Published September 6, 2021
As the anti-open grazing and Value Added Tax (VAT) bills scaled second reading in the Lagos House of Assembly as sent by the executive, the state has proposed a 21-year jail term for herders found with firearms.
The bills were thereafter committed to the House Committees on Agriculture (anti-open grazing) and Finance (VAT) to report back on Thursday.
Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, described the ‘Prohibition of Open Cattle Grazing Bill’ as timely and one that would ensure harmonious relationship between herders and farmers as well as protect the environment of the state and the southwest.
The Speaker also suggested that the bill should provide for the registration of herders and prepare them for ranching.
He said: “Allocating parcels of land is not enough, there should be training of those who would go into ranching which is expensive and requires adequate preparation.”
Obasa noted that the VAT bill would lead to ‘increase in revenue and improved infrastructural development. This is in line with fiscal federalism that we have been talking about’.
According to him, the VAT bill, when passed into law, would help the state meet challenges in its various sectors.
He also urged the government to do everything legally possible to ensure the judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is sustained even up to the Supreme Court.
The Speaker lamented a situation where about N500 billion is generated in Lagos but it gets a paltry sum in return as allocation.
“It is an opportunity for us to emphasise again the need for the consideration of true federalism,” he added.
Bisi Yusuff (Alimosho I), lamented the havoc that herdsmen had caused in the Southwest.
According to him, farmers have continuously become afraid to visit their farms thus causing good shortage.
He also said many farmers had become indebted as they find it difficult to pay back loans.
The lawmaker advocated stiffer penalties for herders caught carrying firearms.
His position was supported by Kehinde Joseph (Alimosho II), who said open grazing in the 21st century was an aberration.
Joseph said the bill would ensure peaceful coexistence, reduce crime and help guide the activities of herders.
While Olumoh Saad Lukeman (Ajeromi-Ifelodun I) suggested that the High Court be made to handle cases from the enforcement of the bill when passed or the state should establish special courts for such purpose, Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa I) described Lagos as a cosmopolitan state and, as such, having to see cattle in the streets is worrisome.
He supported the bill because, according to him, it would give a level of security to the state and help reduce economic losses.
The speaker thereafter adjourned sitting till Thursday