Only Forest Guards Can Curtail Activities of Cattle Rustlers – Professor Garba

ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna


President, Veterinarian Council of Nigeria (VCN), Professor Garba Hamidu at the weekend advocated for the re-establishment and empowerment of Forest Guards to curtail the activities of cattle rustlers and herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria.

The Veterinary Don, said it was not proper for the government to assign the responsibility of watching over the forest to Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and Nigerian Police which have little or no knowledge of what happens in the forests.

Professor Garba, gave the advise in Kaduna during the 3rd Annual Conference of Nigerian Muslim Veterinarian, adding that “Creating and empowering Forest Guards is the best way to protect the forest and curbing catle rustling in Nigeria.”

“The cattle rustled are taking into the forest and the forest guards known the nooks and crannies of the forest. So if there is a reported case of cattle theft or rustling in the forest, all they need to do is to identify which forest and the requisite forest guard will zoom into action and they will be identified.

“What is happening with the cattle rustlers is that they know the nooks and crannies of the forest more than the people that they have stolen their cattle from, and they are well armed. You find out that nobody go near them in the forest.

“The Forest Guards are suppose to be armed, well trained and so they would be able to really protect. Remember that criminality is incubated into the forest and taken into the towns and so if they can represent the security agencies within the forest then the issue of cattle rustling will be brought to the barest minimum.” He noted.

Professor Garba Hamidu who is also the Provost of the Federal College of Animal Health Laboratory Technology (NVRI), Vom, Plateau State, also called on government to come up with laws that can protect the rights of Animals in the country.

”We do not have any Welfare Act, so there is no standard law that drives towards protecting the rights of these animals. We must formulate laws to protect them.

“The police, civil defence must have thorough understanding of what their role is in these laws, if they do that we are ok.

“State is supposed to have cattle market and that is the only place that you are supposed to load animals and these animals when they are loaded, there is a map that should show the route through which you travel with them as captured in the Animal Disease Act, there is what we call control post and check point to check ownership of the animals, disease and how you carry the animals and to generate little revenue for the country in term of service.” Hamidu explained.

He charged the over 7000 Veterinarians in the country to be abreast with the rules and regulations of the profession because “the veterinarian by our law that is the Animal Disease Control Act, are the only people that are qualified to vaccinate, and mandated to diagnose disease and the only person mandated to treat even though that function can be designated to an officer.”

Also speaking, National Ameer of the Nigerian Muslim Veterinarian, Abdulrauf Obalowu, explains that at the end of the conference, the association we will draw up a communiqué that will look at the gaps that have been created as far as the security of the country is concern so as to be able to advise the governments adequately on some of the policies that they want to develop.

The association is aimed at promoting unity professionalism among its members.

“We are also poised at rendering assistance to farmers and herdsmen in the country, towards ensuring food security for all Nigerians,” he said.

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