…as bill scales Second reading on the floor of the House

…proposed law seeks to outlaw possession of fire arms by cattle rearers

By Mfonobong Ukpong

A bill for a law to regulate and control cattle grazing in Akwa Ibom State and other matters connected, Tuesday scaled second reading on the floor of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
The private bill which is sponsored by the member representing Essien Udim State Constituency in the state legislature, Hon. Nse Ntuen and eleven other members of the House seeks to among other things control and regulate cattle grazing in Akwa Ibom State.

Titled, ‘A Bill for a law for the Prohibition of Cattle and Other Ruminants Grazing in Akwa Ibom State Lawmakers, 2016, the proposed law according to the sponsor, Hon. Ntuen is expected to protect farm lands in the state, their owners and by extension Akwa Ibom people from undefensible attacks by Hausa and Fulani cattle herdsmen whose grazing activities has become a source of concern in recent times in parts of the state and other parts of the country.

Leading debate on the bill, the lead sponsor, Hon Nse Ntuen explained that the decision to sponsor the bill which was first introduced on the floor of the House on November, 22nd, 2016 was necessitated by series of attacks on his constituents whom he said have fallen victim to attacks by herdsmen.

“This is a bill that will have impact on the people of the state. For many years we have witnessed the destruction of lives and property of the people of the state. I stand to condemn the negative impact of Hausa-Fulani Cattle rearers in my ward. If you come to Ukana where i come from, you will see for yourself the level of destruction in Ukana and other communities in Essien udim local government area”.

“Recently, the Hausa Fulani herdsmen carried their havoc to other parts of the state. An expanse of land in Ikot Ekpene close to Ritman University which was given to women for agricultural purposes have been destroyed by cows and the land has been deserted by the women. The land is now lying waste”.

Those who spoke in favour of the bill including, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Felicia Bassey(Okobo), Rt. Hon. Friday Iwok(Abak State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Barr. Ime Okon, (Ibiono-Ibom), Hon. Aniekan Uko (Ibesikpo Asutan), Hon. Mark Esset(Nsit- Atai), Hon. Otobong Jonathan (Ukanafun), Hon. Otobong Ndem(Mkpat-Enin), Hon. Nse Essien(ONNA), Hon. Effiong Bassey(Oron/Udunguko), and Hon. Uduak Ududo(Ikot-Abasi/Eastern-Oblo), were unanimous in their argument in favour of the bill. They commended the Essien Udim representative for coming up with the bill, saying it came at the right time.
The lawmakers animadvert that the bill would put to an end the unruly activities of cattle rearers in the state. They agreed that it would guarantee the protection of lives and property.
Reacting, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke referred the bill to a joint Committee of Agriculture and that of Environment for in-depth scrutiny, and directed the committees to report back to the House within three weeks for further legislative action.

Throwing more light on the bill in his office shortly after the day’s plenary, Hon. Nse Ntuen said if eventually passed into law, ”there will be peace between farmers, Akwa Ibom people and cattle rearers”.
He disclosed that the attack on his constituents by these cattle rearers made him to initiate the idea of sponsoring the bill.

The lawmaker hinted that major stakeholders including poultry farmers, cattle rearers, among other Critical stakeholders will be invited to make input during the public hearing that would soon be conducted on the bill.

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