A LAW TO PROHIBIT OPEN REARING AND GRAZING OF LIVESTOCK
BENUE STATE OF NIGERIA
A LAW TO PROHIBIT OPEN REARING AND GRAZING OF LIVESTOCK
AND PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF RANCHES AND
LIVESTOCK ADMINISTRATION, REGULATION AND CONTROL AND
FOR OTHER MATTERS CONNECTED THEREWITH, 2017
ENACTED by the House of Assembly of Benue State as follows:
1. This Law may be cited as Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches
Establishment Law, 2017.
2. In this law:
“Chairman” means a Chairman of Local Government Council in
Benue State or any person acting in that capacity;
“Citizen of Nigeria” means any Nigerian citizen with verifiable
means of identification such as International Passport, National
Identity Card, National Driver’s Licence and Permanent Voters
“Commissioner” means the State Commissioner for Agriculture
and Natural Resources or any other Ministry charged with the
responsibility of managing livestock in the State;
“Commercial Ranch” means a large farm for breeding and raising
cattle, goats, sheep, horses, pigs, poultry etc.
“Committee” means the Local Government Advisory Committee
created by this Law to represent the interest of stakeholders at
the grassroots level.
”Community” means village, hamlet, farm settlement etc;
“Department” means the Department of Livestock in the Ministry
of Agriculture and Natural Resources or any other Ministry
charged with the responsibility of administrating, regulating,
producing and controlling Livestock in the State;
“Governor” means the Governor of Benue State;
“Herding” means the act of bringing individual animals together
into a group (herd), maintaining the group, and moving the
group from place to place.
“Indigene” means a citizen who is a native of any community
within the State by descent.
“Land” means any ground, soil, or earth whatsoever, as
meadows, pastures, woods, etc and everything annexed to it,
whether by nature, as trees, water, etc, or by the hand of man, as
crops, building, fences, etc;
“Land Grabbing” means any illegal, forceful and violent takeover
of traditional or State land in the urban or rural area by an
individual, group or association;
“Lease” means to hire out a piece of land for a specified period of
time in return for a fee called rent;
“Livestock” means any farm animal, particularly poultry, pigs,
cattle, goat, sheep, or horse kept for domestic use or profit, and
includes any animal, which the Governor may by notice in the
State Gazette declare to be included in the term “Livestock” for
the purpose of this Law;
“Livestock Owner” means a person who owns the herds of
livestock and the ranch
“Manager” means a person who is in-charge of running and
maintaining the affairs of the herds of livestock and the ranch.
“Ministry” means Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources
or any other Ministry charged with the responsibility of
administering, regulating and controlling livestock in the State;
“Open Grazing” means the act of pasturing livestock to feed on
dry grass, growing grass, shrubs, herbage, farm crops, etc, in
open fields without any form of restriction;
“Open Rearing” means the unfettered breeding and raising of
“Personal Ranch” means an enclosed area used by the owner of
such area to contain domesticated animals, especially goats, pigs,
sheep, cattle etc.
“Ranch” means a secured tract of land used as animal nurturing
farm, particularly for the grazing and rearing of cattle, sheep,
goat, pigs or horse and any other animal for the purpose of this
“Ranching Permit” means the authority issued by the
Department to the rancher for the purpose of setting up and
running a ranch;
“Rustling” means the act of stealing or moving away farm animals
without the consent of the owner.
“State” means Benue State of Nigeria;
“Task Force” means security outfit constituted for the purpose of
enforcing the provisions of this Law.
3. The main objectives of this Law are:
(a) to prevent the destruction of crop farms, community
ponds, settlements and property by open rearing and
grazing of livestock;
(b) to prevent clashes between nomadic livestock herders
and crop farmers.
(c) to protect the environment from degradation and
pollution caused by open rearing and over grazing of
(d) to optimise the use of land resources in the face of
overstretched land and increasing population.
(e) to prevent, control and manage the spread of diseases as
well as ease the implementation of policies that enhance
the production of high quality and healthy livestock for
local and international markets.
Objectives of the
(f) to create a conducive environment for large scale crop
4. The Livestock Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and
Natural Resources (in this Law referred to as “the Department”
is hereby vested with the powers to administer, regulate and
control livestock in the State.
5. The Department shall issue or cause to be issued permits subject
to the Governor’s approval to graze livestock on such ranches, to
Benue citizens, residents, and other livestock owners as under
the Department’s rules and regulations are entitled to set up a
ranch, upon the annual payment of a permit fee in each case to
be fixed or determined from time to time by the Department:
Provided always that:
(a) ranching permits shall be issued to citizens of Nigeria only
who are authorised to conduct business under the laws of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria. Preference shall however be
given in issuance of ranching permits to those within or near
a district who are landowners interested in livestock
(b)permits must be for a period of not more than one year with
renewal subject to the discretion of the Department.
(c)the Department shall however reduce, refund in whole or
part, or postpone payment of ranching permit fees in cases of
natural emergencies such as drought, flood or epidemics.
6(1) The rancher shall, in writing, approach the owner and family
head of the land which he requires as ranch whereupon he
intends to site his ranch in accordance with the provisions of this
(2) Upon being approached by the rancher, the owner, head of the
family and Kindred Head that owns the land, after consultation
with community leaders and with the endorsement of the
Kindred Head and the Chairman of the relevant Local
Government Traditional Council, may grant his consent in
writing for One-year lease of the land and on such terms and
conditions as the parties may agree upon;
as Regulatory body.
Acquisition of Ranches.
(3) The rancher shall forward a written application for ranching
permit to the Department alongside the consent of the owner
and family head and Kindred Head of the land;
(4) The Department shall undertake or cause to be undertaken by
professionals an Environmental Impact Assessment of the Land
applied for by the rancher;
(5) A copy of the report of the Environmental Impact Assessment
shall be forwarded to the Department, the owner, family head
and Kindred Head of the land, within which the land is situated
for their various and separate considerations and they shall
make their views known at a joint meeting convened for that
purpose by the Department within 90 days;
(6) If, upon due consideration, the report of the Environmental
Impact Assessment is found suitable and in accordance with this
Law, the owner of the land, family head, Kindred Head and the
community within which the land is situated, shall recommend
to the Department to issue ranching permit to the rancher.
7(1) The Commissioner shall, upon the receipt of the
recommendations of the Department, the owner of the land,
family head and Kindred Head and the community within which
the Land is situated, forward a report thereon to the Governor
who may, if satisfied that the best interest of the State will be
served, approve the issuance of a ranching permit to the rancher.
(2) Upon approval by the Governor, the Department shall, within
thirty (30) days, issue a ranching permit to the rancher alongside
regulations for fencing and other activities in accordance with
8. Whenever any Land has been approved for use as ranch, the
rancher shall pay for lease of the land to the owner of the land,
family head and Kindred Head and community whose interest in
the land has been affected.
9(1) Having issued the ranching Permit to the rancher, the
Department shall give notice of the permit and cause it to be
published in the official Gazette of Benue State Government,
specifying as clearly as possible the location and limits of the
liaise with Governor.
Rancher to pay for
land, the privileges conceded in respect of the Land and any
special conditions intended to govern the ranch;
(2) The Department shall cause the particulars of the land upon
which ranching permit is issued to be made known in the
community in which the land is located by causing a notice
thereof to be read and interpreted in the local language of the
community and also cause a notice in writing to the communities
or persons residing on or claiming interest in such Land.
10. Any indigene of Benue State who wishes to set up a personal
ranch on his own land shall be exempted from the provisions of
Section 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
11(1) The lease and permission granted under this Law is a privilege
and shall not create any right, title, interest or estate to the land.
The land shall remain vested in the Governor in accordance with
the Land Use Act;
(2) The permit may be revoked by the Department at any time
subject to the approval of the Governor without the payment of
compensation to the rancher for:
(a) breach of State Security;
(b) interest of peace;
(c) breach of any term or condition of the leasehold; or
(d) overriding public interest as stipulated by the Land Use
12. The Sale of any leased land to the rancher or his agent for the
purpose of ranching, residence and other related purposes is
13. The Department shall, from time to time, determine the
eligibility of persons to be allowed to enter the ranches.
14. Every ranch shall have a fence as shall be prescribed by the
15(1) Apart from the rancher and his staff no person other than a
Government official on duty to inspect shall enter into any ranch,
unless he is authorised to do so by this Law or regulations there
Status and revocation
of lease and ranching
Eligibility to Enter
Ranches to have
Liability of Owner
Prohibition of Sale
of Leased Land.
Eligibility to enter
Ranches to have
(2) No person shall alienate any right affecting land in a ranch, which
has been established in accordance with this Law, by sale,
transfer, mortgage, etc unless in accordance with provisions of
the Land Use Act requiring the prior consent of the Governor.
16(1) If any livestock strays into any other person’s land other than a
ranch and causes destruction to agricultural crops and/or
contaminates any source of water supply, the owner or manger
of such livestock shall be liable to pay damages or compensation
to the owner or community with proprietary interest in the land
or source of water as may be determined by a proper valuation
ordered to be done by the Department.
17. Temporary Structures and other improvements for the
management of permitted livestock may be constructed within
the ranches under permits issued, or cooperative agreements
approved by the Department. However, no permit entitles the
rancher to use improvements constructed and owned by a prior
occupant until the applicant has paid the prior occupant the
reasonable value of the improvements, as may be determined
under the Department’s regulations.
18. The Department shall:
(a) promote cooperation among those interested in the use of
the ranches, such as livestock owners, state land officials
and other officials of State, Federal and International
Agencies engaged in the conservation or propagation of
livestock and wildlife.
(b) create awareness among the general public through
seminars, symposia and advertisement on the commercial
viability of livestock production;
(c) develop and maintain a feasible and sustainable livestock
production industry in the State;
(d) develop an integrated modern livestock development and
production plan and strategy for the State;
Liability of owner
(e) develop guidelines for the implementation of an
integrated livestock production policy and make
appropriate recommendations to the Governor;
(f) initiate, design, co-ordinate, evaluate and monitor all
programs aimed at integrating or boosting livestock
production and rearing in the State;
(g) organise training and support programs aimed at
improving livestock agriculture;
(h) engage or liaise with key stakeholders Local and
International in livestock production to increase access to
education and training in animal husbandry;
(i) perform or implement any other policy initiative as may
be determined by the Governor;
(j) liaise with the Livestock Department at the Local
(k) carry out or cause to be carried out any investigation
that it deems necessary;
(l) consider such recommendations, suggestions and
requests concerning the production of livestock,
operation of ranches as it may receive from any source;
(m) conduct or cause to be conducted such research as it
(n) liaise with Local Government Areas of the State having
common border with other States to establish inspection
posts to ensure entry of healthy livestock into the State;
(o) encourage the promotion of livestock holding in every
household in the State;
(p) after consultation with the Commissioner, make
regulations regarding any ancillary or incidental
administrative or procedural matter that is necessary to
prescribe for the proper implementation and
Prohibition of open
administration of this Law subject to the approval of the
19(1) No individual or group shall, after the commencement of this law,
engage in open nomadic livestock herding or grazing in the State
outside the permitted ranches.
(2) Any person or group of persons who contravenes sub-section (1)
above shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be
liable to five years imprisonment or N1 million fine or both.
(3) Where such contravention causes:
(a) damage to farm, crops or property of any person the
owner or Manager of such livestock shall after evaluation
by the Department of the damage, pay the prevailing value
of monetary compensation of the farm, crops or property
so damaged, to the owner.
(b) injury to any person within the State, the owner or
Manager of such livestock shall be guilty of an offence and
upon conviction be liable to 2 years imprisonment in
addition to footing the medical bill of the victim and
paying relevant compensation as the Court may
(c) Where such contravention causes the death of any person
within the State the owner or Manager of such livestock
shall be guilty of an offence of culpable homicide
punishable under the Penal Code Law.
(4) Movement of Livestock on foot from one destination to another
in the State is hereby prohibited. Such movement shall only be
by rail wagon, truck or pick-up wagon.
(5) Any person(s) found moving livestock on foot within or across
urban centres, rural settlements or any part of the State commits
an offence and is liable to:
(a) for the first offender,N500,000.00 fine or one year
imprisonment or both;
Prohibition of open
rearing and grazing in
Livestock on foot.
(b) for the second offender, N1,000,000.00 or three years
imprisonment or both.
(6) Livestock owners, Managers and ranchers shall not possess fire
arms licensed or unlicensed on the ranch or outside the ranch.
(7) Any livestock owner, rancher or his agent who possesses or owns
fire arms or arms shall be prosecuted under the Robbery and
Firearms (special provision) Act.
(8) Any person who grabs land for the purposes of residence,
grazing or ranching or other purposes connected thereto shall be
guilty of an offence:
(a) where there was loss of life, the land grabber shall be
arrested and prosecuted for culpable homicide as
stipulated under the Penal Code.
(b) where no life was lost but grievous injury caused, the
grabber shall be prosecuted, and if convicted shall be
sentenced to prison for a term of not less than ten
(10)years without an option of fine.
(c) where the dependants of the land grabber are found on
such land, they shall be evicted.
(9) All ranch operators may engage the services of registered
security guards for the protection of their ranches.
20. (1) any person(s) who rustles cattle, or other animals from
any ranch commits an offence and shall be liable on
conviction for imprisonment for a term of not less than
three(3) years or one hundred thousand(N100,000.00)
naira per animal or both.
(2) where the activities of a rustler causes:
(a) injures, he shall in conviction be reliable to five (5)
years imprisonment or a fine five hundred
thousand (N500,000.00) naira only or both;
(b) death, he shall be guilty of an offence of culpable
homicide punishable under the penal code;
(3) a person convicted of cattle rustling may, in addition pay
compensation to the victim or owner as the court may
21. Any livestock found grazing, wandering, herding in an area not
designated as a ranch shall be impounded by the Department or
any other person authorized by the Department in that behalf.
22. The Department or any other person so authorised may release
the livestock impounded to the owner or Manager upon showing
good cause and after paying the prescribed fine and expenses as
may be determined by the Department.
23. Any livestock impounded under this law which is not claimed
within seven (7) days of such impoundment shall(a)
be sold on auction to the public; and
(b) the proceeds of such sale shall be deposited in the
Consolidated Revenue Account of the State.
24. There shall be established a Special Livestock Open Grazing
prohibition Task Force for the State with units in each Local
Government Area of the State.
25. The Livestock Special Task Force shall enforce the provisions of
this law and the guidelines and regulations of the Department
regulating and controlling livestock in the State.
26. The Livestock Special Task Force shall comprise the following:
(i) Special Adviser to the Governor on Security – Chairman;
(ii) State Chairman of the Benue State Community Volunteer
(iii) Representative of the Commissioner of Police
(iv) Representative of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence
(v) Representative of the State Director of Department of
State Security Services (DSS).
(vi) Representative of the State Chairman of Nigerian Legion
of Ex-Service men.
(vii) Representative of Commissioner for Agriculture not
below the rank of Deputy Director – Secretary.
Fund of the
Composition of the
Sale of impounded
Livestock Special Task
Composition of the
Livestock Special Task
27. The Department shall make regulations and guidelines for the
structure, command, control and operations as well as payment
of stipends to the Task Force.
28. The Task Force shall be paid a stipend from contributions from
the State and Local Governments as the Governor may determine
and from donations from public spirited individuals and
29(1) It shall be lawful for the Task Force with or without the
assistance of the security agencies to arrest and detain any
person or group of persons engaged in open grazing and other
acts prohibited by the provisions of this law. Such person(s)
shall be handed over to the police or other security Agencies
(2) The period of detention by the Task Force and the security
Agencies of such arrested person(s) shall not be more than fortyeight
30. No member of the Department and the Livestock Special Task
Force shall be liable to legal action, liability or demand on
account of anything done, or omitted to be done in good faith and
in accordance with the provisions of this law.
31. The Commissioner shall cause to be submitted to the House of
(a) a statement of income and expenditure of the Department
during the previous year;
(b) a statement of Assets and liabilities of the Department;
(c) the financial status of the Department;
(d) any other matter relating to livestock administration,
regulation and control;
(e) progress report on the implementation of this Law.
32(1) In order that the Department may have the benefit of the full
information and advice concerning the physical, economic, and
other local conditions in ranches in the State, there shall be a
Power of arrest
Local Government Advisory Committee for each Local
(2) Each Committee shall consist of not less than eight (8) members
and shall meet at least twice annually, at a time to be fixed by the
Department, and at such times as it may be expedient.
(3)The Committee shall offer advice and make recommendations;
provided that in no case shall any Committee Member participate
in any advice or recommendation concerning a permit, or an
application thereof, in which he is directly or indirectly interested.
(4)The Committee shall offer advice or make recommendations
concerning rules and regulations for the administration of this
Law, the establishment of ranches, the modification of the
boundaries thereof and any other matter affecting the
administration of this Law within the area.
33. The Local Government Advisory Committee shall comprise(a)
the Chairman of the Local Government Council as
(b) the Chairman of the Local Government Traditional Council
or his representative;
(c) representative of farmers at the Local Government level;
(d) representative of Livestock Owners at the Local
(e) representative of the Benue State Community Volunteer
Guards at the Local Government level;
(f) Divisional Police Officer or his representative;
(g) representative of the Nigerian Bar Association at the Local
(h) head of Personnel Administration of the Local
Government as Secretary.
34. The Department shall not accept any aid, grant or assistance if
the conditions attached by the person or organization giving the
aid, grant or assistance are inconsistent or will compromise the
Department in the discharge of its functions under this Law.
Power to accept
aids, grants or
35(1) The Magistrate and Upper Area Courts shall have jurisdiction to
try offences under this Law except provisions where the courts
have no jurisdiction; the High Court shall try such offences.
(2) All appeals from the Magistrate and Upper Area Courts shall be
to the High Court as of right.
36 The Grazing Reserves Law Cap. 72, Laws of Benue State, 2004 is
hereby repealed and all instruments made there-under that
affect grazing of livestock shall be modified in line with the
provisions of this Law.
State Legislature and is a true and correctly printed copy of the
TORESE AGENA, Ph.D.
Clerk of the House
This impression is hereby endorsed by me as correct.
RT. HON. TERKIMBI IKYANGE
I Assent/Withhold Assent This ............... Day Of ......................2017
Court of jurisdiction.
Repeal of Cap 72