Over 1,000 cattle have been arrested by Troops of the Operations Safe Haven (OPSH), for grazing on farmlands in Mangu Local Government Area of the Plateau state.
Captain James Oya, the Media Officer of the OPSH, in a statement on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, said troops of the Special Task Force intercepted the cows, which also included a large number of sheep, while they were grazing on farmlands belonging to local residents in Dumunan village, Bwai district of Mangu Council.
Bwai district has been recently under frequent attacks with a number of farmers reportedly killed, houses burnt and many locals sacked.
The statement noted that preliminary investigations conducted by the military revealed that the cows and sheep originated from Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi local governments, respectively. They are currently in OPSH custody for necessary action.
The statement says General Officer Commanding (GCO) 3 Division and Commander Operation Safe Haven, Major General AE Abubakar, has promised to tackle the root cause of the crisis and prevent further attacks in the Mangu area.
Meanwhile, Senator Diket Plang, representing Plateau Central in Plateau State, has appealed to the military to expand its surveillance in Mangu Local Government Area to farming areas in order to curb a new trend of crime where farms are being destroyed by bandits.
In a signed statement, Senator Plang strongly condemned the destruction of farms by bandits and expressed concern about the negative impact it would have on the predominantly farming community, which is already traumatised and facing hardships.
He emphasised that the destruction of farmlands would not only affect the local government but also the entire state and Nigeria as a whole, considering the strategic position of the council in terms of food production.
Senator Plang further stated that the destruction of farmlands could trigger reprisal attacks, undermining the peace initiatives undertaken by stakeholders and the government, while also hindering the progress made by the military in addressing the dire situation in the local government area.
“In light of the current situation, the bandits have changed their malicious modus operandi from attacking human lives to destroying the means of livelihood for the people, namely farming. Recently, farms were destroyed in various parts of the local government,” he said.
"This could cripple the economy and further frustrate the efforts of farmers towards achieving food security. It may also lead to retaliatory attacks, jeopardising the ongoing military efforts to address the spate of killings in the affected areas.
"Therefore, there is an urgent need for security personnel on the ground to also extend their surveillance to the farming areas and protect the crops that have been nurtured and are ready for harvest in the coming months,” he stated.