By Samuel Oyadongha
BAYELSA State government has charged three cattle rearers/herders arrested by security personnel attached to the State Livestock Management Committee to court for contravening the Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing Regulations Law 2021, which banned open grazing in the state.
The three accused persons, Mohammed Ibrahim, 19; Hassan Gambo, 30 and Ibrahim Mohammed, 18, arraigned before a Yenagoa Magistrate’s Court, however, pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge brought against them.
Magistrate Stanley Ekeru, meanwhile, granted the three accused bail in the sum of N200,000 each but noted that the bail would only be perfected by a surety each, who must own a landed property and reside in the state, and adjoined the case to December 21, 2021, for hearing.
Speaking to newsmen after the court hearing, the prosecuting counsel, Monday Benabo, OC Legal, who initially objected to the bail application by the defence counsel, expressed concern over the possibility of the accused persons jumping bail since they are not resident in the state.
Defence counsel, Oputa Freeman, however, allayed the fear of the court and the prosecution over the accused jumping bail, saying the leadership of the Hausa community and Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria would always ensure that the accused were present in court for the duration of the case.
Earlier, the Vice Chairman of the State Livestock Management Committee, Dr. Ibegu Daguo, said the prosecution of the three accused persons was to serve as deterrent to other intending violators of “No Open Grazing Law” in the state.
It will be recalled that the Bayelsa State Livestock Breeding, Rearing And Marketing Regulations Law 2021, section 11 (2a) stipulates “that anyone found moving livestock on foot within or across any part of the state commit an offence and is liable to a fine of N300,000 or six months imprisonment or both for first offender.”