By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe Esq
The anti-open grazing law of Delta State, is now in force, and enforcement is deemed to be effective from the date the governor assented to it, which is 30th September, 2021.
The Law consists of PART I and PART II, with 28 Sections. Part 1 contains General Provisions while Part II provides for Transition Period, Special Task Force, Prohibitions/Penalties and Licenses.
Part I, Section 1(1) States; This Law may be cited as the DELTA STATE LIVESTOCK BREEDING, REARING AND MARKETING REGULATION LAW, 2021.
The law provides for the establishment of a Livestock Management Committee to be chaired by the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, with members from relevance government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, one member representing each of the senatorial districts, a representative of state cattle dealers association, state branch of the national union of butchers, a representative of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The functions of the committee is stated in section 4, which shall include;
(a) Subject to the approval of the Governor; establishing, controlling, managing and maintaining a designated area established under the Law;
(b). Designating and establishing Inspection Posts to ensure the entry of healthy livestock into the state;
(c). Subject to paragraph (d) of this section, conserving and preserving in its natural state the designated areas and ensuring the preservation and protection of any object of geological, historical, aesthetic or scientific interest;
(d). Approving the development of facilities within the designated areas;
(e). Registration and issuance of license to Livestock Breeders, Rearers and Traders;
(f). Considering for the approval of the Governor, applications for the establishment of private ranches, feedlots and homestead stables;
(g). Carrying out such other functions as the Governor may expressly direct in relation to Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing in the state.
The purport of the above section is that the cattle business is now regulated and the committee is saddled with the responsibility of receiving and processing of applications, and to ensure that all breeders and rearers as well as marketers are captured in the state database, and stakeholders clearly identified for effect control and management of Livestock business in the state.
PART II – TRANSITION PERIOD, SPECIAL TASK FORCE, PROHIBITIONS AND LICENSES: which shall come into effect three months after the Governor’s Assent.
Designated Areas shall have a minimum of 5,000 square meters of Land and may include one or more of the following;
(a) an abattoir, (b) a Veterinary Clinic, (c) a Livestock Market, (d) an administrative office; and (e) a security post.
The Special Taskforce shall comprise the following;
(a) the Chairman of the Local Government Council or his representative, as Chairman;
(b) a Livestock Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources;
(c) one representative from; the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Cattle dealers/Rearers Association in the Local Government, National Butchers Union of Nigeria in the Local Government, all Farmers Association of Nigeria in the Local Government, the Director of Personnel Management of the Council, as Secretary of the Task Force.
Section 12(1) States that no owner shall permit their Livestock to be at large, that is, not to allow their cattle or any Livestock to move freely out of the designated areas contained in the Law.
And subsection (2) of Section 12, States that where Livestock is found at large, the owner of the Livestock (including cattle) is deemed, in the absence of evidence in the contrary, to have permitted the Livestock to be at large.
And Section 13 of the clearly stated the field of Livestock production to include the following;
(a) having custody or control of Livestock in a Designated Area or Private Ranch;
(b) the establishment and operation of Private Ranches;
(c) Livestock Breeding/Production or Rearing;
(d) Livestock Trade, Processing or Marketing; or
(e) any other activities as the Commissioner may determine by Regulations issues in accordance with Section 16 of this Law.
Section 17 of the Law prohibited open Normadic Livestock Rearing and Grazing in the state. And offender shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction be liable to a term of two (2) years imprisonment or a fine of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) or both.
Subsection 2 of Section 17 states further that without prejudice to the remedies and/or penalties available under any applicable Law where a contravention under subsection (1) causes;
(a) damage to farm, crops or property of any person, the owner or manager of such Livestock shall after evaluation by the Committee of the damage, pay the prevailing value of monetary compensation of the farm, crops or property so damaged, to the aggrieved person;
(b) injury to any person within the State, the owner or Manager of such Livestock shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction be liable to not more than a term of two (2) years imprisonment and shall pay any medical bill of the injured person and such other compensation as the Court may determine; and
(c) the death of any person within the State, the owner or Manager shall in addition to any criminal liability for causing the death of such person, pay compensation to the family of the deceased as the Court may determine.
Section 18 of the Law, now in force in Delta State, deals with the prohibition of Movement of Livestock on Foot.
Subsection (1) says; Movement of Livestock on foot from one destination to another in the State is hereby prohibited. Such movement shall only be by vehicle between the hours of 6am and 7pm.
Subsection (2); Any person(s) found moving Livestock on foot within or across any part of the state commits an offence and is liable to;
(a) for a first offender, a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Naira (N300,000.00) or six months imprisonment or both;
(b) for a subsequent offender, a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00) or one year imprisonment or both.
Section 23 of the Law now in force in Delta State, states in Subsection (1) that; Any person who grabs land for the purposes of grazing or ranching or other related purposes commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a term of not less than ten (10) years imprisonment without an option of fine.
Subsection (2); Where the act in subsection (1) of this Section results in the loss of life, the person(s) who committed the act shall in addition to any criminal liability for causing such loss of life, if found guilty, pay compensation to the family of the deceased as the court may determine.
Subsection (3); Where in any Court proceeding under this Section, the dependants of the land grabber are found on such land, the Court may issue an order evicting them from the land.
Section 24 – Prohibition of Livestock Rustling. Subsection (1) Any person(s) who rustles Livestock from any designated area or Private Ranch commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a term of not less than three (3) years imprisonment or a fine if One Hundred Thousand Naira (300,000.00) per animal or both.
Subsection (2) “Without prejudice to the approval and/or penalties under any other applicable Law in the State, where a rustler;
(a) injures, or maims any person while carrying out his activities, he shall on conviction be liable to five (5) years imprisonment or a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00), or both, and payment of such compensation to the Livestock Owner as the Court may determine; or
(b) causes death, he shall, in additional to any criminal liability for causing such death, pay the Livestock Owner or the Owner’s personal representative such compensation as the Court may determine.
Sections 25, 26 and 27 of the Law now in force in Delta State, deals with the permission and inspection of Livestock before slaughtering. Payment of N300,000 fine for slaughtering any diseased Livestock in the State, while unlawful slaughter of Livestock attract a fine of N300,000.
Failure to obtain a License attracts N200,000 fine upon conviction, and buying Livestock from a place other than a Livestock market attracts a penalty of N100,000.00 upon conviction. Such Livestock shall be confiscated and sold in accordance with Section 21.
Section 21 of the Law provides for sale of such Livestock bought in a place other than a designated area, and those impounded and not claimed within seven days, and must be sold by auction to the public, and proceeds deposited in the Consolidated Revenue Account of the State.
Section 28, which is the last section of the Law, States the jurisdiction of the Court. It States that; Trials of any offence created by this Law shall be by summary trial in the Magistrates Court, provided that, where the Magistrate Court does not have jurisdiction, the High Court shall try such offences.
Thus, the Law gave jurisdiction to both Magistrates Court and the High Court of Justice.