Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has inaugurated Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (EGEM) to help in the enforcement of the state’s grazing law and warned that cows found to have violated the law should be killed and its meat shared among the people as part of “stomach infrastructure.”
Governor Fayose also said, while inaugurating the marshals in Ado Ekiti, on Thursday, that the state government, through the marshals, would collaborate with the police and other security agencies to tackle recalcitrant herdsmen.
Fayose also hinted that the marshals are not to carry arms and therefore “would rely on agencies empowered by law to carry arms to tackle armed cattle rearers.”
At the ceremony, attended by farmers, hunters, traditional rulers, youth groups, artisans and other groups, the governor noted that it was wrong for cattle to destroy other people’s property while the government watches without taking steps to protect the citizenry.
He said: “If the gains of peasant farmers are taken away in a jiffy, that is condemnable. We will bring to permanent end, the situation whereby some people take away the means of livelihood of others.
“On August 29, 2016, the Anti-Grazing Bill was passed by the House of Assembly and the bill was signed into law by me on August 30. Some people go as far as grazing in the night when farmers are no longer in their farms.
“Any cattle found grazing after the time stipulated by the law will be confiscated by the government. Such cattle will be sold or killed on the spot and shared to people as part of our Stomach Infrastructure programme.”
According to him, “the reality we must all face is that cattle farming is not different from fish farming, snake farming, poultry farming, snail farming, etc. Therefore, if fish farmers are providing their own ponds and poultry farmers building their own pens, while also buying feed for their animals, there is no reason cattle farmers should not also provide their own ranch and feed their cows without encroaching on other people’s farmlands.”
The governor, who said there must be a stop to the menace of innocent people being killed and the means of livelihood of farmers taken away, noted that “10,000 cattle cannot compensate for the life of a human being lost to conflict between herdsmen and local farmers.”
He, however, warned against cattle rustling by some people, and explained that the law was also in the interest of cattle rearers too, as their operations would be streamlined.
He warned the marshals that “this is not an opportunity to harass or intimidate innocent people. You are to enforce the law and not to break it. Anybody found going beyond his bounds would be dealt with accordingly.”
In her opening remarks, the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Modupe Alade, said the law had helped in curbing incessant attacks on local farmers by herdsmen and feasting on crops by cattle.
The Chairman, Hunters Association, Ikole Local Government, Mr Osasona Joseph Olukayode, commended Fayose for the initiative.
He recalled that it was the prompt intervention of the governor in Oke Ako-Ekiti early in the year when some armed herdsmen attacked the people, that sent a strong signal to lawbreakers to stay away from the state.