STAR FEAT Kidnapping: W declining along
Cattle rustling and kidnapping have combined to expel many nomads from the Abuja-Kaduna highway, which is a fertile and well-watered area. Investigations show that the total sum of N23m has been paid to kidnappers as ransoms by just 37 herders in Jere and
Background t is early August and the Snake charmer begins to chant. A crowd gathers drawn by his poetry. It is amazing that a crowd can form here to catch fun, for the people face challenges from armed bandits as well as kidnappers. His trade suggests that the reign of kidnappers will soon end, for he has tamed a snake which could otherwise have been harmful. The snake now has economic value for the charmer, who also trades in cures for snake bites and other items, so too can the kidnapper or rustler be reformed or an end brought to his activities. This is the SCC Junction Jere, Kaduna State, where there is a Sunday market, and people from communities both far and near, gather there as they have for many years. The charmer dances and speaks close to a box which lies at his feet. He rises and utters a warning and points, when he notices this reporter taking his picture.
IThe need to interview nomads affected by kidnapping and cattle rustling along the highway, led me to the market that Sunday afternoon, and the market lies in territory frequented by kidnappers and rustlers. This vast territory is divided by the AbujaKaduna highway along which can be found many forests and enclaves which a kidnapper or cattle rustler could use to advantage. This is a wealthy road and it is richer than the pastoral folk and many other groups who live on both sides of it. N1.58bn was spent on emergency repairs along the road earlier this year. The tarred inanimate form is rich, and the humans who move about, live and breathe by it, are poor or are becoming poorer by the day. This is also a story of a rich road and poor pastoralists. Many of the nomads have migrated to distant places such as Zamfara, Kwara and Oyo states as a fallout of frequent kidnappings, and rustling of cattle which has impoverished the group. One source adds ‘between Jere and Rijana there were 250 Fulani camps at one time. Today, there are only 50 left. They have all gone.’
Dr.Ibrahim Mohammed, the Assistant Secretary General, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) comments on Fulani settlement in the area “With the crises that happened in the southern part of Kaduna state some years ago, a greater percentage of Fulani migrated to this area, and they populated places like Tafa, Kagarko, Katari, Rijana etc. They are in thousands and we are talking of millions of
cattle. But now that this is happening,they have decided to migrate to other areas.” Dr. Mohammed says “As I am talking to you now, about 80% of the entire nomadic settlements have migrated to neighbouring states, like Kogi and even up to Oyo State. Some of them are still migrating to Katsina and Zamfara states. The percentage is high to the extent that any Fulani man that you see along the highway will not be a settled Fulani. He is a migrating Fulani who is there because he is plying a stock route that passes through that area.” He adds that many nomads are avoiding the highway and contiguous portions of it, owing to the notoriety of the area. Mohammed Dauji, a farmer, also sheds light on the changes that have come upon the pastoralists “Kidnapping has destroyed our people’s lives for they have lost their wealth and they have migrated. Out of one hundred, 80% have migrated from here to Lokoja, Ilorin and even Nasarawa State.” Mohammed Shiga who works with the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) agrees that a lot has changed in the lives of the pastoralists in the area.
This is the state of affairs in many of the communities that lie alongside the 165 km long Abuja-Kaduna expressway. But many nomads have had their herds stolen, or they have had to dispose of same to settle huge ransoms presented by kidnappers. From time to time, the kidnappers ask a nomad to pay money so that he or members of his family won’t be kidnapped. This is a sort of protection fee. To guard against this eventuality, he makes a payment and poverty begins to grow among the nomads, for they have to sell their cows to raise the monies demanded of them. It is also seen that in a family of nomads an individual could be kidnapped several times over. It is a continuing cycle. But cattle rustling has had impact on communities along the highway. A document provided by the National Commission for Nomadic Education(NCNE) indicates that cattle rustling has affected the economic stability of the resident communities along the highway, and it has pushed many Fulani youths to engage in
Muhammadu Chibi’s 2 wives were kidnapped for the sum of N650,000. Ahamad Adamu lost 60 cows to rustlers.
The population of cattle at Jere mark
Ardo Abdullahi Bello
Ardo Bawa Idris paid N250,000 to ward off the kidnappers.