RESPITE may be coming the way of farmers in Oyo State as a law which prescribes death for any herdsman who launches an onslaught on farmlands and kills in the process is being proposed.
As contained in the Oyo State Open Rearing and Grazing Regulation bill, 2019, which has passed second reading, for any onslaught on farmland that leads to death, the herdsman, upon conviction, would be sentenced for unlawful homicide under the criminal code law.
Under the criminal code, culpable homicide attracts death penalty.
The bill further stipulates that if the farmers are only injured, the herdsman would be deemed guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for three years or a fine of N50,000 or both.
In addition, the convicted herdsman would pay the medical bill of the injured person, including relevant compensation determined by the court.
Where any livestock strays into another person’s land and causes destruction to crops or contaminates any source of water supply, the bill states that the herdsman would be liable to pay damages or compensation to the owner or community with proprietary interest in the land or source of water.
Furthermore, any herdsman found guilty of damage to farm or crops shall, after evaluation of the damage by the ministry, pay the prevailing value of monetary compensation to the owner of the farm.
The bill, jointly sponsored by the Speaker of the state Assembly, Honourable Debo Ogundoyin; his deputy, Honourable Abiodun Fadeyi; Majority Leader, Honourable Sanjo Adedoyin and Minority Leader, Honourable Asimiyu Alarape, is currently at committee stage.
The bill added that anyone who engages in open rearing or grazing of livestock is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years or a fine of N200,000 or both.
The bill, if passed into law, prohibits the movement of livestock on foot from one destination to another in the state. All herdsmen are mandated to register and get an identification card which must be worn at all times.
It stated further that cattle movement is only permissible by rail wagon, truck or pick-up wagon, while any person found moving livestock on foot is liable on conviction to imprisonment for one year or a fine of N50,000 or both.
The penalty for any herdsman who fails to register is imprisonment for two years or a fine of N100,000 or both, while anyone without identification card is liable on conviction to imprisonment for six months or a fine of N50,000 or both.
It prohibits a minor from grazing, rearing or herding of livestock except under the supervision of an adult, while anyone found guilty of possession of offensive weapon within or outside the ranch is liable on conviction to imprisonment for one year or fine of N100,000 or both.
The Ministry of Agriculture will also be empowered to impound any livestock found grazing or wandering or herding in an area not permitted as a ranch while impounded livestock not claimed within seven days will be sold on auction to the public and the proceeds paid into the state’s coffers.
If the bill is passed into law, any herdsman wishing to set up ranches or anyone intending to graze livestock on ranches is expected to pay a permit fee with the permit, renewable after one year, subject to the governor’s approval.
Such herdsman is expected to apply for one year lease of land for the owner and get the consent of the Ministry of Environment which will carry out an environmental impact assessment before issuance of permit.
Also prohibited, by the bill if passed into law, is the sale, transfer or mortgage of any land leased to herdsman for the purpose of ranching.
However, the governor is empowered to revoke permit, without compensation, to the herdsman for any breach of security.