Godwin Tsa, Abuja
In the wake of the recession and high level of unemployment, government encouraged Nigerians to go into farming as a way of improving their living standards. However, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, those who gave ear to the call and invested heavily in farming activities, especially in the livestock sector, are now regretting their decisions, as their farmlands have been severally invaded by gun-trotting cattle rustlers.
The heart breaking development, which is on the rise, saw affected farmers counting their losses in a state of helplessness. Daily Sun discovered that over 20 farmhouses were affected in the FCT.
For instance, over six farms located at Karu, Kurudu and Karshi environs of the FCT alone, have been sporadically attacked by the marauding cattle rustlers within a spate of two weeks. They include Valerie Farms Nigeria Limited, Giza Farms, Glory Farms; Best Animal Farms and Nina Farms.
Some of the farmers painted a heart-rendering picture of how their life investments were wrecked by the activities of cattle rustlers. A staff of Valerie Farms Nigeria Limited, owned by a Veterinary doctor, who does not want his name in print for security reasons, narrated how in a single day, he lost 86 of his cows worth over N18 million to cattle rustlers who invaded his farm in the night:
“We were in the farm, about 10 of us, with our oga, preparing some chickens for the next day, when a group of armed men, about 11 of them, broke into the farm through a nearby hill, between Kurudu and Asokoro, with AK 47 rifles and held us hostage.
“They demanded for the keys where the cattle were kept. After taking possession of the keys, they opened the place and marched all our cows out and left, threatening to shoot anyone who may want to come after them.
“After they left, we called the police control room, including the Department of State Security (DSS) for hours but nobody picked till the phone battery went down. It appears the security agencies were afraid or deliberately refused to pick our calls.
“My brother let me confess to you. They have killed my Oga’s business. This was a big farm as you can see. We had cows, sheep and other livestock, but we have lost all of them to thieves.”
Another worker at Best Animal Farms narrated how they lost 40 cows and 20 sheep to suspected Fulani cattle rustlers in a single attack. He lamented that when the incident was reported to a senior police officer, at Force Headquarters, he dismissed it on the ground that it was not of “national security importance” and therefore, helicopters would not be deployed to track the rustlers.
When our correspondent visited the Jikwoyi Police Station, the police confirmed the development. Although the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) was not around, a senior police officer confirmed that the activities of cow rustlers are on the increase in the FCT, but that the police hierarchy is doing its best to curb the trend.
Meanwhile, the police authorities are currently prosecuting seven suspected cow rustlers at the High Court, Gudu District, FCT. They are Abubakar Bello (Dotti), Amadu Hassan, Lawal Usman (aka Land), Adamu Mohammed (aka Jango), Adamu Alhaji (aka Warere), Salifu Shehu (aka Landi) and Mudi Usman.
They were arraigned on a three-count charge in connection with the attack on Valerie Farms, where 86 cows valued at N18m were stolen. The police charged them with felony, armed robbery while armed with AK 47 rifles and thereby committed an offence under section 1(2) (a) and (b) of the Robbery and Fire arms (special provision) Act.
One of the suspects, Bello was charged with unlawful possession of one AK 47 rifle with three magazines and 29 rounds of live ammunition in contravention of fire arms Act and thereby committed an offence under section 3(1) of the Robbery and Fire arms (special provision) Act.