By Prof . Uzodinma Nwala
In 2016, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), following consultations with some of our respectable stakeholders submitted a Draft Anti-Open Grazing Bill to all the Seven (7) States in Igbo-Speaking Areas.
Only the Abia House of Assembly passed the Bill thereafter, awaiting to be signed into law by the Governor.
That initiative of ADF was sequel to her earlier intervention in both the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives, challenging the RUGA, CATTLE COLONY AND GRAZING ROUTES as were then proposed by the Federal Government.
Those programs eventual have been rejected by majority of the various states and nationalities within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Why is the Grazing of Cattle an issue and core one affecting the Security of lives and property in the Republic today?
Those who emphasize what they call herders-farmers clash as a major root-cause of the present bloody Security situation in Alaigbo and other parts of the Federation are right in a sense. The free roaming and grazing of cattle that lawlessly destroy the crops of helpless farmers is the major root cause of the problem.
What is more, criminals from West African and other countries have taken advantage of this situation to invade our communities wrecking all manner of havoc, killing, maiming, kidnapping our innocent citizens, rapping our wives and daughters with reckless abandon.
The Nigerian President, General Mohammad Buhari has himself confessed that many of these criminals come from Libya.
The most common identity of these criminals is that they hide under the movement of cattle.
Subsequent events show that the Buhari Regime and all other Fulani-controlled governments in the Federal Republic have encouraged this infiltration and invasion by the Fulani from other West African countries. They have not only opened the Nigerian borders to them they have officially invited them to come and occupy Nigeria.
Therefore, the first step in tackling the Security challenges, is to control the free movement and grazing of Cattle.
We are not saying that nobody should rear cattle. All we are saying is that open grazing of cattle is bad for our Security and is bad for our economy and our survival.
Therefore, the law banning open grazing of animals, cattle, goat and sheep is imperative for the above reasons.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE AND DINE URGENTLY?
We must “ASSERT OUR COLLECTIVE RESOLVE AND CALL ON OUR GOVERNMENTS TO ENACT THE ANTI-OPEN GRAZING LAW AS WELL AS PUT IN PLACE ALL NECESSARY MEASURES TO ENFORCE THE LAW”
OUR CUSTOMARY LAW!!
Above all and in the absence of State Law, we have our ANCESTRAL CUSTOMARY LAW which prohibits the roaming of GOATS, SHEEP, COWS, CATTLE, in our communities and farms.
We have Old Eastern Nigeria Law which prohibits the roaming of animals within the communitues.
In addition we have in Imo State an Anti-Open Grazing Law passed under the regime of Governor Udenta.
Such animals prohibited from open Grazing under our these laws are teetered to avoid the destruction of farm lands if they are allowed to roam freely within the community.
In most of our ancestral communities, women organize themselves and provide schedules for various groups of women to operate on assigned days, to monitor, arrest offending animals and handing them over to community leaders. The owners of such animals must pay approved fines before they can reclaim their animals
It is now imperative that we must compel our State Governments to Urgently enact the Anti-Open Grazing Law and provide all necessary measures to ensure their strict enforcement. This is one crucial step to ensure the security of lives and property in our Region!
ROLE OF COMMUNITY VIGILANTES
Today, virtually all communities have their VIGILANTE (Local Security Watch), Therefore, every community must be encouraged to set up their Community Vigilante. State Houses of Assembly and Governors should quickly enact enabling Laws to back such measures.
The State Governments and the various communities must provide the needed resources for their effective operation.
We must say NO to the so-called COMMUNITY POLICING Program being propagated by the Nigerian Police which some Governors are cowardly and for some other reasons are accepting.
To surrender our Security to the Fulani-dominated Nigerian Police is like asking the hawks to police the chickens!
We in the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) as well as other Religious and Civil Society Organizations in Alaigbo Call on our people to take their destiny into their hands.
Security Is the joint Responsibility of the People and their Government!
Any State Governnent that fails to take these legal and political measures to ensure the security of our ancestral homes must be declared an enemy of our people.
It is in this breath that both ADF and the Coalition of Alaigbo Religious and Civil Society Organizations support the “EndOpenGrazingNow Campaign” as well as the “One Million March” proposed for this August supported by ADF and other organizations which BVI has been promoting.
ADF is also urging our people in mainland Alaigbo and other areas to immediately follow-suit the courageous and patriotic steps being taken and enforced by our kits-and-kin in the ANIOMA areas of Delta State to prevent the invasion of their territory by Fulani Herdsmen.
Umuigbo our destiny is in the hand of God but our God expects us not to fold our hands and allow our ancestral land to be overrun by the invaders. We must fight for it and then He will give us victory!
Written by Prof . Uzodinma Nwala
ADF President .
Aug. 3, 2020