The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has empowered and inaugurated a new security force known as the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshalls (EGEM) to wipe out the remnant of terrorism perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen in the state. He was quoted as saying:
“I will not sit back and watch when Ekiti people were being killed, their wives and daughters being raped and their sources of livelihood being destroyed under the guise of cattle rearing.”
During the inauguration of EGEM who now executes the recently signed Prohibition of Cattle and Other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti State Law, witness by all major stakeholders in the state, including traditional rulers, chiefs, local hunters, police, army, civil defence, private sector unions, among others, Fayose speech stated thus:
“Today, we have taken another bold step aimed at safeguarding the lives and properties of the people and residents of Ekiti State by inaugurating the Ekiti Grazing Enforcement Marshals (EGEM) and equipping them adequately.”
The governor recalled that the Prohibition of Cattle and other Ruminants Grazing in the State Bill was signed into law on August 29, by State House of Assembly.
“The law provides amongst others that; ‘No person shall cause or permit any cattle or other ruminants belonging to him or under his control to graze on any land in which the Governor has not designated as ranches, no cattle or other ruminants shall by any means move or graze at night and that cattle movement and grazing are restricted to the hours between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm.”
According to the law, herdsmen found in possession of firearms and other offensive weapons will be charged for terrorism; properties or farm products damaged by herdsmen’s cattle must be repaid by the perpetrator, whilst the cattle would be confiscated and sent to government ranches.
“We opined that lives of 5,000 cows cannot be equated with those of human beings that are being killed daily by herdsmen across the country and it takes very timid and compromised leaders to allow their people to be killed while they fold their arms on the altar of politics.
“Supporters and beneficiaries of open grazing have argued that cows, like human beings, have rights to move freely in any part of Nigeria and one question I have always ask is; what happens if poultry farmers, pig farmers, ostrich farmers or even snake farmers decide to exercise these same rights to freedom of movement of their animals?
“Imagine a situation where snake farmers also release their snakes to the streets and other people’s farmlands to look for what to eat as being done by cattle farmers.
“The reality we must all face is that cattle farming is not different from fish farming, snake farming, poultry farming, snail farming, etc. Therefore, if fish farmers are providing their own ponds and poultry farmers building their own pens, while also buying feed for their animals, there is no reason cattle farmers should not also provide their own ranch and feed their cows without encroaching on other people’s farmlands.
“Isn’t it even shameful that in this age that people celebrate their city centre, we now adorn our own with cows and their dung, such that cows are even competing for space with human beings in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other cities in the country?”
Hence, Fayose said if one must practice cattle farming in Ekiti, they must do so at designated locations.
We have taken it upon ourselves to champion this course of grazing control because no responsible leader will sit back and watch when his people are being killed, their wives and daughters being raped and their sources of livelihood being destroyed under the guise of cattle rearing.
In line with the law, any cow found destroying people’s farmlands will be confiscated and sold with proceeds handed to people whose farmlands were destroyed while herdsmen found with arms will face terrorism charge.
The Governor reiterated that the police force and other security agencies have been complement the trained EGEM to enforce the law and see to it that offenders are arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
Fayose also encouraged concerned members of the public to join the crusade against the menace of herdsmen by proffering information to the Grazing Enforcement Marshals. He said telephone numbers will be made available to the public.
He pledged to uphold his duty to protect lives and properties of Ekiti people and promised never to deviate from his duties and responsibility as governor no matter the situation.