The Nigerian Police has unveiled a technology which is designed to bring to an end, the incessant cattle rustling in the country. The initiative, according to the police, is aimed at preventing cattle rustling which has been prevalent in the country in recent times. The high-tech and user-friendly technology which was developed by a private firm, would apart from being used to ascertain the actual population and demography of our national herds rather than the currently used estimated figures, also help in tracing and tracking of animals stolen or rustled.
The technology according to the police, would also prove useful in improving Nigeria’s international ranking in livestock and animal information transparency which is sine qua non in international trade in livestock and livestock products and it will impact positively on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation.
Cattle rustling and pastoralists-farmers clashes have inflicted a lot of pains, fears, anxiety and concern on all Nigerians and the international community, as affirmed by the Chairman of the Implementation Committee for the Curtailment of Cattle Rustling in Nigeria, ICCCRN, Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, Charles Ugomuoh, who unveiled the technology.
The new technology, in our view, is a remarkable milestone by the committee which was set-up by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) with the mandate to develop a world class tool and technology that would assist the committee in carrying out its mandate of proper animal identification and tracking for the overall purpose of eliminating the seemingly intractable national menace of cattle rustling and pastoralists-farmers clashes. Before the launch of the new technology, the committee had been carrying out its mandate through provision and application of animal loading and offloading permits, adherence to use of designed cattle stock routes, institutionalisation of usage of designated grazing reserves and corridors and most importantly, proper cattle ownership identification, tracing and tracking of animals using appropriate technologies.
It is highly regrettable that the once cherished oneness and unity among the several segments of our nation, irrespective of ethnic or religious differences has been completely eroded, leading to high level of mutual distrust between different sections of the country. This mistrust has led to series of crises between people who once lived peacefully in various parts of the country. Nigeria has witnessed an escalation of deadly clashes between farmers and herdsmen in parts of Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Niger, Nasarawa and Kaduna, among others, in the last three years. The attacks resulted in loss of lives and farm investments worth billions of naira, thus threatening the country’s drive towards food security. This is in addition to rising cases of cattle rustling. Cattle rustling for instance, has been said to be at the root of some of the clashes between herders and farmers in the communities they live and do business in. These clashes are often ignited when cattle stray into a farm and eat a farmer’s crops and the farmer in a bid to get his pound of flesh, steals some cow from the herd and then the herder also attacks to take his revenge and the vicious cycle of crisis continues. This was reported to be the case in Agatu community of Benue State when the former inspector-general of police, Solomon Arase, visited the state on a fact-finding mission in the aftermath of the clashes between farmers and herders in Agatu community. The Agatu people reportedly rustled and killed 10,000 cattle belonging to the Fulani, leading to reprisal attacks by the Fulani.
In our well-considered opinion, the new technology will complement the federal government’s Agro Rangers programme, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Federal Ministry of Interior, designed to protect farmers and their investments from attacks by criminals. Cattle rustling is a serious economic crime operated by sophisticated and well-armed syndicates who must be treated like the criminals that they are. We therefore urge the police committee to deploy this new technology to checkmate the activities of these daredevil bandits feasting off the struggle of cattle herders even as we urge that diligent prosecution should be carried out if any of the rustlers are apprehended, to deter others who may be nursing similar evil plans.