery, they get a place and start the piggery. If you want to do cattle business, get your ranch but if the Federal Government wants to assist people to get a ranch, no problem just as they are doing FADAMA for some cultivations.
“If the Federal Government also wants to have ranching-assisted programme, there is nothing wrong with it.
“The business of animal husbandry and animal rearing is also the business of our people, whether they are Fulani or not. But for anybody to think that the government has that kind of land to give is not true. The local government in our system does not own land. The lands belong to individuals and families.
“If the only land I have is just 1,000 square metres, will the local government ask me to donate it? And perhaps, that is the only land I have to either build or farm. Will the local government tell me, this land we are taking it from you, for me to be doing what thereafter? That is why people need to be reasonable in making this kind of demand.”
S’East youths charge DSS to produce murderous herdsmen at Enugu community
In a similar development, youths who alleged that four persons were killed during the attack on Nimbo community in Enugu State, said at least 10 others were still missing, while six sustained various degrees of injuries.
They also charged South East governors to enforce the ban on open grazing of cattle in the region, as enunciated by Southern governors in their meeting in Asaba, Delta State, about two months ago.
In a statement signed by the President-General, and Secretary-General of Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, Goodluck Ibem, and Comrade Kanice Igwe, the youths called on Nimbo, and other South-East youths to mobilize themselves and guard their communities against any form of invasion by herdsmen.
While calling on the international community to come to the aid of Christians and southern Nigerians who they claimed had been allegedly marked for extermination, the group called on Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State to form a strong security outfit to guard border communities against intrusion by herders.
The statement read: “The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, the apex socio-political youth organisation in the South-East geo-political zone, condemns in strongest terms the attack by murderous herdsmen/terrorists that led to the death of four persons and missing of 10 at Opanda in Nimbo community, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu state.
“This is the second time in 2021 that murderous terrorists parading as herdsmen are attacking this very community for not allowing the murderous terrorists to feed their cattle in their farm settlements.
“The Department of State Services, DSS that is very good in attacking the homes of activists and killing their supporters should move into action and arrest those killer herders and bring them to court to face charges for murder and other offences committed against humanity.
“The law, they say is not a respecter of persons. Is the law now respecting murde-rous herders terrorists that up till this moment, we are yet to hear of the arrest of those killers?
‘’The DSS that has the capacity to go all the way to Kenya and abduct Nnamdi Kanu, and who moved from Abuja to Ibadan to attack the home of Sunday Adeyemi (aka Sunday Igboho) should also move immediately to apprehend the murderous herdsmen that killed the people of Nimbo community on Monday, July 26, 2021, by 2 am.
“We call on the good people of Nimbo community and other communities in the South East geopolitical zone to immediately mobilise their youths and guard their communities to avoid a repeat of what just happened at Nimbo community.
“The governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, should immediately form a strong and active indigenous security outfit to guard border towns of Enugu State to avert another invasion of the state.
“The governors of Southern Nigeria should stamp their feet on the ground and enforce the ban on open grazing, otherwise nobody will take them seriously in the future.
“What happened at Nimbo community happened because the leader of Miyetti Allah openly instructed his members to disregard the resolution of Southern state governors banning open grazing.
‘’The killer herdsmen/terrorists should be arrested for the killings at Nimbo community in Enugu State. This brazen madness of killing innocent Nigerians for refusing cattle owned by herdsmen to feed on farmers’ crops must stop forthwith.
“We, therefore, call on the international community to come to the aid of Christians and Southern Nigerians who have been marked for extermination without the federal government doing anything to stop the massacre of innocent farmers and Christians.”
Ohanaeze youths express worry, ask military to fish out perpetrators
Also reacting to the killings at Nimbo yesterday, Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, in a statement by its President-General, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike and the Secretary-General, Comrade Obinna Achuonye, stated that the attack was unacceptable.
The Igbo group also stated it was now time for the military to prove its mettle and arrest the perpetrators.
The statement read: “We woke up yet again to another orgy of killings by marauding herdsmen. This is not the first time Uzo-Uwani is experiencing this kind of carnage, as we have not forgotten in a hurry how Nimbo in the area came under a similar deadly attack, leaving scores dead.
“Now, we have a repeat of such gruesome and dastardly killings. We are in deep pain, we are in agony over this heartbreaking report.
“This is the kind of situation that necessitated IPOB’s formation of Eastern Security Network, ESN, as they watched helplessly over the years and our people were being slaughtered.’’
While knocking security agencies for doing little in the face of the mindless killings by suspected killer herdsmen, the youth group said: “It is quite regrettable that Nigeria security agencies display weakness anytime herdsmen are involved in crime but they become pythons when it comes to the ESN.
“We saw just a few days ago how the Army announced that they have smashed the camp of ESN in Amagunze, Enugu State, but the same military is unable to enter the bushes and capture herdsmen who are sending our people to their graves and raping our women.”