A bill seeking to stop the indiscriminate slaughtering of donkeys by organising them in ranches divided senators on Tuesday.
The proposed law is titled, “A bill for an Act to regulate the slaughtering of donkeys and establish the breeding and ranching of donkeys through the Export Certification Value Chain to mitigate the extinction of donkeys and for related matters.”
It was sponsored by the Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North).
The aim of the bill, according to the Senate Leader is to stop donkeys from extinction.
Trouble, however, started when the Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia) argued that the Senate does not have the legislative competence to legislate on the matter concerning animal husbandry.
Abaribe insisted that the Senate can’t make laws on residual matters and that the red chamber was not expressly allowed by the constitution to carry out such legislation.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North) however, countered Abaribe.
He said the bill was meant to address issues of research and insisted that the Senate can legislate on it.
He said, “When I was in service as a veterinary doctor, there were issues of donkeys going into extinction. The section of the constitution that the Minority Leader was referring to, also allows the Federal Government to make laws for the purpose of research.
“The Federal Government has right to make laws for research,” Abdullahi said.
He noted that some people had realised the value chain of donkey’s skin mostly found in the northern part of the country.
He said it was because of the realisation that made Nigerians travel from as far as Akwa Ibom to the North to buy them.
But the Senate spokesperson, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, said he supported the Minority Leader’s position and that the Senate does not have the legislative competency to decide on such a bill.
Basiru said, “I support the point of order raised by the Minority Leader. Section 3 (3) states clearly what we should legislate, ” Basiru said.
He continued, “The areas which the National Assembly can make laws must be given constitution competence.”
He added that the legislation was for the state Assemblies to decide.
Basiru, a legal practitioner, who also holds a doctorate degree in Property Law, said the issue had already been decided at the Supreme Court.
He added that the issue bothered on a physical planning which the state legislators should decide.
He said, “The issue, whether the cows or donkeys are going into extinction does not give us the competency to legislate upon.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, however, ruled that it was within their jurisdiction to legislate on the issue and ruled they should go ahead and take the bill.
The committee is expected to organise a public hearing before its report would be presented on the floor of the Senate for eventual consideration and approval..
Speaking on the matter, Lawan said the debate was on the extinction of the donkeys.
The Senate Leader, then presented his debate on the bill which passed through second reading and was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to report back in four weeks.
He said the bill would further complement the import and export of raw animal skins and hides especially that of donkeys currently on the Customs Prohibition List
He said, “While cattle has received tremendous attention by the government over the years through the national cattle beef and dairy breeding programs, the donkey value chain has not received such attention, in fact the donkey predicament has deteriorated.
“There is no program in place to improve donkey breeding as a practical approach to increasing the national donkey population.
“The slaughter of donkey has become an attractive business nationwide, not for the donkey meat which is an inconsequential product of donkey slaughter but the donkey hides which is a lucrative export product.
“The actual meat of choice is the horse meat for those who indulge in it, the horse hide is not exported. The major focus of the donkey slaughter is for the export of the hide which is the premium product for export.”