ABUJA – VIOLENT conflicts between herders and farmers in
Nigeria have left at least 2 500 people dead.
The lax response by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is blamed
for the bloodshed.
The clashes between the nomadic livestock rearers from the northern side
of the country and agrarian communities in the central and southern zones
are becoming as potentially dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency in the
northeast where 20 000 civilians have been killed in eight years.
Problems relating to land and water use, obstruction of traditional
migration routes, livestock theft and crop damage trigger the disputes
between herders and farmers.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) said the deaths were recorded for
2016. It denounced the response to the
crisis at both the federal and state levels as poor.
The organisation said Buhari’s administration and affected state
governments need to work together, take immediate steps to shore up
security for herders and farmers, strengthen conflict-resolution
mechanisms and reforming livestock management practices.
Buhari recently denounced the violence but ICG urged governments to
address negative environmental trends and curb cross-border movements of
cattle rustlers and armed herders.
“Aside from the recent push against Boko Haram and military operations
against cattle rustling, they have done little else to address rural
insecurity in the north.”
The think-tank said security and law enforcement agencies failed to
establish early-warning nor rapid response mechanisms.
“They have not arrested and prosecuted perpetrators of violence or offered
redress to victims.”
ICG stated governments’ responses overall had been short-sighted.
The organisation said governments failed to encourage dialogue. As a
result, both herders and farmers are taking matters into their own hands.
ICG said authorities need to take remedial action urgently.
“Failure to respond, decisively and effectively, will allow Nigeria to
continue sliding into increasingly deadly conflict.”
– CAJ News