Senate rejects controversial grazing bill

THE Senate, on Wednesday, rejected three bills seeking to establish grazing reserves in different parts of the country.

The bills, including one sponsored by Senators Barnabas Gemade, Chukwuka Utazi and Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, sought the establishment of ranches and grazing reserves in different states of the country.

But the Senate rejected the bills when the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, raised a constitutional point of order to knock them out.

Ekweremadu said the items being introduced in the bills were neither accommodated in the exclusive not concurrent legislative lists, adding that accommodating the bills would amount to a waste of legislative time.

Senator Gemade had sponsored a bill, entitled: “A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of National Ranches Commission for the Regulation, Management, Preservation and Control of Ranches and for connected purposes while Senator Utazi introduced another, entitled: “A Bill for an Act to control the Keeping and Movement of Cattle in Nigeria and for related matters thereto.”

Senator Kwankwaso, on his part, introduced a bill, entitled: “A Bill for an Act for the Establishment of grazing Areas Management Agency and for other related matters, 2016 (SB 292).”

According to the bill by Kwakwanso, an agency is to be created for the control management and demarcation of national and local grazing areas, ranches, and stock routes, while protecting public investment for economic and social benefits.

Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, had suggested that the three senators  harmonise the bills into a single entity but the lawmakers refused the suggestion.

While opposing the suggestion, however, Senator Gemade said the bills should be treated on their individual merits.

But the Deputy Senate President struck at that stage, when he raised a constitutional point of order to alert the Senate that the issues contained in the bills were outside the constitutional powers of the Senate.

“I will like to see somebody to show me anywhere in the exclusive list or concurrent list that has given us powers to legislate on this matter because they are not in existence,” he said.

The Senate leader, however, failed in the bid to persuade the Senate to allow the bills pass the second reading, so that the relevant Senate committees could decide their fate, as the senators rejected the suggestion.

Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, in his submission, said he had thought that the sponsors of the bills would agree for harmonisation because of their similarity, adding that since the agreement could not be reached, there was no need to keep the bills in custody.

“Before the point of order of Deputy Senate President, I had already put a suggestion that these bills came on the order paper based on the discussion I had with the two sponsors that these bills be consolidated.

“It is clear from the discussion today that it is not so and my view is that since the basis by which they came on the order paper has changed, the way forward is for us to step it down from the order paper of today. I will want the leader to move that we step it down from the order paper of today to another legislative day,” he said.