FULL TEXT OF THE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE EKITI STATE GOVERNOR, MR AYODELE FAYOSE DURING THE INUGURATION OF THE EKITI GRAZING ENFORCEMENT MARSHALLS TODAY, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2016.
Today, we have taken another bold step aimed at safeguarding the lives and properties of the people and residents of Ekiti State by inaugurating the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshalls (EGEM) and equipping them adequately.
Recall that I signed the Prohibition of Cattle and other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti State Bill, 2016 into law on August 29, 2016, after the bill was duly passed by the State House of Assembly.
The law provides amongst others that; “No person shall cause or permit any cattle or other ruminants belonging to him or under his control to graze on any land in which the Governor has not designated as ranches, no cattle or other ruminants shall by any means move or graze at night and that cattle movement and grazing are restricted to the hours between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm.
The law also prescribed punishments for offenders, such as charging of any herdsmen found in possession of firearms and other offensive weapons with terrorism, payment for property or farm products destroyed by the cattle by the herdsmen and keeping of confiscated of cattle at Government cattle ranches.
In doing this, we opined that lives of 5,000 cows cannot be equated with those of human beings that are being killed daily by herdsmen across the country and it takes very timid and compromised leaders to allow their people to be killed while they fold their arms on the altar of politics.
Supporters and beneficiaries of open grazing have argued that cows, like human beings have rights to move freely in any part of Nigeria and one question I have always ask is; what happens if poultry farmers, pig farmers, ostrich farmers or even snake farmers decide to exercise this same rights to freedom of movement of their animals?
Imagine a situation where snake farmers also release their snakes to the streets and other people’s farmlands to look for what to eat as being done by cattle farmers.
The reality we must all face is that cattle farming is not different from fish farming, snake farming, poultry farming, snail farming, etc. Therefore, if fish farmers are providing their own ponds and poultry farmers building their own pens, while also buying feed for their animals, there is no reason cattle farmers should not also provide their own ranch and feed their cows without encroaching on other people’s farmlands.
Isn’t it even shameful that in this age that people celebrate their city centre, we now adorn our own with cows and their dung, such that cows are even competing space with human beings in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other cities in the country?
Therefore, here in Ekiti, if you must practice cattle farming, you do so at designated locations.
We have taken it upon ourselves to champion this course of grazing control because no responsible leader will sit back and watch when his people are being killed, their wives and daughters being raped and their sources of livelihood being destroyed under the guise of cattle rearing.
In line with the law, any cow found destroying people’s farmlands will be confiscated and sold with proceeds handed to people whose farmlands were destroyed while herdsmen found with arms will face terrorism charge.
The police and other security agencies have the duty to enforce the Prohibition of Cattle and other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti State Law, 2016 as well as other laws duly made by the State, by seeing to it that offenders are arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
To complement the police and other security agencies, we have set up the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshalls (EGEM), trained them and have them well equipped. I therefore inaugurate them today and urge them to perform their duties in the overall interest of Ekiti State and its people.
Members of the public also have a duty to join in the crusade to free our State from the menace of herdsmen by offering information to the Grazing Enforcement Marshalls. In this regard, telephone numbers will be made available to the public.
Once again, I thank you for your support at all times and as your governor, it is my duty to protect your lives and properties and no matter the situation, I will never shy away from this responsibility.