Seven herdsmen arrested in connection with the invasion and killing of persons in two councils of Benue State, and one other for grazing on Governor Samuel Ortom’s farm, have been arraigned before a Makurdi Chief Magistrate Court, presided over by Isaac Ajim.
The six accused persons, who were arraigned for criminal conspiracy, mischief by fire, anti- open grazing, causing crevices hurt with dangerous weapons and culpable homicide, include Ibrahim Saleh, Jibrin Adamu, Magaji Yau, Ibrahim Abubakar, Useni Bala, Sabin Yau, while Ibrahim Mallam was arraigned for grazing on Ortom’s farm along Naka Road in Makurdi.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), on December 31, last year, at about 11:50pm, one Menga Mgande of Akor village in Guma Council reported to the Police at Gbajmba that on the same date, around 3:00pm, a group of Fulani herdsmen attacked her village, shooting sporadically, and in the process killed 19 persons while severely injuring them with deep cuts all over their bodies.
It said Police investigation led to the arrest of the six accused, who also destroyed houses, crops and burnt down many buildings.The accused were also arraigned for openly rearing their cows within farmlands at Akor village in Guma Council, thus contravening Section 97, 329, 333 and 222 of the Penal Code, Law of Benue State, and Section 19(2)(3) of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment law of Benue State, 2017.
When the case came up, no plea was taken for want of jurisdiction, but prosecution counsel, Edward Imoh, asked for another date.The presiding Chief Magistrate, Ajim, noted that the court could not grant the accused persons bail, because the charges against them were very grave, and adjourned the case until March 5, this year, for further mention.
He ordered that they be remanded at the Federal Prison in Makurdi.Reacting to the court proceeding, counsel to the accused, Almustapha Elegu, said he did not raise any objection to the proceeding because there was no basis for that at the moment, saying at the appropriate time, the case would be moved to the High Court.