The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has signed the Anti- Open Grazing Bill passed by the State House of Assembly, into law.
The assent was in line with the resolution of the last meeting Southern Governors Forum had in Lagos on July 5, 2021, where southern leaders unanimously adopted September 1, 2021, as the deadline for the signing of the bills in their various states.
Akeredolu signed the bill into law a few days after President Muhammadu Buhari directed that 368 grazing sites should be reviewed across 25 states.
Buhari has shown preference for grazing routes and expressed reservations against anti-open grazing laws in the past.
Herders under the Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore have also said they will not recognise the Southern governors' anti-grazing laws, describing it as satanic.
The national secretary of the Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore, Saleh Alhassan, in an interview, said members of the organisation would not recognise any anti-open grazing policy in the country.
“We don’t recognise anti-grazing law. Nobody can do anti-grazing policy in Nigeria where we are constitutionally guaranteed the right of movement and occupation,” Alhassan said, referring to the September 1 deadline set up by the Southern governors to ban the open grazing policy.
“I think that (open grazing) has been overtaken by events where the federal government is reviving the grazing reserves and grazing routes. Ranches are coming up across the states. Any policy that will heat up the polity, I don’t think is desirable for the country now.”
This is as the September 1 deadline set aside by Southern governors for the banning of open grazing nears.
The herders said the planned policy had been overtaken by events, declaring the group's support for Nigerian government’s plan to revive grazing reserves, grazing routes and facilitate ranching in all the states.
But according to a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation in Ondo State, Donald Ojogo, Akeredolu signed the bill into law in his office on Tuesday.
“The move is in line with the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum at its last meeting in Lagos where September 1st was set as the deadline for Governors in Southern Nigeria to sign the Anti-Open Grazing Bill into law.
“This is worthwhile and a very laudable development aimed at stemming needless instances of skirmishes, conflicts as well as infractions on the enviably peaceful disposition of the good people of Ondo State.
“It is very pertinent to aver and indeed, reiterate that the Law shall rather, engender a more cordial, mutually benefiting relationship amongst residents of the State irrespective of ethnicity, religion or creed. For emphasis, no particular group of persons is the target.
“While it is the hope of Government that all residents would take ample advantage of this Law to enhance our socio-economic well-being in Ondo State, compliance of same shall be given the utmost attention. Government shall pursue with vigour, through lawful means, to ensure strict compliance.
“In this regard, details of the new Law shall be made available to the public for proper information, more depth of understanding on contents as well as other relevant areas”, the statement said.
The bill was passed on July 2, 2021, as parts of the efforts to finding solutions to issue if insecurity, cattle rearing as well as grazing of livestock in the state.