Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, on Thursday in Ado-Ekiti, inaugurated the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals with the warning that cattle found being grazed after 6pm would be confiscated by the state government.
He also said the state government would collaborate with the police and other security agencies to tackle armed herdsmen, saying marshals are not to carry arms and, therefore, would rely on agencies empowered by law to carry arms to tackle armed cattle rearers.
The occasion was graced by all and sundry including the Hausa community, youths, the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, traditional rulers such as the Ewi of Ado, Oba Rufus Adejugbe, House of Assembly members, the police and other security operatives in the state.
The governor, who said there must be a stop to the menace of innocent people being killed and the means of livelihood of farmers being taken away, noted that 10,000 cattle could not compensate for the life of human being lost to conflict between herdsmen and local farmers.
While frowning at cattle rustling by some people, Fayose added that the law was in the interest of cattle rearers too, as their operations would be streamlined.
“We have a right to life and to survive and holding things for our survival especially peasant farmers, whose means of livelihood are taken away by cattle feeding on their crops. If the gains of peasant farmers are taken away in a jiffy, that is condemneable. 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 consficated by the government.Such cattle will be sold or killled on the spot and shared to people as part of our Stomach Infrastructure programme,” he said.
The governor added that the phone numbers of the marshals would be made public and warned the marshals against going beyond their mandate.
“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 dealth with accordingly,” he stressed.
In her opening remarks, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), 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.
He noted that it was inhuman for anybody to jeopardize the lives and means of livelihood of others because he wants to rear cattle.