Two herdsmen were yesterday arrested in Benue State after they exchanged fire with troops 707 Special Forces Brigade troops on a routine patrol along Gbajimba – Iyiodeh road in Guma Local Government Area.
They were arrested close to a fish farm owned by Governor Samuel Ortom.
The spokesman of 707 Special Forces Brigade Makurdi, Major Olabisi Ayeni, said the suspects were planning a dangerous mission but were sighted by the roops on patrol.
According to Major Ayeni the militia who were suspected to be converging, possibly for an attack on Ortom’s farm and other citizens’, were about to be approached for questioning when they opened fire on the troops as they made to run away but were engaged and two of them arrested.
Major Ayeni said the two herdsmen were handed over to the police.
Also yesterday, the police arraigned an 18-year-old herder, Abu Shagari, in a Makurdi Magistrates’ Court, for alleged open grazing.
The prosecutor, Sgt. Abdulkarim Abubakar, told the court that the accused person was arrested by a team of vigilance group, led by Gwaza Jacob.
He said the accused person was subsequently handed over to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) in Makurdi on January 21.
Abubakar said the team was on patrol on Adaka Road in Makurdi metropolis, when they saw the accused person taking his cattle to openly graze on the field.
He said the accused person hailed from Shabu village in Nasarawa State.
The prosecutor averred that other herders in company of the accused person were at large.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the accused person pleaded guilty to the charges.
The prosecutor prayed the court to enter a summary judgment on the accused person, based on his guilty plea in line with Section 157 of the CPC.
However, My Jijani Ahmed, counsel to the accused person, had urged the court to reverse the plea of guilty to not guilty in the interest of justice.
He said his client must be given the opportunity to defend himself and for the prosecution to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt before a judgment could be entered.
The Magistrate, Mr Emmanuel Azembe, held that the accused person must give full explanation of his plea and the consequences that followed it.
He asked Shagari to show cause why the court should not convict him on the grounds of his plea.
The magistrate, however, extended a life line to the accused person by asking if he could change his plea to “not guilty’’.
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