THE legislators of the South East and South South House of Assemblies have rejected the controversial Grazing Bill presently before the Senate, saying that the bill should not be considered in any of the House Assemblies in the two regions.
This was even as the legislators have urged the Federal Government to restore the amnesty programme as a way of quelling the resurgent militancy in the Niger Delta.
Arising from their joint session in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the legislators said they are going to pass a bill restricting the proposed grazing bill in the two regions.
Speaking during the first ever joint plenary held at the Imo State House of Assembly, the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Dr. Acho Ihim who presided over the joint plenary, noted that the joint session has become necessary because of their shared social, economic, religious and even political interest, which will afford them the opportunity to discuss their collective problems.
Ihim who is also the Vice President of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), said that the apparent marginalization of the two regions which is evident in the distribution of national wealth, adding that the deprivation of the people in terms of equity, justice and fairness as well as incessant attacks on the people of the zone, gruesome murder of their kit and kin by the Fulani herdsmen killer squad even in their bedrooms are critical issues that require genuine solution to free the zone from the menace.
Moving a motion titled “Alternative to Militancy and Harmonization of Southeast and South-South position on Grazing Bill Proposal’, Hon. Blessing Nwagba of the Abia State House of Assembly, said that they cannot keep silent while their constituents are being killed by Fulani herdsmen all in the name of rearing cattle.
She pointed out that the cattle rearing business is a private venture, adding that those involved should take care of their business.
The lawmaker noted that the growing insecurity and culture of impunity being perpetrated by the Fulani herdsmen must be checked.
In his contribution, Hon. Hilary Bisong of Cross River state said that since the people of the South-east and South-south are predominately into farming, fishery and other businesses, if the Federal Government plans any grazing reserves for the Fulani herdsmen, it should also provide reserves for the farmers and fishermen, adding that the federal government should not think of using the people’s common wealth to settle a segment of the country.
He equally noted that the real owners of the cows are rich men who should establish ranches for their cattle as it is the practice elsewhere and that public resources cannot be used to fund private businesses.
Similarly, a legislator from Bayelsa State wondered if any person from the southeast and south-south can go to the North and start farming in any land without permission.
Hon. Frank Nwaka of Ebonyi State said that the zones have suffered so much deprivation, decimation and loss of lives, adding that no life can be exchanged for a common animal, while insisting that cows should not be allowed to wander about as if they are sacred cows.
The Deputy Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ugonna Ozuruigbo submitted that the total rejection of the grazing bill proposal has no option, revealing that the bill when passed will have a commission with a chairman to be appointed by the President to allocate lands to Fulani herdsmen and that the persons who have forfeited their lands cannot go to court, adding that their petition will only be approved by the Attorney General of the Federation for it to be given attention, while commending the southeast and south-south lawmakers for condemning the grazing reserve bill in strong terms. He said that the grazing bill has nothing good to offer to the country, especially the two zones but that it will cause more communal clashes.
They resolved that the Southeast and South-South House of Assemblies should pass bill restricting the grazing reserves bill, while urging the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to step up action, by calling on the security agents to fish out the persons behind the atrocities meted out to the regions and provide the necessary security for the people.
The lawmakers of the two zones also resolved that task forces comprising security agents be set up to checkmate the excesses of the Fulani herdsmen
They also called on the southeast and south-south governments to set up panel of inquiries to ascertain the reasons behind the menace.
In the same vein, the law makers called on the Federal Government to look into the grievances of the militants and find ways of addressing their agitation.
Right Hon. Ogbonnaya Francis Nwifuru, deputy leader, hon. Ogbonna Kingsley Ikoro, with other honourable members from SE/SS. My fellow honourable members from Ebonyi house of assembly: Hon. Victor Chukwu, the princess of EBHA, Hon. Barr. Chika Augusta Ude, Hon. Victor Aleke & others.
Credit Maria Udeh, Nwa Ada Biafra Afikpo Chic.