BENUE: Cattle Rustlers Are Stealing Millions Worth of Cattle

  • The military know the thieves but do not go there to recover our cows

Apr. 2, 2014


Hopefully the latest peace treaty signed between the Fulani cattle rearers and the Benue farmers will hold this time.

There has been much death and damage from Fulani herdsmen and terrorists dressed as herdsmen and from cattle rustlers, farmers and the general populace.

Fulani’s earlier pulled out of peace talks citing the recent major theft of 561 cows worth millions of naira. “The soldiers know where our cows are but do not go to recover them,” the Fulani stated. “The cows are our entire fortunes for generations… this is our only profession, what do you want us to do when our entire herds are being stolen?”

There has been severe and deadly stealing of Fulani cows at the head of the violence. April 1st, a suspected cattle rustler, from Benue State but was arrested in Plateau, with 16 cows recovered from him at the time of his arrest.

According to PremiumTimes, May 31st, 2014:

The Fulani say they will return to the reconciliation table once their cows, allegedly stolen, are returned.

Prominent Fulani leaders in Plateau State have proffered ways out of the current stalemate in negotiations to achieve lasting peace between them and the Birom people.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands displaced in clashes between Fulani herdsmen and Birom people in Plateau.

Last week, the Fulanis boycotted reconciliation talks between the two sides. The talks are being coordinated by some prominent leaders within and outside the state at the Centre for Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace, Jos.

A meeting could not hold, Thursday last week, due to the absence of the Fulanis.

One of the Fulani leaders, Shehu Buba, who spoke by telephone to PREMIUM TIMES from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, said his people decided to suspend further participation at the talks because “two of their men were killed and 561 cows stolen”.

He said they realised that there was no point continuing with the discussion if their people continued to be killed and their cows stolen.

“They killed two of our boys and took away 561 cows and after some of their leaders intervened, they returned only 60, and as I speak to you, they still have 501 with them, What other trade do our people have other than rearing of cattle?” he asked.

He said that his people would only return to the reconciliation table if their cows are returned to them.

Mr. Buba claimed the military know where the cows are.

“They appear afraid to go there and retrieve the cows,” he alleged.

He said the Fulanis will participate in further peace-keeping talks once their stolen cows are returned.

Another prominent leader of the Fulani in Plateau State, Saleh Banyeri, informed PREMIUM TIMES that beyond the return of the cows, the Plateau State Government should institute a judicial commission of inquiry so that both sides could present their case and whoever is found wanting punished according to the law.

“During the administration of Joshua Dariye when this crisis first began, he set up a commission of inquiry under Justice Niki Tobi and both sides presented their cases and it helped the government then in curbing the menace,” he said.

News of the boycott by the Fulani last week was relayed via a seven-point communiqué after a meeting of the reconciliation panel read by the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama.

“We encourage the Fulani community to return to our dialogue table. We also share in their concern and appeal that they resume active participation in our ongoing dialogue and consultation,” the communique read.

The panel also appealed to all religious and ethnic/community groups to exercise self-restraint and to continue in the way of peace.

The communiqué also faulted the government for failing to control the killing of innocent people in the state.

“We observe with dismay the inability of the government and security agents to arrest and prosecute criminals and perpetrators of violence which has promoted acts of impunity,” the communiqué added.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the Special Task Force, STF, Salisu Mustapha, stated that even though he just resumed from a short break, he was sure there was no way the military would know where the stolen cows are kept and shy away from getting them back.

He also asked for more time to investigate the matter and urged the people with relevant information to furnish his office with it.

This post is supported by the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, funded by DFID and managed by a consortium led by the British Council