From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
A Makurdi Chief Magistrate, Mr Isaac Ajim, Thursday convicted and sentenced a 20-year-old herder, Jaro Alhaji Ilu to one year in prison for violating the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of Benue State.
However, the Chief Magistrate after listening to the plea for leniency from the herder who hails from Awe Local Government Area of Nassarawa State reduced the sentence to a fine of N500,000 upon which failure to pay will attract one year imprisonment.
The Chief Magistrate stated that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt to warrant conviction, noting that the plea by the herder has further convinced the court that he drank from the cup of crime and he is guilty of the charge of open grazing.
He advised those who want to engage in livestock business without ranches to go to states where there is no law prohibits open grazing.
He stressed that the law was enacted to prevent clashes between herders and farmers and was not targeted at any ethnic group or persons.
Earlier, the Police Prosecuting Officer, Sergeant Friday Kanshio told the court that the State Commander of the Benue State Livestock Guards, Mr Linus Zaki and his team while on patrol along Gbajimba, Guma Local Government Area of Benue State on May 5,2020, saw the herder with cows grazing openly on Governor Samuel Ortom’s farm in Gbajimba, thereby contravening section 19(2) of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of Benue State, 2017.
The herdsman pleaded guilty t the charge and confessed that he came to Benue with cows that were grazing when he was arrested and pleaded for leniency with a promise not to commit the offence again.