COW-O-CRACRY: THE RIGHTS OF COWS IN NIGERIA By Jude Ogida Esq
The sanctity of Cattle has become the heart and soul of nationaldiscourse in Nigeria.
Between the President who wants to activate what he terms to be old grazing routes as established in the constitution and the average herder who brazenly takes hiscows to people’s farms to feed, there seems to be a tacit agreement that the cows are far more important than the average citizen.
The law establishing grazing reserves were domiciled in the Grazing Law of the Northern Region of Nigeria (NN Law of 1965) during the first Republic (1963 – 1966).
At that time, the law functioned only in Northern Nigeria; gradually it was operated under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Use act of 1978, which granted powers to the Local Government to grant customary rights of occupancy for grazing purposes.
There is no known federal legislation on cattle grazing in Nigeria. The Federal Government is trying to arm-twist the Governors into providing land for the herders as a solution to the farmer/herder clashes.
This attempt to settle and pacify these herders seems to have emboldened them to the point of feeling entitled to other people’s land, rather than see themselves asbeneficiaries of benevolent neighbors.
One then wonders if there is an implicit goal when the Federal Government talks about giving the herders grazing reserves all over the Nation.
It is particularly mind-boggling when the figures involved are laid bare. For instance, Nigeria has a land mass of 923,768 square kilometres, and these grazing reserves are supposed to cover roughly 42,753.26 square kilometres. This is an estimated 21% of Nigeria’s landmass expected to be ceded by the States and Federal Government to cattle herders under pretext of making peace.
Also, the Federal Government has not considered that Nigeria’s predominantly young population, has quadrupled since the 1960s and that
forcefully taking land will generate conflict, economic deprivation, cultural dissonance, hardship and animosity.
All over the Country, there are numerous reports on the various news platforms about how these herders move with their cows with gross impunity.
They have been spotted walking their cows against traffic on busy streets, in the National Assembly Quarters, on airport runways, in schools and church buildings, roaming with flagrant disregard for the environment they are in.
They have been seen walking on train tracks, most recently in Kaduna where several cows were killed by a moving train.
A HERD OF COWS WALKING AGAINST TRAFFIC IN THE BUSY CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT IN ABUJA
The herders have been seen on people’s farms with the cattle ravaging crops, they have been known to attack the farmers who challenge them.
Recently, a medical doctor in Gudu, Abuja was shocked to find his corn field ravaged by roaming cattle and their minders.He was prevented from accosting them by fellow farmers for fear of reprisal.
An artisan in Lokogoma, Abuja had his beans farm destroyed by cattle while the herder stood by and challenged the artisan to stop him if he dared.
A cassava farmer in Ikpoba Hill, Edo State had his cassava farm utterly destroyed by these invaders too. Like the Gudu scenario, he was stopped by the residents and farmers around his farm, because they didn’twant the herder to come with his friends one night after several months to attack them because he accosted them.
The peculiarity with the cassava farm incident is that it happened in 1990! Simply, this disruptive invasion has been on fordecades.
Strangely, herders usually ask for compensation from the victims if clashes happen and their animals are killed.
Why would a driver, whose vehicle hit and killed a roaming cow on the expressway, be asked for compensation by a herder?
These herders act like they are above the law of the land and our security agencies are often complicit by being complacent or actually supporting their claims.
COWS ON A STREET IN JOS, PLATEAU STATE
A proactive or responsive situation would compel these herders to obey the law and sanction them for invading farms; frankly, they should be charged to court and fined, at least.
It is the absence of response by law enforcement that make these herders act withreckless abandon.
How do you take AK47s to a small farming community to mow down people becausethey attacked your cows to stop them from eating their crops? The law and security forces most times do not respond to these attacks. They do not question the notion of people taking the law into their own hands.
These situations create an atmosphere where genocide and anarchy walk side by side.
If it’s not checked decisively, it will consume everybody. Jude Ogida Esq.
Greater Edo Group.