Herdsmen and local farmers working in a farm settlement at Mararaba Gatea in Kokona local government area of Nassarawa State in the early hours of yesterday buried their differences and foiled attempt by heavily armed bandits and cattle rustlers to invade a cattle ranch in the area.
Although no casualty was recorded and no arrest made, the rustlers were said to have left the scene of the crime before the arrival of the Police from Garaku Central Police Command, Keffi, after their attempt to move about 54 cows from the ranch was aborted by local farmers and herdsmen.
The gunmen were overwhelmed by the resistance put up by the farmers and herdsmen who deployed an intelligence approach of refusing to confront them, a delay tactics that kept the bandits in abeyance till dawn.
The criminals, who were said to have invaded the farm settlement belonging to Nigeria Farmers Group and Corporative Society unnoticed, cut off the security lights around the perimeters and pulled down the fence of the ranch made of barbwires before starting operation at about 3:45am.
The Garaku Divisional Police Officer, SP Abdulahi Inuwa Zandam, who confirmed the incident told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the Police got a distress call, adding that even though the call came a little bit late, a patrol team was immediately dispatched to the scene.
He said following the incident, he has given an order to increase the level of patrol in the area, just as he advised that people should not be hesitant in calling security agencies in such circumstances.
Also speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, National Coordinator of Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society, Mr Retson Tedhke, said he got a call from his staff and security personnel in the farm at about 3:45am on Saturday morning informing him of the incident.
Tedhke said, “They were eight in number armed with AK 47 riffles, knowing my boys were armless and cannot confront them. They almost succeeded in taking away 54 cows from our ranch but the cows knew they were strange and refused to move out of the ranch through the main entrance.
“So, they devised another means by pulling down the fence made of barbwires and tried to force them out but still, the animals refused to move at a pace they had initially wanted. By this time the signal have gone to the locals and other youths around the community. Despite this, the herdsmen in the farm were helpless because they cannot confront people with AK 47 pointing at them.
“We are experiencing this for the first time. I suspect that these armed bandits are coming from neighbouring states where they may have been chased out by security forces. That the suspected bandits may have noticed that the military check points around the area was dismantled recently and moved to states like Benue”.
Tedhke appealed to the government to increase security presence in the area to protect their investment, saying any security threat that will force them out of the farm will not only hamper the ongoing federal government agricultural revolution but will also render the over 500 staff of the cooperative jobless.
Narrating the incident, one of the herdsmen working in the ranch, Sumaila Danguma, said, “We were sleeping when we heard clucking and gobbling sounds from the poultry house in the farm. Suddenly, we noticed that the security lights around the ranch all went off. That was when we noticed something was going on. They pulled down the fence and wanted to force the cows out but initially, it was difficult for them.
“We could not do anything because they were all armed. We had no choice than to watch them forcing the cows out till they got to a point where it was clear to them that it was not possible for them to take the cows away”.
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