Civil rights group moves against ceding of 20 per cent of Edo land to ranchers

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From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin

A group, Edo Civil Society Organizations (EDOCSO), yesterday, opposed the proposed ceding of 20 percent of their communal land for ranching purposes by the state government, saying it is tantamount to the federal government’s plan of establishing the National Livestock Transformation Programme code named RUGA.

Addressing newsmen during a peaceful protest in Benin City, the Interim Executive Council Chairman, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, said they are constrained to be concerned with the way and manner the state house of assembly is going about the passage of the law aimed at prohibiting open grazing of cattle and other livestock in the state.

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He said the chief among their concerns is the deliberation by the committee of the whole on the percentage of communal or local government lands to be acquired for ranching which is between 10-20 percent.

He said what the state house of assembly is about to do will hunt and hurt their children’s children when new communities of herders would have become indigenous by reason of population growth and long stay.

The Interim Executive Council Chairman said cattle rearing is a private venture and should be left as it is, adding that owners of cattle have the financial wherewithal to buy or lease any size of land for their business.

He said it has become difficult for them to understand the rational of government in doing land acquisition for cattle owners when it has not done same for others in different agricultural ventures that requires land.

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He said the proposed law should be as simple as prohibiting open grazing of cattle and other livestock with penalties for violation.

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He said a businessman that intends to go into rearing of cattle also understand the requirements in making it feasible and that it should not be in the place of government to get such his business place.

Reacting, Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Marcus Onobun, tasked residents of the state to disregard the rumour that the government intends to cede any land, stressing that the bill, when passed into law, would be a workable document.

“Anybody that want to do businessman, the government’s responsibilities is to provide an enabling environment and not to give land to businessmen.

“What the government seeks to do, in this regard, is to be a regulatory body so that some communities will not connive, give land to strangers and, at the end of the day, it becomes a disaster to other community. So, the government has now chosen to set up a committee which they asked the house to empower them to be a regulatory body.

“The regulatory body will be tasked to ensure there is no ranch without approval from the government,” Onobun said.

Caption: The civil rights group during their protest against ceding of land in Benin City, yesterday.

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