Director, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Mr Osi Braimah, has warned that the board would be strict on enforcement by arresting cattle rearers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He gave the warning during the monitoring exercise conducted along the airport road, in Abuja on Thursday.
“We are going to be strict on enforcement until the city of Abuja is rid of animals.
“The laws against grazing of animals in the FCT is quite clear. The extant laws and rules are that you are not allowed to keep animals in your property, you are not allowed to graze animals on the streets of Abuja.
“Grazing of animals along the airport road symbolises illegal acts,” Braimah said.
He noted that there had been several meetings with groups that are responsible for cattle rearing, groups such as the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBA), looking for ways to sort these problems.
“We must try to enforce these laws. We know that it’s getting serious now, when you live in Abuja you see animals grazing everywhere, cows everywhere, this is no longer acceptable.
“We are going to begin strict enforcement. We are going to seize these animals and take the violators to court soonest.
“Our prayer would be that the court confiscates those animals and give them away because we have done all we can to mitigate these problems,” the director revealed.
He decried the rate of accidents recorded by cattle grazing on the highway, saying such accidents has caused the death of people in the FCT because they ram into them.
“Safety rules are not known to these small boys who rear these animals.
Commenting on the attacks by the cattle breeders on the AEPB officials, Braimah said “Even though we have armed policemen with us we always try to use minimal force against them.
“We have appealed to their parents to make their children remain at home and not to be herding animals on the streets.
“We will not have and condone animals crossing the expressway. We will not also allow people to keep animals on their property.”
He warned that these animals carry diseases, they constitute nuisance and apart from being a physical nuisance they are also a concern to public health.
“They carry diseases called zoonotic diseases that pass from animals to humans,” he said.
The director urged people who get these animals as gifts to send them to their villages or take them to the ranch.
“We reiterate that keeping animals in your homes is not allowed even though we know that people give out these animals during festive periods as gifts,” Braimah advised.
The Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, AEPB, Mr Kaka Bello, condemned the illegal grazing and straying of animals within the FCT.
“This is a contravention of the AEPB act.
“We have engaged in so many dialogues with the various groups rearing cattles in the FCT, such as MACBA, and they have been cooperative but it’s unfortunate that some people have been deviant of these rules.
“As an organisation saddled with these responsibilities, we have no option than to act,” he said.
Bello commended the security officials for always providing them with the necessary support in discharging their duties.
“These cattle breeders give the excuses of being kidnapped when they take their animals for grazing in the bushes.
“We know that the government is trying to make grazing reserves available so there should be no excuses for them to graze within the city centre.
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to cattle rearers to desist from indiscriminate rearing of their cattle.”
He said that there are no grasses for their cattle on the streets, noting that their activities are dangerous to road users and motorists.
“They should endeavor to use the bushes outside the city and not within the city,” he urged.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the monitoring and enforcement exercise was done along airport road where some of the cattle rearers brought out knives, threw stones and pulled tyres to the roads to attack the AEPB officials.
NAN further reports that the policemen attached to the exercise tried stopping the attacks on AEPB officials, by throwing tear gas at the breeders. (NAN)