Cattle rustling are one big challenge Nigeria is fighting in recent times. No day passes without any incident of cattle rustling or arrest of cattle rustlers in one part of the country or the other. Senior Crime Correspondent IORAKPEN ISHU-JOSEF looks at some recent incidents.
Sokoto State Police Command, last week, confirmed the killing of two persons by cattle rustlers in Kamarawa village, Isa local government area.
The command’s spokesman, El-Mustapha Sani, told a press conference in Sokoto that, “I can authoritatively confirm the attack by the hoodlums at around 8.00 p.m. on Dec.9, leading to the death of two persons, while two others were injured.”
Crime Beat gathered that the rustlers also burnt several houses, carted away motorcycles and several livestock ranging from cows, sheep, as well as donkeys.
The police spokesman further said the hoodlums arrived the village on motorcycles, armed with dane -guns and other deadly locally-made weapons. Sani also stated that the state police command had concluded arrangements to deploy more detachments of mobile policemen to the village.
“The gesture is to complement the efforts of the various crack squads of mobile police and military men who have been routinely patrolling the troubled area,” he explained.
In the same vein, the acting chairman of the local government, Alhaji Nasiru Bello, commended the police for taking proactive measures which greatly helped in restoring normalcy to the area.
Bello appealed to the command to permanently station a detachment of policemen to the village. “The menace of cattle rustling has become disturbingly too frequent in the area and other surrounding villages. The permanent deployment of the proposed detachment of the mobile policemen would greatly help in curbing the obnoxious menace,” he said.
In Kaduna State, 232 cows were recovered by the Operation Yaki Patrol Team in a joint operation with the Saminaka Divisional Police Patrol Team on Monday 7th November, 2015 at about 8:30pm.
This followed a tip-off that some cattle rustlers had arrived at Jama’ariya village in Lere local government area of Kaduna State with cows suspected to have been stolen.
The spokesman of Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, Samuel Aruwan, disclosed in a press statement that, “immediately, the security operatives raced to the village, the cattle rustlers engaged the team in a gun duel and as a result, two of the rustlers were killed while others rustlers escaped into the bush with gunshot wounds, abandoning the cows, one locally made SMG rifle, 3 pairs of army uniform and 12 9mm live ammunition.
The cows and the items recovered were handed over to the Saminaka divisional police headquarters for further investigation to ascertain the true owners of the cows for claims while effort was being intensified to track down the fleeing rustlers.”
Similarly, the Niger State Police Command announced the arrest of 4 suspected cattle rustlers and the recovery of no fewer than 340 cattle from the suspects.
The command made the arrests last Thursday at about 1am, following a tip off by members of the public.
Police operatives carried out the raid at Ungwa Kuka village, in Beji, Bosso local government of the state.
It was gathered that the suspects arrested included one Mohammed Abubakar, Mohammed Tanyi, Mohammed Bashir and Mohammed Bello.
Police sources at the Niger State criminal investigation department, who pleaded for anonymity, revealed that the suspects have since confessed to the crime during investigation.
Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, the state ASP Bala Elkana confirmed that with the latest arrests, the command is winning the war against the crimes, adding that the state police commissioner has urged owners of the recovered cattle to come and collect them with prove of ownership.
“And as soon as the rightful owners of the recovered 340 rustled cattle come forward to claim their animals with prove of ownership, their animals shall be released to them by the police on bond, after they must have identified them individually,” said Elkana.
He stated that the four suspected rustlers are being detained by the command’s headquarters, Minna, the state capital, and would be charged to court as soon as investigation was concluded.
This challenge forced the governors of Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara and Niger states to met in Kaduna, last October, to endorse another round of cooperation.
Kastina State governor, Alhaji Aminu Masari, who chaired the meeting, told the press that the meeting was convened to review progress made so far and to renew the initiative, which would end on October 26.
He said: “As you know, we have a joint agreement to fight cattle rustling and acts of criminality in our states. So far, the result has been very encouraging and we want to renew the cooperation because this phase will end on October 26. That is the main reason for the meeting. We have adjourned for today (Saturday) and will continue tomorrow (Sunday).”
Asked what went wrong when rustlers, last month in Shiroro local government area of Niger State, killed scores of villagers and left with their cattle, he said: “The Kamaku/Kuyanbana forest reserve are very large bodies of forests. They extend up to Senegal. It is not easy to patrol every space there. And you know these dangerous thieves have foreign elements. Many of them that have been caught are not Nigerians. So, it was an unfortunate incident and we are going to help ensure that the operation covers as many areas as possible this time.”
On how much the operation would cost these states, he said “you will only know what it cost at the end of the operation, when we get rid of the criminals.”
It would be recalled that in July this year, governors of Niger, Kaduna, Sokoto Kebbi, Kastina and Zamafara agreed to fund a joint operation of the Nigeria military, Directorate of State Security, DSS, the Police and Nigerian Civil Defence Corps to comb for criminals at the Kamuku/Kuyanbana forests areas which borders all the states. The enclave was seen as a den of bandits and rustlers.
In August, it was reported that the operation led to the recovery of at least 1000 stolen cows and hundreds of other livestock from the Birnin Gwari area of Kamuku forest alone.
But for the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sunusi II, the Nigeria judiciary should punish cattle rustlers with the maximum legal punishment.
The emir stated this during the presentation of the 72 suspected cattle rustlers arrested in the notorious Falgore forest in Tudun Wada local government area of the state.
He also advised the governments to resolve the provision of grazing reserve for the Fulani’s so that not only cattle rustling but clashes between them and farmers would be stop.