By Philip Eke, Yenogoa

Gov Diri

The Bayelsa State Government will arrest and prosecute herders and livestock owners who are caught with firearms when the state’s anti-open grazing bill is passed into law and this is authoritative especially as Governor Douye Diri is expected to sign the bill into law this week.

The state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo SAN, stated this while speaking at the public hearing on the legislative document titled, ‘Livestock Breeding and Marketing Regulation Bill, 2021’ at the House of Assembly Complex, Yenagoa, on Monday.

The public hearing was organised by the House Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources; Trade, Industry and Investment; Environment, and Security, which is headed by Tonye Isenah, a former speaker.

Dambo said the state was not coming up with a fresh law on possession of firearms through the bill to prosecute offenders, but the state would arraign such flouters under the Firearms Act, a federal law.

He posited that the essence of the bill was to prevent herders-farmers clashes and forestall a breach of the peace in Bayelsa as currently happening in some states.

Dambo said, “One area (of the bill) that I just wish to refer to is Section 15 which talks about livestock owners, managers, ranchers shall not possess firearms licenced or unlicenced on the ranch or outside the ranch.

“I know that the issue of firearms is under the exclusive legislative list of the Constitution. However, this law (bill) is not going to create a new law. This paragraph was well crafted. If you go to Section 2, it says that any livestock owner, rancher or his agent who possesses or owns firearm or arm shall be prosecuted under the applicable law.

“What we are referring to here is the Firearms Act, which is a federal law. So what we are saying here is that we are not creating a new law. We are just saying that anybody that goes foul of this (state) law will be prosecuted under the federal law.”