There was confusion on Thursday at the Headquarters of the Special Military Taskforce, codenamed ‘Operation Safe Haven’ in Jos, Plateau State, over the alleged theft of over 200 cows.
The Punch reports that the Commander of OPSH, Maj. Gen. Anthony Atolagbe, had earlier disclosed that 200 cows were missing, out of which 100 had been recovered and 20 found dead.
This is after some members of the Miyatti Allah had on Monday claimed that 350 of their cows were stolen and subsequently threatened to “violently search” for the cattle in Ganawuri, Riyom local government.
While Atolagbe alleged that some of the suspects had been arrested, the spokesman for the agency, Maj. Umar Adams, said no arrest had been made.
Adams said, “Up till now, there is no arrest; the security operatives are still on their trail and so far, they are still recovering more of the cows. They recovered about five cows and one sheep yesterday (Wednesday) while on the trail of the rustlers.”
When reminded of the statement from the OPSH Commander, he said, “I am not aware of any statement. The only statement I am aware of is the one I am telling you now and no arrest has been made.
“However, our personnel have been deployed and they are carrying out raids to ensure that they arrest the perpetrators. And in the course of the operation, they have been able to recover about five cows and one sheep. For now, there has been no arrest.”
Other sources claimed that 20 persons had been arrested for cow rustling in the state.
“Over 20 suspects have been arrested by security operatives in connection with the stealing of cows and they are currently being detained at the headquarters of OPSH in Jos. As soon as investigations are concluded, they will be handed over to the appropriate agencies for prosecution,” said a source.
However, a statement issued on behalf of the Commander of OPSH by Brig.-Gen. Bello reads:
“Our attention has been drawn to some newspaper articles reporting palpable tension in Plateau State. The reports indicate that the state had been thrown into a state of fear, following alleged threats issued by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in the state over an alleged attack on their kinsmen and the rustling of 350 cows belonging to their people.
“Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) wishes to state authoritatively that the rumor is unfounded, misplaced and out of reality and should therefore be disregarded.
“Please note that only 200 cattle were missing out of which a hundred were recovered while 20 were found dead. Efforts are ongoing to find the remaining ones with the assistance of the locals in the area.
“However, some suspects were arrested and investigations are ongoing.
“Furthermore, the command has made efforts at meeting with all the parties involved and strongly advised them to remain peaceful and work closely with security agencies to unravel these criminals once and for all , rather taking laws into their hands.”
“We therefore advise members of the public to go about their normal business as the situation is under control.”