Niger’s beef with rustling, herder at­tacks

Weekly Trust - - News | Special Report -

able to pro­vide tem­po­rary in­ter­ven­tion to mit­i­gate the ef­fect of the at­tack on the dis­placed per­sons, while also tak­ing stock of the prop­erty lost in the clash for com­pen­sa­tion.

How­ever, un­like the herders and vil­lagers who have co­hab­ited at a spe­cific lo­ca­tion for a long pe­riod, the spon­ta­neous at­tacks by cat­tle rustlers who are mostly mi­grants, can hardly be re­solved through a peace ac­cord. Se­cu­rity agen­cies through joint op­er­a­tions were able in the past, to cur­tail the ac­tiv­i­ties by flush­ing them out of the state.

How­ever, with the seem­ing end of cat­tle rustling, kid­nap­ping has in­creased over­time in the state. Sta­tis­tics of kid­nap cases rose to over 40 monthly across the state among herders, al­most dou­bling those of cat­tle rustling, thereby giv­ing the po­lice top hi­er­ar­chy in the state sleep­less nights.

“It be­came a very lu­cra­tive en­ter­prise among herders across the state,” DSP Bala Elkana, the com­mand’s pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, said. It there­fore be­came im­per­a­tive for the com­mand to evolve a “lo­cal so­lu­tion” to solve a “lo­cal prob­lem” as com­mu­nity polic­ing ad­vo­cates had ar­gued.

Se­cu­rity agen­cies, es­pe­cially the po­lice, had to return to the draw­ing board, re­think the strat­egy and de­ploy an anti-kid­nap­ping unit to curb the ris­ing men­ace. The com­mand also went ahead to ini­ti­ate the idea of a vol­un­teer group of Fu­lani ex­trac­tion to fight the new wave of crime. The ges­ture led to the emer­gence of the Abubakar Shakallo group as a counter-force to as­sist the po­lice in the fight against kid­nap­ping.

“When cat­tle rustling be­came unattrac­tive be­cause of the risks in­volved, the per­pe­tra­tors, who are mostly of Fu­lani ex­trac­tion, re­sorted to kid­nap­ping”, Shakallo noted.

The group is ex­pected to serve as a “neigh­bour­hood watch” to as­sist the po­lice with in­for­ma­tion on the ac­tiv­i­ties of crim­i­nal el­e­ments within their places of abode. The mem­bers are also ex­pected to be on the look­out for for­eign herders who of­ten mi­grate with stolen cat­tle from neigh­bor­ing states, kid­nap­pers, cat­tle rustlers and armed ban­dits.

A non-vi­o­lent ap­proach aimed at per­suad­ing kid­nap­pers to re­nounce their ac­tiv­i­ties was also evolved. The ini­tia­tive yielded some re­sults with so many of them lay­ing down their arms and even join­ing the vol­un­teer group. The ef­fort led to sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in the ac­tiv­i­ties, es­pe­cially among herders.

How­ever, as the state cel­e­brated its suc­cess, there was a sud­den resur­gence of cat­tle rustling, es­pe­cially in Rafin and Shi­roro lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas with the at­tack on the sleepy Gbada com­mu­nity on Oc­to­ber 30 last year. The at­tack which took place at about 3am left five peo­ple dead, with many sus­tain­ing in­juries, while sev­eral cows were stolen.

They also at­tacked Kukoki in Shi­roro Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area about two weeks later, killing six peo­ple and seiz­ing 700 cows. The at­tacks trig­gered a mass ex­o­dus of peo­ple from neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties to Pan­dog­ari and Ka­gara towns.

Fol­low­ing the devel­op­ment, the state po­lice com­mand had to de­ploy 500 men to ar­eas des­ig­nated as dan­ger­ous points to strengthen the joint task force team al­ready on ground in Alawa, Shi­roro Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area. The Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Al­haji Zubairu Muzau, said the ban­dits were flee­ing mil­i­tary of­fen­sive in neigh­bor­ing states and were tak­ing refuge in forests bor­der­ing Kaduna and Zam­fara states.

He said the po­lice were tak­ing the bat­tle to the rustlers with the de­ploy­ment of three units which in­clude coun­tert­er­ror­ism, anti-cat­tle rustling and men of the Spe­cial Anti-Rob­bery Squad (SARS). The com­mand also be­gan air sur­veil­lance of trou­ble spots about a week later. How­ever, de­spite the heavy de­ploy­ments, the state still ex­pe­ri­ences pock­ets of at­tacks by cat­tle rustlers and armed ban­dits.

A 19-year-old se­nior sec­ondary school stu­dent was killed in a night at­tack by ban­dits in Angwa Umadi Vil­lage in Shi­roro on Jan­uary 7.The de­ceased was said to have been shot at close range when he went out to ease him­self. Flee­ing vil­lagers said 15 peo­ple were in­jured in the at­tack which lasted about an hour, while 212 cat­tle were rus­tled.

The war against crim­i­nals recorded a boost re­cently with the ground­break­ing cer­e­mony of a mo­bile po­lice unit in Kon­tagora by the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice, Al­haji Ibrahim K. Idris. Ac­cord­ing to the IGP, the mo­bile po­lice unit will check threats to na­tional se­cu­rity in form of cat­tle rustling, kid­nap­ping and armed ban­ditry in the North-cen­tral and North-west. Se­cu­rity ex­perts are op­ti­mistic that the ef­fort would go a long way in re­duc­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties in the state.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.