The Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State, Nze Ray Emeana has lambasted the state Governor, Hope Uzodinma, for giving a supporting statement on open grazing.
The governor has reportedly claimed there is no law in the state that negates open grazing.
Reacting to this in an interview with Daily Post, Emeana said the governor has demonstrated his ignorance about the office he holds.
“It is unfortunate because I won’t say that the governor lied but I think this is the highest display of ignorance of law governing the state where Uzodinma is the governor. It also shows the kind of government that exists in the state. I would have thought that the governor was misquoted but having seen the video myself. I feel the Attorney General of Imo State by now would have come out clearly to correct the governor and guide him and Imo people appropriately.
“It is most unfortunate that we have a system where there is no thought process, no engagement on the system of government in place of the key critical stakeholders and other arms and parts of government before a pronouncement of this magnitude is made. For the avoidance of doubt you know that the South Governors met and agreed to ban open grazing in the whole of the South and for our governor to come out open and absent Imo State from that agreement makes us a parallel state among committees of South States, even Northern states have come to say open grazing is outdated that the only way to go is ranching. The security crises we have in Imo State today, we can not go far without attributing it majorly to open grazing of cattle.”
He added, “For the avoidance of doubts, Imo State Law No.9,2006 signed by Chief Achike Udenwa, former Governor of Imo State on 19th January 2007 made it very clear and the Law is called a Law to prohibit the grazing of cattle in restricted areas in Imo State and matter related thereto.
“The law made it very clear that rearing of cattle means breeding of cows and others, taking cattle out on streets, and taking cattle out for grazing in Owerri Capital Territory within 5km radius measured from Douglas Road post office, Owerri and every part of Imo State is hereby prohibited.
“A cattle rearer cannot take his cattle into cultivated land within Imo State. Anybody who contravenes section 3 and some of these laws is guilty of an offence liable to a fine of N50,000.00. In the case of section 4, they will pay compensation to the crop owner to cover the total cost of crops destroyed by the cattle in addition to a fine which may be proscribed by the magistrate court.
“This is completely clear and unambiguous. It shows that this grazing thing is not new. You and I know that this has been pervading in this state for many years back and to solve all these problems Imo State House of Assembly in 2006 passed this bill into law and it was passed into law by the governor of the state.”
While expressing disappointment in the governor, he said “For a sitting governor of the state to wake up and say there is no such anti-grazing law beats my imagination and that of every right-thinking person. It is most embarrassing to say there is no anti-grazing law in Imo State.
“It is most embarrassing that our governor on national television says there is no anti-grazing law when there is one in Imo State. He went further to say there is an agreement between the farmers and herders, so where is the agreement and with which farmers? Our people will take time to plant cassava, corn and yam, people will come with their hungry cows into their farms, ravage their crops and kill the plants and the owners of the crops goes home with nothing and the governor does not consider it a responsibility to protect the owners of the crops. It is most embarrassing where we find ourselves in the state.
“Even the 1999 Constitution clearly gave the control of pests and animals as the responsibility of the Local Government. It is in the Nigeria Constitution that the Local Government should control the movement of pests and animals. This is why in a local government system there is a department called animal handlers. Their duty is to go from village to village and get animals that wander into other people’s farms. It is a fundamental function guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”