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Rivers government approves proposed bill on open grazing ban

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The Rivers State Executive Council, yesterday, approved the proposed bill for a law to ban open rearing and grazing of livestock in the state.

Members of the council backed the proposed bill at a meeting presided over by Governor Nyesom Wike at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

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Briefing journalists after the meeting, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN), said it was impossible for the state to enforce resolutions of the southern governors on open rearing and grazing ban without an enabling law.

He said the office of the Attorney General drafted the legal instrument, which the state executive council adopted.

“On May 11, 2021, the Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF) met in Asaba and adopted some resolutions, most critical of which was that open rearing and grazing of cattle will remain banned in the south. Governor Wike was part of the meeting.

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“But we realised that we don’t have any extant law that criminalises or prohibits open grazing. And so, it became necessary for us to propose a bill for consideration by the council.

“The bill came to the council for deliberation. And after exhaustive consideration of its highlights, it was approved for onward transmission to the state House of Assembly for legislative action,” he said.

A statement issued by Special Assistant to the governor on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, quoted Prof. Adangor, as saying that when the bill is passed and signed into law by the governor, open grazing of livestock would be criminalised and prohibited in the state.

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“The bill is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the objectives of the bill and establishment of the state, councils livestock and ranch administration and control committees, among others,” he stated.

Adangor explained that livestock rearing activities would only be permitted within the precincts of ranches, which would be certified by the state government.

He also said council approved the proposed Rivers State Residence Registration Agency Bill that would make it mandatory for residents of the state to be registered, including visitors that intend to stay in the state beyond two weeks.

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“Of course, people can register physically or electronically and if they fall to register, that constitutes an offence under the bill, when passed into law,” he said.

Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Fred Kpakol, who also addressed journalists, noted that council approved the construction of a modern abattoir at Mgbuosimini in Rumuolumeni, Obio-Akpor Council of the state.

He said the new abattoir would be an integrated facility on 21 plots of land close to the seashore and would provide healthier beef for Rivers residents.

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