• Law’ll be implemented –Gov’s aide
From Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Counsel to Fulani herdsmen in Ekiti State, Mr. Umar Imam has condemned the anti-grazing law signed into law on Monday by Governor Ayodele Fayose.
The herdsmen, through their counsel, said the House of Assembly has no power to charge erring members of the association with terrorism for carrying light weapons.
Imam, acting for the Jamu Nate Fulbe Association of Nigeria, a body of Fulani herdsmen, 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, adding that the law contradicted the Anti-Terrorism Law as amended in the 1999 Constitution.
The law became effective on Monday following signing into law, a bill tagged: “Prohibition of cattle and other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti Bill, 2016 which prevented free grazing of cattle in the state and carrying of firearms by members as well restriction of grazing period to between 7.00am and 6.00pm.
The law specified that any herdsman found with arms during grazing would be charged with terrorism and be jailed for six months without an option of fine. The law also restricted grazing from 7.00am to 6.00pm and banned night grazing as well.
However, Imam said the Anti-Terrorism Law of the Federation stated clearly what constituted an infringement of the law and that carrying of lesser arms does not constitute offence under the provision.
“In my submission during a public hearing on the bill, I told them that these Fulani herdsmen used these lesser weapons for certain purposes to make grazing easier. I also told them that movement at night was to ensure that they don’t wreak havoc on the people during the day while relocating to other towns. Banning them from moving at night may not help the situation, it will make their jobs difficult,” Imam said.
Seriki of the association in Ekiti, Alhaji Ahmadu Mahmoud, appealed to Fayose to amend the new law, to allow his members to carry lesser arms to ward off attacks during grazing.
Mahmoud, who aligned with the time for grazing, however, said outright banning of night movement would make their jobs difficult and create more confusion. “How can somebody who wants to carry his cattle numbering hundreds from Ekiti to places like Lokoja, Ibadan or Ilorin moves during the day?
“These places are densely populated and it will create traffic congestion and confusion everywhere government must look into all these,” he said.
Reacting to Imam’s outburst, Governor Fayose’s Special Assistance on Communication and New Media, Lere Olayinka said: “Well, the law has been made and it would be duly implemented. When the law takes its course, we would leave whatever arguement on the matter to the law court. I don’t want to advise Imam to encourage his people to contravene the law because what I believe should be most important for all of usn whether you are from the West, East, North or South in Nigeria is a genuine concern for the safety of lives and that of our property. In any case, the anti-grazing law is meant to protect all of us, whether Fulani or Yoruba or any other tribe. Our brothers from the north should not give the impression that the law is meant to discriminate against them because murder, criminilaity, death and others do not have tribe or religion.