Imo Anti-Open Grazing Law: Uzodinma Recants, Claims Misrepresentation

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State is perceived by Imolites as a sabotage to the Igbo nation

By Emma Ogbuehi

Buffeted by criticisms from different parts of the state and beyond, Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma has denied recent statement credited to him on open grazing in the state, admitting existence of the law.  He added however that the law was interpreted out of context by a section of the media. 

Uzodinma claimed that what he said was that farmers and herders were peacefully coexisting in the state as a result of mutual respect and understanding. The governor who spoke through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, admitted that the state has an open grazing law, which became operative since 2006.

Uzodinma had caused a stir when few days to the September 1, 2021, target set by the 17 southern governors for states in the region to enact anti-open grazing legislation, he openly went against the agreement reached with his colleagues, arguing that there is no law forbidding open grazing in the state.

The governor, who spoke with newsmen after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, argued that though there is no anti-grazing law in the state, his government was trying to regulate grazing activities through collaboration between the farmers and herders.

“I don’t have any law in Imo State for anti-grazing. But what we have done is that we are regulating grazing activities in Imo State under a partnership between our farmers and herders. They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in my office and agreed to work together. And both parties are going about their businesses without interfering or causing any grievance or anger to each other”, he declared.

Checks by this this medium, however indicated that the governor is not straight on the matter, given that there is an existing law against open grazing of cattle in restricted areas of the state. The law titled, “Imo State of Nigeria Law No 9, 2006”, passed by the State House of Assembly, emphatically listed areas forbidden for pastoralists from trespass and corresponding fines in the event of non-adherence.

In obvious damage-control measure, the governor admitted the existence of the law, stressing that it provided for areas that are restricted from open grazing and the herders have been abiding by it. He added that the MOU the farmers and Herders signed was to strengthen the existing law and it is working very well.

According to him, whereas a law on anti-grazing may be desirable, dialogue and understanding as is the case in Imo state were more effective in addressing the conflict. He commended farmers and herders in Imo state for living in peace and pledged the support of government towards ensuring that they sustain their cordial relationship.

The 17 governors of the southern states had in a meeting held in Lagos on July 5, 2021, urged states in the region to ensure that the legislation against open grazing of cattle was put in place on or before September 1.

Following the governors’ resolution, Delta, Osun, Ondo, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, and Enugu state governments had moved to enact anti-open grazing laws. The law was already operational in Ogun, Abia, Oyo, Ekiti, and Ebonyi states, before the governors’ resolution.

Culled from TheNiche.

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