Fulani herdsmen who reside in Ekiti State under the Aegis of Jamu Nate Fulbe Association of Nigeria have criticized the new grazing law signed by Governor Ayodele Fayose.
The Fulani herdsmen who are reported to be from Ilorin, Kwara State, have spoken through their legal adviser, Mr. Usman Imam, on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, arguing that they carried weapons like cutlasses, knives, catapult and arrows within a time stipulated by the new law to be prohibited.
The new law, titled “Prohibition of Cattle and Other Ruminant Grazing in Ekiti, 2016”, has declared that grazing practices should be within 7am and 6pm on daily basis.
The law also stipulates, according to the speaker of The Ekiti State House of Assembly, that any herdsman caught with any weapon during grazing activities shall be charged with terrorism.
Furthermore, the law states that any farm products destroyed by any herdsman shall be estimated by agricultural officer and the expenses shall be paid by said herdsman, adding that anyone who violated shall be sentenced to six months in prison without bail, on conviction.
Mr. Imam added that the new law opposed the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011.
“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 the 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 ban.
“What the state government ought to have done is to allow whoever wants to relocate at night to take permit from a certain government authority or inform their Seriki, but banning them from moving at night may not help the situation, it will make their jobs difficult,” he said.
The Seriki of the association in Ekiti State, according to Punch, urged the governor to amend the new law, emphasizing that the herdsmen needed to carry small weapons to ward off attacks during grazing.
Mahmoud also criticized that total ban on night grazing, even though he agreed with the grazing time stipulated by the new law.
“We agree with the governor on the grazing period of between 7am and 6pm, 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 of these,” he said.