Herdsmen defy grazing restriction in FCT

IT appears the  Federal Capital Territory Administration has succumbed to the recalcitrant herdsmen who continue to defy directive of the authorities stopping open grazing of cows in the capital city.

In what could be described  as flagrant disobedience to the directive, herdsmen are still seen leading their animals to pasture in different parts of the FCT.

Investigation by the Nigerian Tribune showed that cows are still graze in the open around the National Stadium, Kubwa-Zuba Expressway, among other areas.

The Abuja Environmental Protection Board had in September, 2016 arrested nine herdsmen and confiscated about 35 cows and over 70 sheep from their owners for grazing in the FCT.

The herdsmen were later arraigned before a mobile court which fined them between N3000 and N7,000 for each of the animals.

The Director of the board, Mrs. Omolola Olanipekun, had said that her agency had held a meeting with the herdsmen where it was agreed that they would no longer graze their livestock in the FCT.

She had pledged to eradicate open animal grazing in Abuja in line with the FCT minister’s directive to the AEPB.

The chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Dino Melaye, had also raised the issue on the floor of the Senate where he suggested that cows found grazing in Abuja should be slaughtered.

But in spite of the arrests of the animals, the herdsmen had continued to defy the orders to stop grazing in the FCT.

An Abuja resident, Michael Itodo, told the Nigerian Tribune that cow grazing remained a common sight in most part of the Federal Capital Territory in spite of the restriction order against open grazing.

He noted that sometimes, motorists would have to wait for some minutes for the herdsmen to move their cows away from the centre of an Expressway.

However, an aide to the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Abubakar Sani, denied that the FCT Administration had given up on the issue, noting that plans were at an advanced stage to resettle the herdsmen at a game reserve.

Sani said: “No, the Administration has not given up on stopping open grazing of cattle in the FCT. Apart from the committee set up by the administration on the issue, the AEPB is still seizing cows and a number of them have been arrested.”