The Supreme Court has sentenced 15 herdsmen to various terms of imprisonment ranging from ten years to life imprisonment for their roles in the communal crisis, which erupted in January 2010 culminating in attacks and counter attacks around Kadunu village in Mangu local government area of Plateau State
The herdsmen however escaped death sentence because as at the time of commission of the offence and sentencing, the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013, which prescribes death penalty for anyone on conviction for commission of acts of terrorism was yet to be enacted by the National Assembly.
A five-member panel of the highest court in the land headed by Justices Olabode Rhodes-Vivour affirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Jos.
Other members of the panel are Justices Mary Ukaegbo Peter-Odili, John Inyang Okoro, Amiru Sanusi and Sidi Dauda Bage.
The appellate court in Jos had upheld the decision of the Federal High Court in Jos, which dismissed the appeal filed by one of the herdsmen, Isah Bello, saying it lacks merit.
The 15 Fulani herdsmen were charged, convicted and sentenced for acts of terrorism, conspiracy and extra-judicial possession of firearms.
They are Mohammed Auwal, Ibrhim Yusuf, Salihu Jibrin, Abdulkarim Mohammed, Suliman Jibrin, Muhammed Jibri, Suleiman Jibrin, Musa Abdulmumuni, Isah Bello, Abdulhamid Bello, Isa Dauda and Ibrahim Jibrin.
In January 2010, there was communal crisis that culminated in attacks and counter attacks around Kadunu village in Mangu local government area of Plateau State. During the crises, there were massive destruction of lives and properties in the area.
The special taskforce of the federal government meant to restore law and order went to the scene of the disturbances and seized various kinds of ammunitions that were used by the rioters, such as guns, arrows and bows.
The taskforce arrested those found in the vicinity of the crises that later claimed they were victims of the disturbances but that they were in the process of escaping when they were arrested.
After investigation, the herdsmen were found culpable, and consequently arraigned and tried before the high court.
The herdsmen were arraigned before the Federal High Court for alleged commission of offence under Section 518 (5) of the Criminal Code Act, Sections 5(1) and 27(1) of the Firearms Act and Section 15 (2) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
Justice A.L. Allagoa on December 16, 2010 found them guilty, convicted and sentenced them to various term of imprisonment allowed by the law under which they were charged to court.
As at the time of commission of the offence and sentencing, the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013, which prescribes death penalty for anyone on conviction for commission of acts of terrorism was yet to be enacted by the National Assembly.
The law now insists that “any person or group of persons who directly or indirectly, willingly does, attempts or threatens any act of terrorism, amongst others, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to maximum of death sentence’’.
Dissatisfied with the conviction and sentence by Justice Allagoa, each of the herdsmen appealed to the Court of Appeal, which consequently upheld the judgement of the high court.
Justice Sidi Dauda Bage of the Supreme Court who delivered the lead judgement held that the two lower courts were concurrent in their decisions and that the apex court does not have reasons to interfere in their findings of facts arrived at.
‘’The appeal lacks merit and it is dismissed, and I affirm the judgement of the Court below upholding the trial court’s decision’’, he ruled.