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Cows are not Nigerian citizens – Akpabio tells Northern senators after opposing move to ban open grazing

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Senate President Godswill Akpabio has argued firmly that cows are not citizens of Nigeria as senators from the northern region opposed moves to ban open grazing in the country.

Recall that a bill for an Act to ban open grazing and establish ranches as an antidote for the perennial violent clashes between sedentary farmers and nomadic herders in Nigeria, on Wednesday, scaled second reading after a slightly heated debate.

The proposal came after a motion on the bill was moved by Senator Titus Zam representing Benue North-West, who argued, in his lead debate, that the menace of farmers and herders’ crises can easily be cured through a legislative therapy banning open grazing in Nigeria.

His argument also hinged on the need to adopt international best practices in animal husbandry by establishing a law to stop open grazing to discard the old-fashioned, hazardous, and burdensome culture.

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According to him, the bill proposes ranching as the only viable alternative for cattle breeding in Nigeria. “The bill advocates for the urgent need to transit from traditional livestock-keeping methods to modern methods which are safer and healthier for both the herds and the herders.

“The bill proposes that ranches be established in the pastoralists’ state of origin without forcing it upon other states or communities that do not have pastoralists as citizens.

“The bill further proposes that interested parties in livestock business must seek and obtain approvals of their host communities to establish ranches for peaceful co-existence.”

A portion of the bill that proposed that ranches be established in pastoralist states without forcing it in other states that do not have pastoralist communities became the subject of contention.

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The bill, however, met stiff opposition from Senator Danjuma Goje from Gombe and his counterpart from Kebbi, Adamu Aliero.

In a now-viral video sighted by our correspondent, the northern senators described the bill as an attempt to contravene the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country by banning the free movement of herders and their cattle.

The lawmakers argued that cattle rearing and ranching activities are done more in northern Nigeria than in other parts of the country, reasoning that lawmaking should be for the entire country and not for a section.

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Aliero argued that cattle routes start from the far north and end in Lokoja and that the splitting of the northern region into 19 states has hampered the process.

However, the Senate President, in his opinion, maintained that cows should not be viewed as citizens of the country and thus do not enjoy any proportion in the Nigerian constitution.

He said, “Cows are not citizens of Nigeria, Senator Aliero, are you arguing with me? The section you are referring to is talking about citizens of Nigeria.

“And cows are not citizens of Nigeria. Cows can come from Niger, Chad or anywhere.”

Other senators who supported the bill contended that the proposed Commission would manage the farmers/herders crisis, hence, it should be passed.

The bill was passed after it was put to voice vote by Akpabio.

It was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Judiciary and Legal Matters to be reverted in four weeks.

The legislative measure is designed to address the challenges and conflicts associated with cattle rearing, ensuring a more structured and sustainable approach to the industry.

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