Apr. 23, 2014
by Misbahu Bashir, Kaduna, Ronald Mutum & Abubakar Sadiq Isah
Bandits rustled 625 cattle in a span of three days in Kaduna and Abuja in continuation of animal theft that is becoming a daily nightmare in states across the north.
In Kaduna the bandits announced to the herders they are coming back in a few weeks to take away their women and kill all the men they find in the rural community.
In Abuja they stole about 205 cattle from three farms and then raped a 15-year-old girl after the father said he had no money to give them.
Thousands of cattle were stolen by the raiders between September 2013 and March 2014 making livestock rearing, which until recently stood as the major income earner for the rural populace, a risky business.
In Kaduna, the raiders invaded herders’ camps around Jere town for the second time on Saturday, stealing over 300 heads of cattle and dozens of goats and sheep.
Two days earlier, they attacked Gidan Madu and Aribi were they stole 48 and 57 cattle respectively.
A herder, Abdullahi Ja’e, said the raiders entered the camps at night in coordinated manner heavily armed, with some wearing face masks. They moved from camp to camp moving out herds of cattle between 43 and 80 at a time.
“The thieves were in two groups and operated in many locations around Jere town. The first group launched their attack near Chinka village along the Jere-Kagarko road around 9:30pm. At one Fulani camp near Chinka, they stole about 77 cattle; from there they moved to a nearby Fulani settlement and moved away over 80 cattle as well as dozens of goats and sheep.”
He said in both places, the thieves asked the herders to remain calm and avoid raising alarm in any form before they drove the herds.
“Some of them are bearing face masks while others were not but they all bear arms and carry Dane guns, swords and machetes.”
He said the attackers moved to another settlement near Gidan Kwasau and attacked herdsmen there. They stole about 43 cattle belonging to a man in Jere town. “The thieves who spoke in Hausa said they were sent to steal livestock only and will not kill anyone.
“Those wearing masks were actually the ones speaking and at Gidan Kwasau they told the people that another gang will return in month’s time to kill people and abduct women. He said it appeared that the thieves had some informants among them who knew the location of all the cattle pen in the areas they attacked. They moved from one place to another without difficulties.”
He said while the attack around the Kagarko road lasted for almost three hours another gang stormed camps located near the Abuja-Kaduna road in the Jere district. Musa Na Musa said he had about 53 cattle and all were stolen on April 19 but about 5 cows have returned.
He said “The thieves came in large numbers around 12 midnight while it was raining.
“Abdullahi had left the tent to go and inspect the cattle and to make sure that they don’t destroy newly planted crops in the adjacent farms, when the thieves struck. They surrounded his tent with guns in their hands while he was on the other side of the pen seeing them as lightening sparks. When they were sure he was not in the tent, they suspected him to be hiding nearby and begun firing their guns randomly which made him sneak into the shrubs. They later moved all the cattle and some sheep away.”
He said the gun sound alerted some herders around about the presence of thieves; they cleverly drove their herds to other locations.
Another source who pleaded for anonymity for safety reasons said the gang that took 53 cattle from the camp near the Abuja highway also went to another farm where a herd belonging to one family was kept and attacked the herders. He said the thieves took away about 67 cattle with them and threatened to kill anyone that reveal their identity to the police. “The thieves told the herders that they have informants all over the place who could take them to anyone who disclose their identity and I have no doubt about what they said. There are indications that some of them are living around and knew almost everybody in the area.”
He said the police were informed of what was happening as soon as the thieves arrived at Gidan Kwasau but they made no attempt to arrest “even one gang of raiders.” At first the divisional officer deployed some policemen in a van to work with the local vigilante group and trace the rustler. They went to Katari and search few places and returned, he said adding that “the police later said they can only help in the search if the herders know the exact location of the thieves.”
He said the vigilantes set out in search of the stolen cattle alone thereafter. “They found the hideout of the raiders at a “forest near Kweri hills not far away from Kaguni. There is another hideout at same forest after Kudiri but the vigilantes who disguised as hunters got no firepower to tackle the thieves and had to simply abandon their mission and turn back. No one can go to the places where the thieves live unless they have enough weapons and know the terrain.”
The police confirmed that they got the report of cattle raid in Jere on Monday and have since commenced investigation.
Police spokesman Superintendent Aminu Lawan said yesterday on telephone “the report of cattle theft in the Jere area was received on Monday and detectives are working together with the locals to trace the whereabouts of the thieves. Over a hundred cattle were said to have been stolen from the areas and effort is being made to find the thieves and recover the stolen herds.”
Lawan said police have taken enough measures to curtail the occurrence of similar incidence in future.
In Abuja a gang of rustlers Thursday night invaded Anguwar Beshi at Paikon-Kore community in Gwagwalada Area Council and stole 132 cows
A victim, Malam Isah Shanshani, who disclosed this to our reporter yesterday, said 24 rustlers armed with sophisticated weapons, invaded the community at about 12:10 am and shot severally in to the air.
He said the rustlers, who came to the community through the bush path went straight to his room, woke him up and demanded a gun and money from him.
He said when he told them he had no gun or money they locked him up inside the room and proceed to cart away all the cows in front of the house.
He said they stole 27 cows from his neighbough and took away 105 cattle belonging to him.
As they were about to leave, theysaw a 15-year old daughter of the security man guarding the place and they raped her, he said.
He said despite several phone calls placed to the police men at Gwagwalada, there was no response until at about 11 am on Friday.
Another victim, Alhaji Haruna Dan Marayan Zaki, also said the same gang came and carted away 27 cows he was rearing.
“These men were carrying sophisticated guns. The security men guarding the place after hearing the sound of gunshot run for cover, that was what saved them from being hurt,” he said.
Daily Trust also gathered that another gang of cattle rustlers have two days later invaded a farm belonging to a senior police officer at Dafa community in Kwali area council, and carted away 102 cows.
When contacted yesterday, the spokesperson of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Police Command, DSP Altine Daniel said, “there was an incident like that, and efforts are still being made to capture the culprits and recover the stolen cattle.”