Two pan-Yoruba organizations, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN, and Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, have called on the police in Ekiti to cooperate with the state government to execute its grazing regulation law.
The law, “Prohibition of Cattle and Other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti, 2016”, was passed by the State House of Assembly last week.
The law followed the killing of two persons in Oke Ako, Ikole Local Government Area, in May by suspected herdsmen, Governor Ayodele Fayose said while assenting to the bill last Monday.
“Grazing activities must be from 7am to 6pm on daily basis,” the Speaker of the Ekiti House of Assembly, Kolawole Ogunwole said. “The government shall allot certain portion of land to each local governments for grazing.”
Any herdsman caught with firearms and any weapons whatsoever during grazing shall be charged with terrorism, the Speaker added.
But there is concern over execution of the law since, in Nigeria’s federalism, states do not have autonomous police institutions. Also, there is an extant federal law on terrorism which does not include carrying “firearms and any weapons whatsoever during grazing” as an offence.
The state police command, through its spokesperson, Albert Adeyemi, told PREMIUM TIMES that it has no knowledge of the new law “officially”.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, the ARG spokesperson, Kunle Famoriyo, said, “Once the law has been promulgated, it becomes imperative for the police to execute the law.”
Although the police is controlled by the federal government, Mr. Famoriyo noted, it is “managed by states through funding and other things.”
Apart from ammunition and uniform, states support the police with “all other things including logistics,” he added.
“Therefore, they have to cooperate with state government to execute the law.”
Similarly, DAWN’S Director, Dipo Famakinwa, said a working mechanism should be devised by the state and the police for the implementation of the law.
“The mechanism for execution should be worked out between the Ekiti State government and the federal authorities,” he said.
The law is “what I will describe as signalling,” he said. “It is” to say listen this is not be acceptable here. Statement has been made.”
On the possibility of non-enforcement by the police, Governor Fayose’s spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, said “there is no concern”.
He said, after passing the law, the government would “in days” take steps towards its implementation. He added that during the security meeting, the police will be “officially informed.”
As part of implementation steps, he said, land allocation for grazing across the local government areas would begin in the coming days.
“Timid” Southern Governors
Both DAWN and ARG expressed support for the law on the activities of herdsmen in Ekiti.
According to Mr. Famakinwa, herdsmen constitute “social and economic problems for us in the south west because their activities are unchecked and unregulated, and I don’t think its proper for anybody to leave his space open in that manner.”
“As a commission, we have asked our states to take steps to regulate the activities of herdsmen,” he added.
On his part, Mr. Famoriyo said, “What Fayose has done his correct.”
“He is the chief security officer of Ekiti State. And any law that he enacts to protect the interest of the state, is acceptable by us.”
“It’s just that most of the states in the South are timid. Some states in the North too have what is equivalent to state police that comes under the guise of Islamic Hisba police. We don’t have that in the South West.”
He encouraged Southern states to promulgate laws that will establish security agencies to “ensure protection and security of their people in their respective areas.”
“That’s federalism,” he said.
He also asked the other state governors to enact laws with a view to regulating activities of herdsmen.