By Hammed Salawu, Minna Special Adviser to the Niger State Governor on Niger East Matters, Mr. Pius Wakili, yesterday, raised alarm that armed Fulani herdsmen are still on the prowl in several villages in Niger East Senatorial District. The outcry by the special adviser and former state assembly member contradicts the claim by the police that it has been able to send Fulani herdsmen away from the various forests where they operated indiscriminately early in the year. ‘‘We have reports from most villages that these cattle rustlers totting AK 47 rifles are moving freely in forests in Allawa, Galadima Kogo, Erena and other villages. Though they are not attacking people, but it is feared that they may soon return to their old habit.’’ Not less than 37 people had been killed in several attacks on these villages by herdsmen, while several property were destroyed. A large number of cattle were also rustled though security agents recovered some and handed them over to their owners. Wakili called on the Joint Security Taskforce on cattle rustling ‘‘to intensify surveillance patrol in villages across Zone B as these armed herders suspected to be rustlers have begun to hibernate in areas months after they were dislodged’’. Wakili, who spoke to journalists in Minna, added that ‘‘there is an urgent need for the taskforce to act fast to prevent rustlers from striking in villages.’’ While commending the joint taskforce for curtailing the activities of cattle rustlers in parts of the state, the special adviser said the reappearance of ‘thieves’ had become a source of worry and fear to the villagers who are afraid to go out for their farming activities. ‘There is need for security men to intensify patrol of the areas because our people have been noticing movements of armed men some without cows parading the villages with sophisticated weapons.’’ He, however, advised the villagers to ‘remain calm and peaceful’, while government handles the situation. When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elikana, said the force is just hearing this report, we will investigate it and act appropriately.’’ DSP Elikana, however, said the joint task force monitoring forests in the area are still on the operation.


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