Nigerian Senate to hold public hearing over cattle rustling

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian senate has resolved to conduct a public hearing as part of efforts to proffering a lasting solution to the cases of conflicts between herdsmen and farmers across the country.

The resolution came after a session of heated debate at the Plenary on a motion entitled; “tackling the perennial conflicts between farmers and cattle herdsmen,” which was sponsored by Senator Chukwuka Utazi.

Accordingly, the senate asked its committees on National Security and Agriculture to put strategies in place to carry out investigation, describing the development as matter of national interest and urgency.

The Senate also condemned the criminal activities of some elements among cattle herdsmen, who use the cover of their trade to perpetrate harrowing despoliation of people’s farm and engage in other sundry criminal activities.

Other resolutions adopted after the debate include advising cattle owners to ensure that grazing of their cattle does not infringe on the rights of farming communities and other farmers who engage in settled agricultural production.

The upper legislative chamber also urged the Federal Government to urgently establish ranches and grazing reserves across the country, and adopt other strategies to enable nomadic cattle handlers settle to modern system of livestock keeping and further urge Federal Government to negotiate all grazing reserves that cannot be easily encroached.

In the area of law enforcement, it urged security agencies to check proliferation of heavy and light arms that makes arms easily available to Nigerians, while urging states and local government to establish ranches and modern livestock facilities.

Senator Utazi in his lead debate noted that the conflict between farmers in various parts of the country and nomadic cattle herdsmen is posing grave danger to National security, harmonious communal life and national unity, stressing that perennial report of one form of conflict or the other everyday between these two economic groups across the country.

“Worried that tales of herdsmen being heavily armed with modern firearms concealed among the grazing cattle and the resultant criminal activities of some elements among the herdsmen bespeak of colossal security breach and a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

Worried also by the increasing reported cases of armed robbery, human savagery, rampant rape, maiming and kidnapping of their victims who are mostly land or settled farm owners who try to stop the devastations of their farms,” he said.

Contributing to the motion, Senator Banarbas Gemade noted that it was high time that the federal government established ranches across all the federation to allow for the herdsmen and their cattle graze in one place.

Also contributing, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, noted that Nigeria alone cannot resolve this crisis. Ekweremadu stressed that Nigerians should involve their brothers across the sub-region to help in finding a lasting solution to this perennial crisis.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki while appreciating Senator Utazi for moving the motion, urged the two committees to come up with a permanent solution to the incessant crisis between the farmers and the herdsmen.

Parliamentary Collaboration

In another development, the Nigerian Senate and the United Kingdom (UK) parliament have pledged to collaborate towards deepening the nation’s democracy and strengthening the ties that exists between both countries.

The pledge was made when United Kingdom parliamentarians in the International Development Committee led by Mr. Stephen Twigg visited the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in Abuja.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Mr. Sanni Onogu, in a statement said that Senator Saraki urged the UK through its Department for International Development (DFID), to extend their attention to parliamentarians in Nigeria, saying such move will make the legislators more assertive, autonomous and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the Nigerian electorate. 

He called on the parliamentarians to assist the country in building the capacity of her legislators and their aides in order to boost their skills in the act of legislation and support services respectively.

“I will appeal to you through DFID to also focus on the legislative arm of government because the changes that we want to happen in this country will depend largely on what we do here in the parliament both on the short, medium and the long term.”

He told the delegation that the National Assembly has taken it upon itself to provide an enabling environment that is conducive for doing business in the country.
“One of the things we have realised apart from the macro economic factors is the quality of our laws as regards to doing business. One of the first things we did in the Senate is to look at our existing laws and see how they are in sync with the ease of doing business. 

The World Bank report on ease of doing business does not rate Nigeria very well. So what we have done is to identify those laws that are both necessary and important and that if we review them will go a long way in making us more favourable to investment.

“It is key for us to create that enabling environment for investments that will create job opportunities for our youths.”

In his remarks, the leader of the United Kingdom Parliamentarians in the International Development Committee, Stephen Twigg, said the purpose of the visit was to evaluate the work of DFID in Nigeria and also to look into some of the big challenges confronting Nigeria in terms of economy, health, education and security.

“We are looking at the work of DFID – the Department for International Development – in Nigeria and we are also looking at some of the challenges that you face in terms of economy, health, education and security situation. 

I want to really say how much we value the relationship between our two countries – the partnership between Nigeria and the United Kingdom and part of our purpose in being here is to celebrate that relationship and to look at how we can strengthen and to deepen those ties,” he said.