Following incessant invasions of several human settlements and the upscale central business district/city center of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja by hundreds of herdsmen and their cattle, the National Assembly has been asked to pass a legislation clearly outlawing open grazing of livestock within the Metropolis.
Also the Taraba State House of Assembly has been commended for successfully and transparently passing the state’s version of the anti- open grazing law which the Rights group believes will fundamentally redefine the symbiotic relationship amongst farmers and private owners of cattle ranches and will increase the tourism potentials of Taraba State just like what obtains in most other civilized climes.
It urges other States in the Federation to borrow a leaf from Taraba, Benue and Ekiti States which now operate anti- open grazing state laws to check frequent violent attacks of farmers by armed Fulani herdsmen.
Making the clarion call is the pro-democracy and Non-Governmental Organization-Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) which lampooned the Federal Capital Territory’s Minister Alhaji Mohammed Bello for his abdication of functions and failure to curb the persistent invasions of herdsmen and their livestock within Abuja metropolis.
The media statement endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf was issued in Abuja.
HURIWA accused the Fulani-born FCT minister Alh. Mohammed Bello of probably allowing his private relationship with his fellow Fulani kinsmen to interfere with his official obligations to clean up the FCT and stop the apparently lawless herdsmen from defacing the environmental beauty of the FCT and constituting grave security threats to the nation’s capital.
HURIWA affirmed that the dereliction of duty in this instance by the Abuja minister constitutes a willful breach of his constitutional oath of office which obliges him not to allow his personal interests to interfere with his official functions and services he must render to the good residents of the nation’s federal capital.
The group warned that the persistent presence of unrestrained movement of cattle in and around the governmental business center of the Federal Capital whereby foreign dignitaries frequently move around constitutes global opprobrium for our nation’s international image as a nation that lacks implementable civilized clean environmental laws.
Besides, the Rights group carpeted the Federal Capital Territory administration for failing to take prompt and decisive steps to stop the continuous occupation by cows and herdsmen of the premises of the University of Abuja since the last one monthly thereby obstructing the smooth implementation of academic and non-academic activities by the students and staff.
The Rights group said the reason for the bad and abysmally poor State of environmental sanitation and frequent roaming of cattle and herdsmen within the city and the occupation of the university of Abuja by herdsmen and their cows has been made possible also by the systematic failure of the relevant committees of the National Assembly to compel the political administration of Abuja to clean up the city and stop the invasion of the City center and its environ by large herds of cattle and herdsmen.
Apart from constituting security threats to the lives and property of the citizens including the students and staff of the University of Abuja, the Rights group said the unrestrained roaming of cattle could pose health hazards should the livestock develop mad cow disease or any such emerging health risks which could inflict a massive epidemic to the population of Abuja.
The organization recalled with trepidation that even in civilized climes like the United kingdom with strict regulatory regime prohibiting open grazing of livestock the last time Mad Cow disease and foot and mouth disease broke out within animal ranches, the diseases somehow inflicted human beings just as the group lamented that should such an outbreak of disease happen in Nigeria with our traditionally slow pace of reaction to epidemics, the lives of thousands and millions of Nigerians would be endangered.
HURIWA Said it has become increasingly notorious that the officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board cannot effectively rely on the extant anti-street trading law that hitherto restrict the movement of livestock and herdsmen within the FCT thereby necessitating the call by the group for the National Assembly to take drastic measures to legislate against open grazing of animals within the FCT.
The Rights groups aid the cattle and the herdsmen have successfully destroyed several flowers planted all over the FCT with billions of tax payers’ money and wondered why the National Assembly which supervises the FCT has failed to ball out the residents from the persistent unhealthy invasions of live stocks and herdsmen.
“The ugly development probably would have been of less security concern if the herdsmen had kept their animals out of the reach of human habitation. Unfortunately, the sight of cattle roaming the highways at the city Centre, including within the precincts of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, the seat of government, is now a national embarrassment. From Asokoro to Maitama and Jabi, it is now a common sight for herds of cattle to block major access roads in broad daylight.”