By Oge Udegbunam
Against the background of concerns expressed by residents on the increasing sighting of cattle roaming the street in the city, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEDP) has said there are “no written laws” that ban the practice in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday in his office, the spokesperson of AEDP, Muktar Ibrahim, acknowledged that the immediate past Minister of FCT, Muhammad Bello, banned cattle from roaming in the city.
He, however, said the minister’s pronouncement was not documented as a law and is even at variance with the law that established the enforcement agency.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Bello, at a meeting with members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria in 2016, directed the association to nominate some of its educated young men to be part of the committee.
“You have to understand that when Abuja Environmental Protection Board says cattle should not roam the city, it is not because they want to prevent cattle breeders from raring cattle in the FCT. Basically, it is just for safety. It is for safety of your cattle and above all, safety of the citizens”, Mr Bello said.
He said herdsmen must move their cattle out of Abuja city.
The minister inaugurated a task team led by Abdullahi Monjel to keep the cattle off the streets of Abuja.
This decision came a few days after the Ekiti State government inaugurated a security team to enforce its ban on free-range cattle grazing in the state.
The law in Ekiti prescribes six months imprisonment without an option of fine for offenders. It also bans movement of cattle in the state after 6 p.m. and mandates that cattle be kept on certified ranches.
Southeast governors on July 10 said the movement of cattle into the geopolitical zone through the bush paths by foot will no longer be allowed.
Three years after the former minister banned the movements of cattle in the city, the animals are still being seen in parts of the city.
But the AEDP spokesperson said contrary to the former minister’s directive, it is not contained in the AEPB act to harass grazing animals.
He said the Act only has provisions concerning stray animals.
Mr Ibrahim said it is the duty of the agency to remove nuisance from the streets of the federal capital city. “That is why we will go ahead and arrest them (cattle herders in the city).”
He said three weeks ago, AEPB had a meeting with Myetti Allah on how to restrain the movement of cattle in Abuja.
“The meeting has been ongoing and we shall commence serious arrest after the meeting”, he said.
Mr Ibrahim claimed that some arrests had been made by the board since 2018, but could not provide the statistics.
He said arrested offenders are charged to mobile courts. “The fine ranges from #1000 to #5000.
“This amount in the Act no 10 of AEPB has been since 1997 and this needs to be reviewed “, he said.
“Usually, you do not find them around the city, but because of the raining season, they are seen now,” he said.