625 cat­tle rus­tled in Abuja, Kaduna

*Rustlers prom­ise to re­turn abduct women, kill men

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - From 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.”

PHOTO Ikechukwu Ibe

A sol­dier pun­ish­ing a com­muter at a mil­i­tary check­point in Kugbo, along Nyanya-AYA road in Abuja yes­ter­day.

PHOTO:

Traf­fic grid­lock caused by a mil­i­tary check­point along Nyanya-AYA Ex­press­way at Kugbo in Abuja yes­ter­day.

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