Cows, Bandits, and Violent Conflicts: Understanding Cattle Rustling in Northern Nigeria

Cattle rustlings have become a major crime in Nigeria recently, with the northern region being the hardest hit. In the past few years, rustling activities have resulted in the theft of a huge number of cows, deaths of people and destruction of property. Daily reports across the northern region have confirmed that cattle rustlings have significantly contributed to the increasing security challenges facing the Nigerian state and seem to have become big business involving the herders, big-time syndicates, and heavily armed bandits. However, despite the growing level of cattle rustling and its consequences for society, the situation has yet to receive adequate scholarly interrogation. This paper investigates the causes and consequences of, and state responses to cattle rustling in Nigeria.

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