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Three Fulani Herdsmen Jailed For Violating Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law

Three herdsmen are to spend the next one year in jail after a Makurdi Magistrates’ Court yesterday found them guilty of violating the Benue State Anti-Open Grazing Law, 2017.

Jailed are Iliya Garba, Hassan Abdullahi and Lanshak Lonfalk who were all charged with criminal conspiracy and open nomadic livestock rearing and grazing.

The offences are punishable under Sections 97 of the Penal Code and 19 (2) of the Open Grazing Prohibition Ranches Establishment Law of Benue, 2017.

Prosecutor Michael Iorundu told the court that the joint patrol team of “Operation Zenda,” led by Sgt. Edward Shinyi, arrested the herders on February 18.

He said they were brought to the State Criminal and Investigation Department, Makurdi.

“The team reported that the three herders and others now at large were openly grazing their cattle along the Yeluwata Road in the Guma Local Government Area of Benue.

“When the case came up for mention, the herders pleaded guilty to the charge against them, saying that they were not aware that open grazing had been prohibited in Benue State,’’he said.

The Magistrate, Mrs Lillian Tsumba said the herders were first offenders who were also illiterates and not even aware that open grazing has been prohibited in Benue.

Tsumba said a law such as open grazing prohibition required massive exposure and education of persons at the grassroots.

She, however, said law is law and must be obeyed in spite ignorance.

The magistrate sentenced the herders to a year imprisonment each, with N500,000 option of fine each.