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Ortom signs amended anti-open grazing law

Governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom has approved the amendment to the state’s anti-open grazing law.

Recall that Ortom on May 22, 2017 signed the Benue anti-open grazing bill into law as part of efforts to address the clashes between herders and farmers.

The law, among other things, prohibits the movement of livestock on foot within the state.

However, despite the law in place, clashes between herders and farmers have continued in the state.

On Thursday, Ortom signed the amended anti-open grazing law, which provides an upward review of the stipulated fine for violators of the provisions.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Ortom said the amended law is a “child of necessity, following killings, maiming and destruction of villages by militia herders”, which he said had led to the displacement of over 1.5 million persons.

He added that the amount charged as fine was too small compared to the sufferings encountered by the livestock guards and other security agencies while arresting animals that violated the law.

Any person found moving livestock on foot within or across urban centres, rural settlements or any part of the state or owner of those livestock or manager of a ranch from where the livestock emanates, commits an offence and is liable to: For the first offender, a fine of N500,000 and subsequent offender, a fine of N1,000,000, and for the owner of the livestock or manager of the ranch, a fine of N500,000 or one year imprisonment,” he said, while citing section 5.

He added that owners of animals impounded will pay fines of N50,000, N10,000, N5,000 and N1,000, respectively, per cow, sheep, goat and bird or poultry for violating the law.

“If the owner fails to pay the stipulated fine after seven days, the animal will be auctioned in line with amended law. Apart from the change in the fine, every other thing in the law remains unchanged,” he added.

The amendment provides that when the impounded animals are not claimed by the owner within 24 hours, an additional daily fine of N20,000 per cow, N1,000 per pig, N500 per sheep or goat and N100 per bird or poultry shall be paid by the owners of the animals.

Section 8 of the law also provides that “any person who employs, hires or involves a child to commit an offence under the ranching law shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to 14 years imprisonment or N5 million fine or both”.

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