Enugu assembly passes Public Ranch Management Agency bill

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The Enugu State House of Assembly has passed the Public Ranch Management Agency bill.

The bill which was passed on Tuesday in Enugu by the lawmakers authorized the state government to set up an agency to manage both government and privately-owned ranches in the state.

Speaking before the passage of the bill, the member representing Igbo-Eze North Constituency II, Mr Clifford Obe, argued that the legislation would end the farmers/herders crisis in the state.

Obe said the farmers/herders crisis was responsible for the low agricultural output in the market.

According to him, many farmers have been driven out of their farms, which has resulted in the increase in crime and rural to urban migration.

“The bill will help people not to be afraid. It will make it a must for herders to register whenever they enter into any community.

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“It will reduce crime and how cattle messes up our city and rural communities because there would be an agency on ground to guide the herders.

“Above all, the state government will be able to collect tax from the herders, who before now do not pay tax,” Obe added.

Also contributing, M Okechukwu Aneke, representing Udi South Constituency, noted that there was no need for people to be afraid of the bill, adding that herders were not only Fulanis.

Aneke stressed that the herders had come to stay, urging the people to learn to co-exist with them.

The lawmaker reiterated that the bill intended to control the herders, adding that those invading and attacking communities in the state were not real herders.

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“This agency, when established, will have designated areas where the cattle and their herders will be stationed.

“Any herder, who is found in our bushes and not in the designated places, should be treated as an intruder and a kidnapper,” Aneke said.

Another lawmaker, Mr Chima Obieze, regretted that people condemning the bill are arguing about what they do not know, saying there is nothing on the bill for people to shout about.

Obieze asked the public not to discourage people from other parts of the country from coming to Enugu to do business.

He said the herders, who are mostly nomadic, should come to the state, pointing out, however, that they must operate in accordance with extant laws.

Mr Harrison Ogara, representing Igbo-Eze South, noted that the bill would guarantee peace between farmers and herders, and asked the executive arm of government to be strategic in its implementation.

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In his remark, the Speaker, Chief Uche Ugwu, assured the people of the state that the Assembly would not pass a bill capable of truncating peace in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a similar bill on “Open Grazing Prohibition” was passed by the last state Assembly  in 2021.

The passage came in line with the deadline issued by the Southern Governors for an end to open rearing of cattle.

The bill sought to “prevent the destruction of farms, farm crops, community ponds, settlements and property by open rearing and grazing of livestock. (NAN) 

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