Open grazing: Court sentences herdsman to 3 years imprisonment

By Martin Iyonguvihi

A Makurdi Chief Magistrate Court last Wednesday convicted and sentenced a herder, Haruna Saidu, to three years in prison for violating the Open Grazing Law of Benue State.

The convict, aged 20-years, hails from Shendam Local Government Area of Plateau State, was arraigned for open nomadic livestock rearing and grazing.

According to the Prosecutor, ASP Hyacinth Gbakor, he was arrested on 21 March, 2021 by the patrol team of Livestock Guard Benue state, led by its Commander, Mr Linus Saki, during their routine patrol and brought to state criminal investigation department, Makurdi.

The prosecutor told the court that the convict was arrested along Mbala village in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue state when he was seen grazing openly with his cows contrary to section 19 (2) of Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of Benue state 2017.

When the convict was arraigned in court, he pleaded guilty to the charges, saying he was unaware of the anti-open grazing law in Benue state and asked for pardon and forgiveness in order to relocate to his state.

However, the Prosecutor asked the court to invoke section 352 sub-section (b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of Benue state 2019 for summary trial.

Delivering his ruling, the Magistrate, Mr V.T Kor Esq, held that ignorance of the law is not an excuse and that with the defendant’s open admission for committing the offence, the court tried him summarily under section 353(b) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Benue state 2019 and as such, find him guilty as charged.

He was subsequently convicted to pay the sum of N500,000 or serve a jail term of 3 years at the federal Correctional Centre, Makurdi.

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