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The study dwells on the recent upsurge in Cattle rustling in Birnin gwari local government Kaduna state, Nigeria. Cattle’s rustling involves attacking rural communities with dangerous weapons and the stealing of their livestock by the gang of rural bandits. These acts result in the indiscriminate killing of innocent livestock owners, farmers, rural traders, vigilante group members, rape and abduction of young girls and married women and burning of hamlets/settlements by the various gang of cattle rustlers operating in the affected areas which usually result in mass migration of innocent rural dwellers out of the conflict areas of Birnin gwari to a more safer regions. This has negatively affected the area economically and undermined the social fibre of the rural communities. The study set out to find the reasons for the recent upsurge in cattle rustling in the affected towns of Birnin gwari local government. Data were collected using a survey while in-depth interviews were conducted with some of the stakeholders in the affected areas such as Police officers, victims and community leaders. The data collected were analyzed using tables to show the percentages of each response. The findings indicated that, the upsurge in cattle rustling can be attributed to a number of factors among which are proliferation of fire arms among the Fulani herdsmen, unethical activities of the rural vigilante groups, influence of violent culture, lack of adequate or complete absence of security personnel presence in the affected towns. As a way forward the research recommends that, government should as a matter of urgency embark on comprehensive disarmaments of all parties involved which led to reprisal attacks and adequate security is immediately provided to the affected communities and other vulnerable communities which is prone to attack. 




Cattle’s rustling is a practice of stealing livestock for either economic or social gain. Livestock is fundamental form of pastoral capital, besides functioning as a means of production, storage, transport, and transfer of food and wealth. Natural resources such as pasture, water, natural vegetation, and livestock are key drivers of the rural economy. However, reduced access to these resources, in particular grazing land and cattle routes has increasingly put the rural people especially cattle owners under intense pressure. (Kapron, T.P. 2013).

The phenomenon of cattle thefts is an ancient practice that is associated with societies suffering from social and economic upheavals and where the structures and functioning of leadership and government have collapsed or are significantly weakened (Mohammed and Jibrin, 2015).

Traditionally theft of livestock has been driven by the criminal intent to expropriate cow for meat or for sale. Pertinently, it must have served as a means of primitive accumulation of cow-herd in the contexts of subsistence and commercial pastoralism (Okoli and Opaleke, 2014).

Hitherto, this phenomenon is usually triggered by either a loss of herds due to famine, drought, or cattle diseases. In traditional African communities, cattle rustling are perpetrated when young person or children were sent to the bush with livestock for grazing, this gives the rustlers an easy opportunity to threaten and rustled the livestock from the young person’s looking after the animals with utmost ease without any resistance.

But recent incidences of cattle rustling in north western Nigeria especially in Kaduna state has presented a different scenario. The upsurge in cattle rustling and rural banditry affecting villages and towns in Kaduna state is attributed to the increased sophistication of the rustlers who were mostly armed with dangerous weapons while attacking the targeted villages.

Also in recent period, rural banditry and violent conflict between pastoralists and farmers in Nigeria have been on the rise. This social conflict has traditionally consisted of dispute over natural resources and is often presented as a conflict between pastoralists and farmers over land have recently developed into rural banditry with heavy human and economic cost, ranging from the sexual assault of women and girls, attacks on villages, to cattle rustling, among others (Mohammed and Jibrin, 2015).

Over the years, cattle’s rustling has evolved into a pattern of organized crime with immense criminal sophistication and efficiency. Hence, contemporary cattle rustlers operate with modern weaponry and their operation are marked by trans- locational and trans-national syndication (Okoli and Opaleke 2014).

To corroborate further the devastating effect of cattle all over Nigeria, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has alleged that at least 40 million cattle have been stolen from its members across the country in the last two years. (People’s Daily 26 March, 2015).

This new pattern of organised criminal syndicate of cattle rustlers with enough numerical strength and fire power has made it imperative for the local vigilantes to recruit more members and to expand their operation to cover most of the vulnerable villages/hamlets devastated by the activities of cattle rustlers. The activities of the vigilantes in some of the villages/hamlets in the respective towns of Birnin gwari local government area, which is aimed at targeting the suspected cattle rustlers was usually uncoordinated which invariably triggered reprisal killing with vigilante members and cattle owners as the major casualties.

The towns affected by the activities of cattle rustlers in Birnin gwari local government of Kaduna state were largely porous with difficult terrain which made it almost impracticable for effective patrol and surveillance to be feasible. This made it easy for the rustlers to operate unabated on motorcycles, armed with dangerous weapons. Upon arrival at any targeted villages/ hamlets they shoot sporadically to scare the local vigilantes and cattle owners, sometimes inflicting serious injuries or multiple deaths to the victims in order to do away with any resistance from the cattle owners so that they can move the rustled cattle easily to their hideouts in the forest.

The problem was further aggravated by the migration of foreign nomads into some of the forested areas of Shittu, Tudun jega, Bagom, and Goron dutse towns of Birnin gwari Local Government from various regions. This was as a result of drought, famine, or armed conflict; these have invariably undermined the efficacy and hegemony of the traditional community leaders which hitherto serves as a mechanism of social control in the rural communities. The issue of integration and adaptation to new norms and values by the immigrants’ nomads and the spreading of violent cultural traits and the supply of dangerous weapons to the indigenous nomads posed serious threat to these rural communities.

The significant increased in reprisal killings, constant raiding of villages/hamlets by cattle rustlers and harassment of women and girls, rape and kidnapping of cattle owners and the failure of government to address the problem, has forced many herdsmen who could not bear the uncertainty and constant threat to their livelihood to migrate out of these towns.

The increase in human migration especially herdsmen along with their livestock out of Birnin gwari Local Government, has translated into huge economic lost as the mainstay of the economy of the region is largely agricultural activities which livestock formed the significant part.


In recent years, rural communities in north-western Nigeria, especially in Kaduna state has been devastated by banditry, proliferation of fire arms, kidnapping, and indiscriminate killing which has direct bearing with the problem of cattle rustling.

The problem in Birnin gwari local government area especially in the four towns which includes; Shittu, Tudun jega, Bagom, and Goron dutse have reached an alarming proportion. The significant losses of life, livestock, and properties of innocent herdsmen and farmers have adversely affected the social fibre and economic base of the town.

Some negative implication that may result from incessant incidents of rural banditry relate to a society’s social capital in terms of family and communal cohesion, gender relations, and customary institutions that condition social control and may undermine the prospects for human development. Incidents of armed banditry have in some instances been accompanied by sexual violence against women and young girls, the consequences of which cannot be overlooked.

The terror generated by armed banditry is a critical factor that can induce displacement and delay later return and resettlement. Such displacement may be internal or cross-border. Forced displacement has been observed to destroy families and communities, disrupt normal economic activities and undermine human development. It is notable also that contrary to traditional norms. Women and children are not spared in contemporary bandits operations. They seem to even bear most of the brunt in form of rape, torture and murder. (Muggah and Batchelor 2002:26).

Also during incidents of armed violence such as armed banditry, the direct consequences for women victims of sexual violence are manifold: psychological trauma, pregnancy, and the spread of HIV. In addition, however, sexual violence has specific poverty implications. Stigmatization as prostitutes, loss of spouses and prohibition of future marriage, and rejection by family and community members is common. Such treatment, in turn, limits women’s access to livelihood assets such as land and labour and cuts them off from sharing in social capital. (Centre for International Cooperation Security (2005:21).

The resultant effects of this dastardly acts, and raiding of herdsmen and farmers by different gangs of bandits and indiscriminate killing of innocent villagers by the rustlers, has raised question as regards to what might be wrong with security agency’s efficacy of dealing with crimes of this magnitude. This trend if left unchecked could lead to entire annihilation of the town which hitherto, has been full of pastoral activities which by and large contributed to the flourishing of the rural economy.

Thus, it is imperative therefore, to examine some of these effects of cattle rustling on the economy of the towns which is largely depended on agricultural activities. During both the rainy and dry seasons, the activities of cattle rustlers have prevented people of the towns from farming, trading, and rearing of their domestic animals.

The absence of economic activities and the fear of indiscriminate killing in these towns   have caused huge migration out of these towns which significantly, undermined the social fibre of the affected community. As cultural activities and other rituals like, naming, and marriage ceremonies and other traditional ceremonies are no longer feasible due to the immense threat posed by the rustlers.

The study is aims at studying the socio-economic repercussion of cattle rustling in Birnin gwari local government of Kaduna state Nigeria


The aim of this study was to assess the state security challenges in northern Nigeria. The study used cattle rustling in Birnin Gwari local government area of Kaduna state as a case study.

The objectives of the research are as follows;

  1. Identify the impact of cattle rustling on the socio-economic conditions of the people of Birnin gwari local government area of Kaduna State, Nigeria,
  2. Identify the factors responsible for the upsurge of cattle rustling in recent years in Birnin gwari.


  1. What is the effect of cattle rustling on the socio-economic conditions of the people of Birnin gwari local government area of Kaduna State, Nigeria?
  2. What are the factors responsible for the upsurge of cattle rustling in recent years in Birnin gwarri?


H01: Cattle rustling has had adverse effects on the socio economic conditions of people in kaduna state.

H02: There are no identifiable factors responsible for cattle rustling in kaduna state.


The significance of this study are as follows;

  1. Contribute to knowledge by providing additional literature to the scanty existing ones on the subject matter of cattle rustling and other related issues.
  2. Highlight the socio-economic effects of the menace of cattle rustling to the towns affected and other states in Nigeria in general.
  • Suggest policies on ways and means to effectively addressing the problem of cattle rustling in the affected areas of Birnin gwari and other states in Nigeria facing similar problems.


This research work is limited to the study of the negative impact of cattle rustling in Birnin gwari local government area of Kaduna state, Nigeria. Particular attention would be given to four towns under Birnin gwari which includes, Shittu, Bagom, Tudun jega, and Goron dutse.


  1. Cattle – large domesticated mammals kept for the production of milk, meat, and hides. Cows and oxen are commonly types of cattle. They are usually the major source of economic wealth among the rural dwellers both the small scale farmers and full time herdsmen kept cattle for various economic reasons.


  1. Rustling – stealing of grazing cattle or more generally refers to the acts of stealing livestock by means of violence using mostly dangerous weapons before, during or immediately after the commission of the offence.


  1. Rustler – a person‘s’ involved in the act of cattle or livestock theft who usually operate in groups and operate mainly in rural area. They also engaged in other violent crime in rural areas like armed robbery, arson, indiscriminate killing of livestock owners, rape and abduction of young girls and married women.


  1. Vigilante – is a civilian organisation acting in a law enforcement capacity without legal authority especially in remote areas where there is inadequate or complete absence of law enforcement personnel? The rural vigilantes a largely man who lacks training and techniques of interrogation of suspected persons which by and large create antagonistic relationship with relatives of the suspected persons in their custody.


  1. Herdsmen – a person who watches over a herd of cows, sheep etc. They are usually nomads’ people who move with their animal from one place to another looking for pasture for their livestock to graze.


  1. Fulani – a member of an ethnically diverse nomadic people living in western and central Africa. A significant number of them are nomadic in nature, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry grass lands of their environment, keeping isolate from the local farming communities making them the world’s largest postural nomadic group.


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