By Ade Alade, Noah Ebije
This is certainly not a good season for Vice President Namadi Sambo. He is not only battling to be relevant in a government he is second in command, the former governor of Kaduna State is equally contending with influential forces within the rank of some Northern governors angling to take his place as a running mate to President Goodluck Jonathan should the latter decide to run for another term in 2015.
Beyond the political pressures almost suffocating him in the Aso Rock presidential villa, Arc Sambo’s business empire has also come under attack about a fortnight ago when he lost over N200 million to armed night marauders.
Saturday Sun gathered that the incident, which has been kept under wraps and downplayed in government circles, has greatly unsettled the number two citizen ,who is not only unhappy that gunmen could enter his premises in Kaduna and cart away his life investments unhindered, but also that almost three weeks after, security agencies, especially the police, seem not to have any clue on how a sitting vice president would be so brazenly robbed.
It was learnt that about a fortnight ago, some armed men in military uniform invaded a commercial farm owned by the vice president along Birnin Gwari road, Kaduna State, where they allegedly loaded about 2000 imported special specie cows into trailers and disappeared till date.
A close associate of Sambo told Saturday Sun that “the monetary value of those special cows far exceed N200 million”, adding that “the incident and subsequent development look more like a deliberate attempt to strangle the VP economically because he has been a successful businessman in and out of politics.”
The source, who refused to be named because he was not authorized by the VP to speak for him on the matter, but he disclosed that “the issue, though not in the public domain because of the quiet nature of the vice president, it is generating strong suspicion and mistrust not only in the presidency but between Northern elite and the government because of some other persons that were targeted in what we regard as a calculated decimation of the economic power of northern leaders.”
In an attempt to downplay the loss, a presidential aide, who sought to be anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the matter, however, said the VP only lost about 1000 cows in the attack, saying: “Anybody saying it’s 2000 must be mischievous.”
According to the reliable source, the highly influential Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris was also attacked by the marauders who invaded the first class royal father’s commercial farm along Soba road in Zaria and carted away over 250 cows also valued at some millions of naira.
A very close aide to the monarch told Saturday Sun that “this pattern of attack leaves us with a conclusion that there is more to it than meets the eye. A situation where trailers escorted by armed men in military uniforms are driven into well secured premises and hundreds of expensive cows are driven away without any security agent accosting them on the road or any trace of where such are taken to points to a dangerous dimension which does not augur well for our economic well-being and the unity of the nation.”
“What we are experiencing now has also been visited on the paramount ruler of Tiv people, the Tor Tiv, Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, whose livestock farm has already been looted in Benue in like manner”, the source added.
Chairman of the interim management committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, was also listed as one of the recent victims of similar attacks.
Secretary-General of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Col. John Ubah told Saturday Sun that in his case, he lost over 27 cows to cattle rustlers in his farm along Keffi road, Nassarawa State.
He said: “I was a victim of cattle rustling because about 27 of my cows in my farm in Masaka area, along Keffi road of Nasarawa State were stolen not long ago, they just came one night and took them off.
“The people who go about stealing cattle, I think they are special group; you cannot call them Boko Haram because it has been happening even before Boko Haram incident started.
“This cattle rustling will surely affect the economy of the North because those ones they stole, we don’t know where they have taken them to, bringing business vacuum in the sale of cattle. I think the government is setting up a committee so that they can discuss with Miyyeti Allah Cattle Rearers Association to see how they can stem the incident of cattle theft”.
While the Commissioner of Police in Kaduna declined to respond to inquiries on what his command is doing to get the VP’s investments back or the culprits brought to face charges, Operation Yaki, the state security outfit said that it is working round the clock to ensure that cattle rustlers as well as other criminals in the state are flushed out.
Speaking with Saturday Sun in a telephone chat, the Coordinator of the security outfit, Col. Dangana Gabriel Mammam (retd) said it is the responsibility of the outfit to make sure that peace reigns by exposing all criminal activities in the state.
“If you ask me about cattle rustlers, I will tell you that I don’t know where they are because our job is to deal ruthlessly with trouble makers in the state, and under whatever guise any crime is intended to be committed, we are out to take proactive measures to prevent such cases.
“Well, there are cases of cattle rustling, but not within Kaduna metropolis, except in such areas as Birnin Gwari axis and others.
“As I speak to you, I can tell you that the Army headquarters has drafted officers and men to the Birnin Gwari area, and they are flushing out these thieves on a daily basis. I’ m telling you this because the Operation Yaki is working hand in hand with the military men.
“But I cannot comment more than this because I cannot speak for the Army, but we are on top of the situation as far as security in the state is concerned”, he stated.