Herdsmen Protest Against Anti-Grazing Bill At Taraba Assembly
No fewer than 2,000 herdsmen and their affiliates stormed the Taraba State House of Assembly in protest against the proposed anti-open grazing bill in the state.
The protesters converged on Jalingo, the Taraba state capital, and embarked on a procession through major streets before arriving at the State House of Assembly.
Bearing placards with different inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs in Hausa, they expressed their rejection of the proposed bill.
Security operatives were at the entrance of the Assembly to avert a breakdown of law and order and to prevent the protesters from advancing beyond their bounds.
Despite their presence, the protesters were relentless in their bid to make their grievances heard and pushed against some of the security personnel.
It took the intervention of the leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria to bring the situation under control.
The Chairman of the Association in the state, Alhaji Sahabi Mahmud, told the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Abel Peter, and some principal officers who came out to listen to the protesters that the proposed bill is unconstitutional and aimed at depriving them of their livelihood.
Responding to their request, the Speaker said there is the need for the state government to encourage ranching in Taraba State.
The Speaker later told journalists that the laws of the state is not for any particular group and urged people to take time and study the bill.
According to the Speaker, the right place for the protesters to table their complaint is at the public hearing and not the House.
The Prohibition of Open Grazing Bill and the Establishment of Ranches in Taraba State 2017 is an executive bill which has passed second reading and is due for public hearing.
The Speaker explained that the bill is aimed at preventing clashes between herdsmen which would be beneficial to the state.
He allayed the fears of the protesters that the bill is aimed at depriving herders of their livelihood, saying instead it is meant to improve the lives of livestock and herders.
According to the speaker, when passed and signed into law, the bill will checkmate the activities of criminals hiding under the guise of grazing to perpetrate all forms of crime.
He explained that the bill will not stop herdsmen from coming into the state but it will require herdsmen in the state to obtain permits.
Ekiti and Benue are the only two states in the country that have so far passed anti-open grazing bills and signed them into law.
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