Ali Haruna, a herdsman, has been handed two years imprisonment for grazing his cows in a farmland in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital.
The Magistrate, Idowu Ayenimo, in his judgement, said the accused was brought in on a two-count charge of willful and unlawful damage of farm crops at Ago Aduloju in Ado-Ekiti.
NAN reports that the 18-year-old Haruna was confirmed by the four prosecuting witnesses to have been caught in the midnight grazing his cow in the farm belonging to Abdulahi Yaho and Bello Mohammed.
The cash crops said to have destroyed by the cows in the farm included cassava, maize, okro and pepper, all valued at N3 million. The defendant told the court that the owner of the cows lived in Ilorin, Kwara. The magistrate said the court did not believe Mr. Haruna’s defence as it was not credible. He held that the police prosecutor, Olasunkanmi Bankole, had proved his case beyond reasonable doubt.
He thereby convicted the defendant as charged without option of fine. The magistrate ordered that the sentence should run concurrently, explaining that the term was minimal because the offence was committed before the Grazing Law was promulgated in the state.
The Ekiti state government recently outlawed the grazing of livestock in open areas without permission. Chris Omokhafe, the defense council had prayed the court to be liberal in the dispensation of justice, saying that he was a first offender. READ ALSO: Tension: Boko Haram cannot be destroyed – Controversy trails attack on church Meanwhile, mixed-reactions have trailed the sentencing of the herdsman in Ekiti state.
Some people were of the opinion that the sentencing was poor, especially regarding the age of the herdsman and the fact that he is not the owner of the cows, a notion which caused great debate. Proponents of the thought were of the opinion that the real owners of the cows be made to stand trial and not the herdsman sentenced.
They further argued that a better judgement should have been a fine paid with heads of cows, which would affect the herdsman’s master’s pocket and make the latter see to it that his herdsmen obey the law in the future.
Some others believed that the sentencing will serve as a deterrent to many other herdsmen, not only in Ekiti state, but indeed through out the federation. They stress that if laws like this are not enforced, then the menace of herdsmen continue to plague innocent Nigerians across the nation.