…7,629 cows, 210 sheep impounded
By Peter Duru – Makurdi
No fewer than 400 herdsmen were reportedly arrested while over 7,629 cows, 210 sheep and other livestock were impounded for violating the Benue State Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law of 2017.
The arrests were made in the last three years from November 1, 2017, the date of the commencement of enforcement of the law and October 31, 2020.
Governor Samuel Ortom made the disclosure in Makurdi at the third year anniversary celebration of the grazing law organized by the State Standing Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of Government Litigations and Matters Connected Thereto, with the theme, Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017: A Recipe for Security and Peaceful Co-Existence.
Represented by his Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Michael Gusa, the Governor explained that “of this number, 261 persons have been convicted, 21 persons have been discharged, 36 cases are still pending, while investigation is ongoing on other cases.
“The law has also witnessed the arrest, arraignment and conviction of five cattle rustlers. The convicted rustlers were of Fulani extraction, who confessed to the crime in open court. Besides, the law has ensured the arrest and arraignment of people irrespective of their ethnic groups or religion.
“Most of the convicts were able to pay fines and were released while many who could not were sent to jail ranging from six months to two years.”
He observed that the law had recorded milestones especially in checking the wanton killings and destruction of property in the state. “The rapidity and number of attacks on communities by suspected herdsmen have reduced in the last two years as compared to 2016-2017,” he said.
Earlier, the Chairman State Standing Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of Government Litigations and Matters Related Thereto, Mr Emmanuel Agbakor who pointed out that the law which had restored relative peace in the hitherto volatile Benue communities, enjoys the support of the people and not targeted at any particular ethnic group.