A bill to regulate the slaughter of donkeys and establish ranches to mitigate the extinction of the animal has scaled second reading at the Senate.
The legislation was passed on Tuesday despite disapproval from the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe and Ajibola Basiru, the Senate spokesperson.
The bill sponsored by the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, seeks to regulate the slaughter of donkeys, establish the breeding and ranching of donkeys through the Export Certification Value Chain.
This is aimed at mitigating the extinction of donkeys given their aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational and scientific value to the Nigerian nation.
It also seeks to declare donkeys as an endangered species which as a result of indiscriminate slaughtering for the purpose of harvesting its skin, has greatly depleted the national herd of the animal.
Prior to the consideration of the bill, Mr Abaribe said the senate is not empowered to legislate on the matter going by the law.
He cited Section 4(4)a of the 1999 constitution and Part 17-20 of the Second Schedule.
These sections give the National Assembly powers to legislate on issues in the exclusive and part of the concurrent list, some of which include the health, safety and welfare of persons employed to work in factories and the establishment of research centres for agricultural studies.
The minority leader warned the Senate against breaking the law for “residual matters” that are the responsibilities of the state or local governments.
“We do not break laws for residual matters that are left for the states and local governments as the case may be.
“We are to make laws exclusively based on what is determined in the constitution. Livestock and matters of that nature are not expressly provided for in the constitution.”
Mr Basiru supported the minority leader. He said the fact that a matter is desirable, does not mean the Senate could legislate on it.
“For record proposes, the fact that a matter is deemed necessary, does not automatically confer on the federal legislative act and legislative competence.
“Section 1(3) is clear. That any law contrary to the provision of the constitution is to the extent of that urgency null and void. The basis of our existence and power is the constitution.
“By section 4(7) any matter not in the concurrent list is a matter for the states. It is beyond whether donkeys are going extinct or not…The fact that a subject matter is listed on the concurrent list, the federal government has the power to make the law. No, he said.
But the Deputy Whip of the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi, said the bill was necessary owing to the concern that donkeys in the country may go extinct.
“Every country should be concerned about their flora and fauna and the balance of the ecosystem. In the same constitution, the federal government is given the right to research. This is research work. And this bill is based on that…when you don’t want something to go into extinction.
“We are talking about conservation management.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, thereafter, ruled that the bill be considered.
“It is not for commercial purposes but to prevent extinction.” he explained,
“I feel that we can legislate on it. Economically, it is needed not in terms of selling it but in terms of keeping the environment balanced. I rule that we can go ahead and consider the bill.”
Leading the debate, Mr Yahaya said the legislation seeks to make Nigeria derive utmost benefit from the donkey hides export market which is worth millions of dollars by regulation instead of outright ban of the business.
The ultimate aim, he said, is to ensure the declassification of donkeys as endangered species.
Two other senators, Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo) and Adamu Aliero Kebbi) spoke in support of the bill and it was passed afterwards.
The senate president thereafter referred the bill to the Committee on Agricultural and Rural Development to report back in two weeks.
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