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ENHANCING CAPACITY OF HERDERS TO REPORT CATTLE RUSTLING USING SOCIAL MEDIA

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As part of its contribution to the efforts to address the problem of cattle rustling which has been bedeviling many states in Northern Nigeria, the Centre for information Technology and Development (CITAD) to its training programmes on how to use social media to report cattle rustling to Katsina for Fulani Headers in the State. The workshop held on 23nd August 2015 at the Muhammad Sunusi II ICT Centre, Alqalam University, Katsina. Participants numbering 21 were drawn from different Local Government of the state. The objective of the training was to train herder on the use of social media for sending out alerts on rustling attempts communities. He added that this was part of a large project on promoting peace that CITAD was implementing with support from MacArthur Foundation and thanked the Miyati Allah Katsina State for partnering with CITAD in making the training a reality.

The training stared with a welcome address by Mal Huzaifa Yakub Musa, CITAD Online Apps Officer who expressed appreciation for the participants who inspite of the short notice honored the invitation to be here for the workshop. He said their presence was an indication of the level of scale of importance that they have given to the problem of cattle rustling. Huzaifa explained that in the last two month, CITAD had carried out similar training programmes for herders in Kaduna, Zamfara and Bauchi States and that Katsina was the fourth in the series. He said apart from training the participants on using social media to report rustling, the programme also serves as an opportunity to discuss how to develop collective approach to the problem and to advance advocacy in getting governments and other stakeholders to tackle the problem.

The technical session then stated with a presentation on the Background Document which explained the CITAD CATRIS project (Cattle Rustling Information system) whose aim is to both document, and assist in the process in rescue of rustled cattle through the use of information technology. The presentation explained the various parts of the system and how individuals could fit into trotting providing information, and volunteering to be part of the Network of Volunteers Against cattle rustlingwhose main task is the rescue of stolen cattle and the alert system to security and law enforcement agencies to apprehend cattle rustlers whenever they made attempt on the cattle of herders.

The training started with a presentation on WhatsApp by Shehu Usman Salihu, Programmes Assistant (Technical) who explained what the WhatsApp was and how it can be used to send out alerts. He also explained how people could install the Apps in their hands as well as discussed the types of handsets that could support the Apps. The next session was a practical one on the use of the WhatsApp which started by setting up accounts for the participants who were then taken on how to compose and send messages. He explained that in the platform being developed by CITAD there is provision for people to send messages not just in words by also as codes and graphics. This way, people who were not literate could be able to report when their cattle were stolen. He added that already CITAD was working on a library of codes and symbols for this purpose and that when this finalized it would be made available to the herders, especially through a follow up training like this one.

The third session as interactive one facilitated by Kamilu Isa Ahmed, Programmes Assistant (Peace) which was demonstrated of the online platform and how it works. He took the participants through the process of reporting and how the public could look at the site to see he location with coordinates of where incidence of cattle rustling took place as reported and the features of the surrounding place including coordinates so that that rescuers could have clear understating of the terrain and how to reach the place. He explained that a WhasApp group for this was set up during the training at Zamfara which was MOFTAL FULBE and encouraged the participants to tag up this group than setting up a new one as this way the number of people in the group could expand. Participants asked number questions,seeking clarification or further explanation which the facilitator helped to clarify.

The final session was group that sought the participants to come up with suggestions on what government can stakeholders could do to address cattle rustling in the country. At the end of the session, the following suggestions were made:

  1. That government needs to react more quickly to the plight of herders when it has been doing now
  2. That the police has proved incapable of addressing of the problem due a number of factors including their insufficient number, inadequate facilities and corruption in the police
  3. That there is need to provide more adequate security cover for Fulani settlements which are under attack by cattle rustlers
  4. That there is need to set up a Commission to address issues of cattle rustling
  5. That the National Human Rights Commission should be briefed about the situation and their assistance be sought
  6. That state governments should take steps to recovered grazing fields and paths that have been encroached by farmers which is fueling conflicts that cattle rustlers are exploiting
  7. That vigilante groups should be taken out of the efforts because they have tended to be part of the problem than the solution

The last session was the vote of thanks which was offered by Malama Hansatu and Malam Bello well the Chairman Miyati Allah Katsina State, Alhaji Hassan Kore offered the closing prayer.

About Adamu Umar

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