- Fulani leader opposes ban on night movement
Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti
The Legal Adviser of the Ekiti State chapter of the Jamu Nate Fulbe Association of Nigeria, an umbrella body for herdsmen from Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr. Umar Imam, has declared that Governor Ayodele Fayose can’t charge erring member of the association with terrorism for carrying light weapons.
Imam disclosed that herdsmen who carried light weapons like cutlasses, catapult and arrows within the time stipulated by the new law cannot be charged with terrorism, saying acting contrary will negate the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Fayose had on Monday signed the “Prohibition of cattle and other Ruminants Grazing in Ekiti Bill, 2016 into law, which prevents free grazing of cattle in the state and carrying of firearms by members as well as restriction of grazing period to between 7a.m. and 6p.m.
Part of the provisions of the law is that any herdsman, who contravenes the law shall be jailed for six months without an option of fine.
Speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti wednesday on the contentious issue, Imam said the Anti-Terrorism Act of the Federation states clearly what constituts an infringement of the law and that carrying of lesser arms does not constitute offence under the provision.
“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 Ekiti new law.
“I have made it in my submission during the public hearing on the bill in the state House of Assembly that these Fulani herdsmen used to carry 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, but banning them from moving at night may not help the situation, it will make their jobs difficult,” Imam said.
The Seriki of the Association in Ekiti, Alhaji Ahmadu Mahmoud, appealed to Fayose to amend the new law so that his members can be allowed to carry lesser arms to ward off attacks from robbers.
Mahmoud, who praised Fayose for the time allotted for grazing in the law, added that outright banning of night movement would make their jobs difficult and create more confusion than being expected.
“We agree with the governor on the grazing period of between 7a.m. and 6p.m., 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 stated.