Herdsmen to sue Ekiti over anti-grazing law
A group of herdsmen has decided to challenge the legality of “Ekiti State Open Grazing Prohibition Bill” signed into law by Governor Ayodele Fayose on Monday.
In an interview with The Guardian yesterday in Oke-Ako, Ikole local council, the herdsmen said they had instructed their lawyer to study the new law and challenge those aspects they considered inimical to the survival of their cattle and their continued stay in the state.
The concerned herdsmen who pleaded for anonymity said they were surprised that all their presentations during the public hearing of the State House of Assembly were not considered while passing the bill and expressed their readiness to challenge the law in a competent court.
Also speaking on the issue, the Legal Adviser to Ekiti State chapter of the Jamu Nate Fulbe Association of Nigeria, an umbrella body for herdsmen from Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr. Umar Imam, argued that the government could not charge erring members of the association with terrorism for carrying light weapons.
According to Imam, herdsmen who carry light weapons like cutlasses, catapults and arrows within the time stipulated by the new law cannot be charged with terrorism, saying acting contrary will negate the anti-terrorism law of the country.
The government has through the new law banned the free grazing of cattle in the state and carrying of firearms by herders. It has also restricted the grazing period to between 7:00.a.m and 6:00.p.m.
Part of the provisions of the law is that any herdsman who circumvents it shall be jailed for six months without an option of a fine.
Imam said in Ado Ekiti: “What the state government ought to have done was to allow whoever wants to relocate at night to take permit from a government authority or inform their Seriki, but banning them from moving at night may not help the situation, it will make their jobs difficult.”
The Seriki of the association in Ekiti, Alhaji Ahmadu Mahmoud appealed to Governor Fayose to amend the new law so that his members could be allowed to carry lesser arms to ward off attacks from robbers.
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