Judge Hands Off Suit Seeking To Declare Herdsmen Terrorists

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Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja declined to preside over a suit seeking to declare herdsmen terrorists.

The suit was lodged before the court by a Makurdi-based legal practitioner, Mr. Matthew Nyiutsa.

The plaintiff told the court that nine members of his family were in 2014, massacred in cold blood by armed herdsmen, with another set of victims from 24 different families, killed by armed herders on January 1, 2018 at Tom-atar in Benue.

Attached to the suit were copies of death report to Coroner and report by Medical practitioner, as well as burial programme for mass burial of the victims of attacks by herdsmen.

Chief Judge of the Federal High Court had on the basis of a request of urgency that was made by the plaintiff, permitted that the suit which has suffered series of set backs since it was filed in May 11, 2018, be heard during the court’s vacation.

Consequently, the matter was handed to Justice Dimgba who is sitting as the vacation Judge.

Meanwhile, when the case came up for hearing yesterday, Justice Dimgba said he was not comfortable to adjudicate on the matter as a vacation judge.

He told the plaintiff who appeared in person thay the case file would be returned to the Chief Judge to be re- assigned to a regular court after vacation.

Specifically, the plaintiff had in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/499/18, prayed the court to proscibe activities of Fulani herdsmen in Benue State he said have resulted in the deliberate and intentional killings, massacre, wanton destruction of both private and public properties, including residential and commercial houses, schools, hospitals/ clinic, markets, water boreholes/reservoirs, invasion of ancestral lands of the inhabitants.

He contended that activities of marauding herders in Benue and other parts of the country constituted acts of terrorism under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended.

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He further applied for leave of the court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation to move a court of competent jurisdiction to proscribe herdsmen operating in Benue State and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as terrorists and terrorist organisations, respectively.

The lawyer, who told the court that he resides in Guma Local government Area of the state, said he was one of the numerous victims of continued herdsmen attacks on communities in Benue State.

He urged the court to declare that series of armed attacks, particularly from January 1, 2018 to May, 2018, on inhabitants of communities in Guma, Logo, Makurdi, Gwer-East, Buruku, Tarka, Katsina-Ala and Ukum Local government Areas of Benue State by herdsmen in Mbadwen, Uvir, Mbabai, Nyier, Mbayer/Yandev and Saghev Council wards of Guma Local government and some parts of Gwer- West Local government Areas, amounted to acts of terrorism as defined under section 1(3) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended.

Aside praying the court to award N50 million as exemplary damages against the Respondents, the plaintiff further sought a declaration that the AGF and President Buhari, have mandatory statutory duties and obligations under section 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, to act in the circumstances of the prevailing acts of terrorism perpetuated by the herdsmen.

More so, he wants a declaration that the threat issued by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, through Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo and Saleh Al- Hassan as its National President and Secretary, respectively, during a press conference at Kaduna sometime in June, 2017, to the effect that they would mobilise their members and other herdsmen to cause anarchy in Benue state, amounted to support for act of terrorism under section 5 of the Terrorism (prevention) Act, 2011, as amended.