Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has fixed June 11 to commence hearing in a suit seeking the proscription of Fulani herdsmen as a terrorist organization.
The plaintiff in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/499/18 is also seeking the “prohibition of all activities of Fulani herdsmen in Benue State that has resulted in the deliberate and intentional killings, masscare, 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 as acts of terrorism under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended.”
The suit instituted by a Makurdi-based legal practitioner, Matthew Nyiutsa, is specifically seeking the leave of court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney General of the Federation to move a court of competent jurisdiction to proscribe Fulani herdsmen operating in Benue State and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) as terrorist and terrorist organisations, respectively.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole fixed the date after the ex parte motion dated and filed at the registry of the court on May 11, 2018, brought pursuant to order 34 Rule (2) and (3) of the Federal High Court (civil procedure) rules, 2009 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court, was assigned to him for adjudication.
The lawyer, who resides in Guma, Benue, said he is one of the numerous victims of continuing Fulani herdsmen attacks on communities in the middle belt state.
He asked the court to declare as acts of terror the series of armed attacks, particularly from January to May, on inhabitants of communities in Guma, Logo, Makurdi, Gwer-East, Buruku, Tarka, Katsina-Ala and Ukum local government areas of Benue State by Fulani herdsmen, resulting in the death of over 200 persons, and the destruction of both private and public property. He cited section 1(3) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended, to argue his case.
The plaintiff, who is demanding the sum of N50 million as exemplary damages against the respondents, further asked the court to declare that the “Attorney General of the Federation and President Buhari (1st and 2nd respondents) 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 Fulani herdsmen by causing an application to lie before a court of competent jurisdiction for, inter alia, an order proscribing the Fulani herdsmen and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore (MAKH) having been reasonably suspected of carrying out the said criminal activities and acts of terrorism as terrorists and terrorists group respectively.”
He further prayed the court for a declaration that the threat issued by MAKH, through Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo and Engr. Saleh Al- Hassan, as National President and Secretary respectively, during a press conference in Kaduna sometime in June, 2017, to the effect of mobilising their members and other Fulani herdsmen to cause anarchy in Benue state amount to support for act of terrorism under section 5 of the Terrorism (prevention) Act, 2011 as amended and, therefore, he argued, renders the organisation liable to being held as a terrorist organisation.
The plaintiff deposed that he has suffered substantial injury from Fulani herdsmen attacks from 2014.
According to him, in 2014, nine of his family members were killed by armed Fulani herdsmen, including 24 members who were killed by Fulani herdsmen on January 1, 2018 at Tom-atar.
Attached to the suit were copies of death report by a coroner and report by a medical practitioner, and the programme for a mass burial of the deceased victims of the attacks.