CITAD in the News, Technology Against Cattle Rustling (CATRIS)

We Can Track Stolen Cattle Online — CITAD Boss

Yunusa Zakari Ya’u, is the Executive Director,
Centre for Information Technology and
Development (CITAD), a non- governmental
organisation. In this interview with PATIENCE
programs, how information communication
technology can be used to track down cattle
rustlers, rehabilitation for internally displaced
persons (IDPs) in the north-eastern part of
Nigeria, among others. Excerpts.
Can you tell us some of the programs embarked
upon by CITAD?
In the last one year, our activities focused in
four different directions, which are all
complementary to each other. One area of major
important to us is the crisis in the north eastern
part of the country. Because we considered it
very significant, we have rolled out a couple of
programs, aimed at making our own
contributions in resolving these problems.
We have four different interventions in the
region. One is to document the crisis itself in
terms of human right abuses and efforts that
ordinary people and communities are making to
secure the environment.
And one of the outcomes of that effort was a
book that we presented about three months ago.
The other intervention within that project is to
mobilize citizens to realize that peace building is
not just the responsibility of government, but that
every citizen has a role and responsibility to
The second intervention is that we realized that
crisis has relationship with the level and quality
of education in the region. If you look at the
developmental indices compared to all other
regions, north-east is the worst.
Some of the indices are: low enrolment figures,
low competition figures, low retention figures
and we taught it was important to intervene. So,
we have supports from USAID and commenced
major regional interventions in the area of
This is about galvanizing for stakeholders to
come together and dialogue and see the way out
of the decay in educational system in the
We also taught about accountability, because a
lot of resources are been put there, but there
are little to show. So, one of the things we have
done was to embark on research in all the six
states of the region in order to establish the
state of education in each of the state.
Our findings showed that in the region, we have
many schools that exist only on paper, but do
not exist in reality and I think this report will
soon be made available to the governors in each
state in the north-east.
We are also working in each of this state with a
number of civil society organizations and other
interest groups such as: Nigeria Union of
Teachers and the Teachers/Parents Association
to build structures that will demand for
accountability from government on the use of
resources that is meant for educational sector.
The third project in the region is what we called
promotion of safety and security in schools and
around internally displaced people camps, in
order to create space for the girl child to enrol
and continue her education.
You know that following insurgency, a lot of
schools were closed down especially in Bornu
State, where many of the schools are being
used as IDPs camps, but even more important
is that following the abduction of the Chibok girls,
many parents are hesitant to allow their
daughters to go back to schools.
This is because they feel that the schools are
not safe and secure, so we taught them that
there is need to get government to do something
to ensure that the schools are safe and more
We are also rebuilding the confidence of parents
and girls that schools will actually be safe and
secure for them and one of the ways you can
demonstrate that is to establish learning corners
and learning centres within the IDPs camps.
Therefore, CITAD alongside Women Right
Protection Agency and ADAPTA, which is an
association that specializes in working in the
camps, now work together to achieve our aims.
You see that we bring three different partners
with different synergies. ADAPTA knows how to
work in the camps; WRAPER is excellent in
terms of gender issue and CITAD in terms of our
connections with authorities and other
stakeholders in the region.
So, that project is about getting our girls not just
back, but also back in schools. We have been
going round different camps. Our team just
came from Chibok yesterday and we gave been
visiting camps in Bauchi, talking to the
emergency officials on the strategies in terms of
upgrading learning space for them.
The Fourth project is monitoring and countering
of dangerous hate speeches. We realized that it
denigrate other people on the basis of either
ethnicity or religion among others.
It tends to catalyze into violence and we have
seen it in various places, like Rwanda, Kenya,
Somalia and so forth.
So, we think that Nigeria cannot afford such hate
speeches inspired violence, so we have been
doing a couple of things around hate speech.
We need to sensitize especially the media and
the general public about hate speeches, because
a lot of people are not even aware of what
actually constitute hate speech. They just think
it is freedom of expression.
We have been going round organizing
sensitization programs on hate speech. We had
one here in Bauchi and we also monitor the hate
speech on internet, we have developed
mechanism and a platform for monitoring on-
line hate speech in the social media.
In what ways do you think that your intervention
will help to restore peace in the North East and
give IDPs sense of belongings?
I think bringing peace is the responsibility of
everybody and CITAD is a none state actor that
do not have weapon neither do we have the
license to fight directly, but we can mobilize
citizens to contribute in terms of being security
conscious, understanding the dynamics of peace
building , trying to live peacefully with
We have produce two major policy brief
document , the first one was the strategy that
the former Jonathan’s government was using to
prosecute the anti-terrorism act and we thought
that they were a lot of gaps.
For instance there wasn’t much involvement of
the communities because communities are
made up of people who know the terrain, who
know the environment, who know who are likely
to be members of Boko Haram.
Therefore, you need to work with them hand to
hand. We also saw gaps in terms of the
relationship between the army and the
communities, the community on one hand are
victims of Boko Haram, who attack them and the
other hand they are victims of highhandedness
of the military and other law enforcement
We issued a policy brief, outlining how we think
government should be able to address some of
these lapses. We also did a second one on IDPs
camp, we went round Yobe, Maiduguri and
Adamawa and accessed ways in which camps
were being run and we came out with a report
and policy on how we think that government
should respond to the plight of the IDPs
particularly in terms of health, accommodation,
feeding, and restoring the dignity because a lot
of them.
Victims of Boko Haram insurgency have
suffered and they have seen trauma and many
of them were running risk of mental breakdown.
For instance, we saw a girl in one of the camps,
this girl happened to witness the killing of her
parents and sibling, for all duration she has
stayed in the camp up till now the only thing that
she says is mummy, mummy, she has lost
every sense, her speech has gone away so
these are serious trauma and you need trauma
healers, people who are professionals in this
But, unfortunately we don’t have many in
Nigeria, I know that the a sister organization in
Adamawa brought some from Rwanda to train
some local people in dealing with trauma
diseases and that is just inefficient because in a
case you come and train somebody in three
days, you are not sure whether he will really
acquire everything. So, we want to keep
Government on the right track and keep citizens
on the right track.
How can ICT be use to tackle the problem of
cattle rustlers?
Just like the tracking down of education, it’s also
building the platform where people report
immediately those cattle are stolen. They can
report in various ways. They can send sms,
send watsapp, web base platforms. We have
developed the site, its call www.catrist.ort, and
this is a simple platform to get all information
and display it in its special form.
If it happens in any location, you will see the
coordinate so immediately its reported, it get
also broadcast and also the relevant agencies
can pick it. They will know the location, they will
have the picture of surrounding places including
roads, waterways, forest and that way they will
be able to know how to arrange and rescue the
We have used students from universities to do
what we call the mapping of the forests. They
have data party, we bring students from higher
institutions and provide them with tools and
they map the different forests and put them
We have also been training cattle breeders as
part of the sensitization on how to use these
tools to report particularly test messages and
watsap, we have done that training in Bauchi ,
Katsina, Kano, Kaduna and Zamfara. We
recognised that a lot of them are not literate and
so we just commission a couple of people to do
what we call library obsymbols so we give them
double of symbols that represent numbers,
location, state and so forth, if you don’t know
how to type all you need to do is to touch on
those symbols and once you touch it, the
person who is at the back end of the platform
would know that they have stolen your cattle in
a particular Location and the numbers of cattle
If you are sending a text message, we also have
your number, somebody will verify, we don’t
want to broadcast an unsubstantiated report
because you need to be sure, and for us to do
that we build network of volunteers against
cattle rustling.
These are the people who will be on ground to
be checking, to make sure that the reports sent
are genuine. We also have discussion with cattle
breeders association and some state
government on whether it is possible to use
tracking technology on the cattle. So far Kaduna
state has made pronouncement on that, but it
was hasty pronouncement because it is an
extremely costly project to do at the moment
and I am not sure that the state government will
be able do it. I thought what they need to do is to
get professionals, get telecoms service
providers and think about developing more
appropriate application.