The Ekiti State Government on Monday signed a bill banning grazing activities after 6PM in the evening and before 7AM in the morning, into law.
The law titled “Prohibition of Cattle and Other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti, 2016,” also says that any herdsman caught with firearms and any weapons whatsoever during grazing shall be charged with terrorism.
The law also provides that herdsmen will bear the expenses of any farm products destroyed by the activities of their herd, adding that anyone convicted of violating the law shall be sentenced to six months in prison without an option of fine.
Following the development, Fulani Herdsmen from Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, but resident in Ekiti State under the aegis of Jamu Nate Fulbe Association of Nigeria have kicked against the law, PUNCH reports.
The association’s legal adviser, Umar Imam said that herdsmen who carried light weapons such as cutlasses, knives, catapults, and arrows within the time stipulated by the new law should not be charged with terrorism, adding that this contradicts 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 banning.
What the state government ought to have done is to allow whoever wants to relocate at night to take permit from a certain government’s authority or inform their Seriki (their leader), but banning them from moving at night may not help the situation, it will make their job difficult,” Imam said.
The leader of the association in Ekiti, Alhaji Ahmadu Mahmoud, has also appealed to the governor to review the law and allow his members to carry lesser arms to ward off attacks during grazing.
“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 moves during the day? These places are densely populated and it will create traffic congestion and confusion everywhere. The government must look into all these,” he said.