Court Sentenced Three Herdsmen To Prison In Benue Over Violation Of Open Anti-Grazing Law
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A herdsman and his cattle
A new record has been set in Benue legal parlance today following the successful conviction of three herdsmen in the state.
The herdsmen were convicted by a Makurdi Magistrate Court in compliance with newly enacted Anti-Open Grazing Law of Benue State.
The convicts, Iliya Garba, Hassan Abdullahi, and Lanshak Lonfalk were all ordered by the court to spend one year each in prison after they were found guilty to have violated some provisions of the newly enacted law.
The court found the three herdsmen guilty of the offence of criminal conspiracy and open nomadic livestock rearing and grazing which was brought against them before the court.
According to the prosecutor, Inspector Michael Iorundu, the joint patrol team of ‘Operation Zenda’ which was led by Sgt. Edward Shinyi, was able to apprehend the herdsmen on the 18th of February, handed over to the State Criminal and Investigation Department, Makurdi.
In the words of the prosecutor, “The team reported that the three herders, and others now at large, were openly grazing their cattle along Yeluwata Road in Guma Local Government Area of Benue.”
“When the case came up for a mention, the herders pleaded guilty to the charge against them, saying that they were not aware that open grazing had been prohibited in Benue.”
Inspector Iorundu noted that the offenses were against the law and have it’s sanctioned provided for in Sections 97 of the Penal Code and 19 (2) of the Open Grazing Prohibition Ranches Establishment Law of Benue, 2017.
Mrs Lillian Tsumba, the court magistrate, after listening to the arguments, however, pointed out that the three herdsmen are ignorant of the prohibition of the open grazing law in the state considering the fact that they are not educated and are perceived to be the first set of offenders to have violated the new law.
She also noted that grassroots dwellers need to be highly enlightened on such laws but that claiming ignorance of a law is not an excuse to violate the law.
She, however, ruled that the three offenders should spend the next one year in prison custody or each of them to pay a fine of N500,000.