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.”