Herdsmen defy minister, move cows on FCT roads, streets

Fulani herdsmen have continued to graze their cattle in Abuja in defiance of an order by the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Muhammed Bello, directing them to stop the practice in the FCT.

Checks on Tuesday by our correspondent indicated that the herdsmen still grazed their cattle on every available green lawn, and grass along the roads and sometimes grinding traffic to a halt.

Bello had on September 3, 2016 directed the Abuja Environmental Protection Board and the FCT Task  Force Team on Environment to, as a matter of urgency, get rid of herdsmen still grazing their cattle in the FCT.

He described cattle grazing in the city as bizarre and ordered the AEPB to take steps to stop it forthwith.

But weeks after the directive, nothing seems to have been done as the herdsmen still carry on with their activities without let or hindrance.

Our correspondent observed a herd of cattle grazing at the Gwarimpa Estate, along the Abuja-Zuba Expressway on Tuesday.

Three young boys were also seen grazing a herd of cattle by Setraco Gate, Gwarimpa, while another herd of cattle grazed on an open field along the Airport Bypass, Jabi.

The herders had also been observed driving their cows along the Central Business District and obstructing traffic at will.

But the Director, Abuja Environmental Protection Board, Mrs. Olutoyin Olanipekun, said her agency had confiscated seven cows and 23 sheep for grazing in the city, adding that the owners were fined by the mobile court before the animals were released.

Olanipekun explained that she had held a meeting with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in June during which the herdsmen pledged to stop grazing their livestock in the city.

“The association said we should give them time to educate their members, but since then, we have not heard from them and all efforts to reach them has not been successful, but we have been seeing herdsmen grazing their livestock and we have been confiscating the animals and charging their owners to court,” she stated.

The AEPB director said her agency had a monitoring team patrolling the FCT to apprehend violators of the order against open grazing of animals.

She added, “One of the challenges we are facing is that the herders are nomadic and are very mobile. When we get a signal that they are at a particular location, by the time our men would come with the truck to evacuate the animals, the herders would have moved to another location and tracing them is sometimes difficult.”

She, however, insisted that her agency would continue to confiscate animals found grazing in public places, warning herders to set up ranches or risk prosecution.

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