Armed herdsmen can’t be charged for terrorism in Ekiti —Legal adviser

Herdsmen from Kwara State, resident and operating in Ekiti State, have said the state government cannot charge them for terrorism under the law recently signed by Governor Ayodele Fayose.

The herdsmen, operating under the aegis of Jamu Nate Fulbe Association of Nigeria, in reaction to the new anti-grazing law in the Ekiti State, claimed that the state Assembly had no power to charge erring members of the association with terrorism for carrying light weapons.

The herdsmen, who spoke through their legal adviser, Mr Umar Imam, said herdsmen who carried light weapons like cutlasses, knives, catapult and arrows within the time stipulated by the new law, could not be charged with terrorism.

Imam said charging them also “contradicted the Anti-Terrorism Law,” contending that “the law of the federation on terrorism is very clear and no one can be charged for terrorism for carrying lesser arms like cutlasses, catapults and knives, during the grazing period as contained in Ekiti new law.

“I have made it in my submission during the public hearing on the bill in the Ekiti State House of Assembly that these Fulani herdsmen used to use these lesser weapons for certain purposes that can make grazing easier.

“I also told them that movement at night while relocating from one place to another was to ensure that they don’t wreak havoc on the people during the day while relocating to other towns. I expected the state government to have taken care of these in the new law rather than total banning.

“What the state government ought to have done is to allow whoever wants to relocate at night to take permit from a certain government’s authority or inform their Seriki. But banning them from moving at night may not help the situation. It will make their jobs difficult.”

Also reacting to the new law, the Seriki of the association in Ekiti, Alhaji Ahmadu Mahmoud, appealed to Governor Fayose to amend the new law in order to grant members of the association the permit to carry lesser arms to ward off attacks during grazing.

Mahmoud, who didn’t complain about the time for the grazing, however, lamented that outright banning of night movement, would make the jobs of the herdsmen more difficult and also create confusion.

“We agree with the governor on the grazing period of between 7:00 a.m and 6:00p.m, but we should be allowed to carry lesser arms and relocate at night. How can somebody who wants to carry his cattle numbering hundreds from Ekiti to places like Lokoja, Ibadan or Ilorin move during the day? These places are densely populated and it will create traffic congestion and confusion everywhere. The government must look into all these.”

Governor Fayose, on Monday, signed the “Bill to regulate and Control Cattle and Other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti State and Other Matters Connected Therewith, 2016” into law, and said during the ceremony that armed herdsmen would be charged with terrorism