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Herders disregard restrictions on open grazing

Cows freely roaming the streets of Abuja despite ban.   -  
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@Michael Dibie


It's been over five years since the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, in Nigeria announced a ban on open grazing within the city center, but despite the ban, cows continue to roam the streets and roads of Nigeria’s capital freely, in disregard of the directives.

In 2016, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Muhammad Bello had prohibited the open grazing of cattle within Abuja, following series of complaints by residents of the city.

Legal practitioner, Rex Ogbuku says the issue of cattle and open grazing is a typical Nigeria issue and a big business for the brothers in the North especially politicians.

According to him, the issue lies in the fact that those who actually own these cows are the strong and mighty men in the country.

“The truth is that the government can’t do anything but how effective such a ban, as you can see it was in 2016 but we are in 2021,. Get to the National Assembly, get to the Central bank and in front of the police headquarters, you will see cows grazing, not actually grazing but moving around because there are no grasses to graze,” he added.

Although the Abuja Environment Protection Agency, this year had said that the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), had provided some alternative locations for cattle grazing.

But some say the practice is a serious threat to food production and security as the animals’ graze on farms, causing wanton destruction as they eat up crops.

Moses Abenga, a driver says the activities of these herders affect his business as they most times block the roads.

“I don’t know if it's because the president is a Fulani man that gives them the right to allow cows to move around the city,” Abenga said.

Ogbuku noted the problem is as a result of the country not being able to revolve as expected. He reiterated that it is something that needs to be put in order within the whole states where this has become a menace to residents.

“The will of government, the way, the machinery, the quasi acts of government in itself, has been coaxed in other words, it has been entrapped such that the government is not able to enforce it when it comes to these cows,” he added.

Open grazing has been the source of conflict between host communities and herders across the country, resulting in the displacement of residents, banditry and deaths.

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