Farmers-Herders Conflict: Advocacy group blames govt inaction for violence

By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau 

An advocacy group has cried out that emerging narratives from their studies have shown the grave consequences of the Nigerian government’s inaction and its failure to take appreciate steps to manage continuing grievances from spinning into violence. 

It also disclosed that between 2017 and May 2020, no fewer than 654 attacks were carried out and as a result of it, over 2, 539 people lost their lives while 253 persons were kidnapped in various states of Nigeria. 

These are part of the findings in the recent research work carried out by an advocacy group, Zinariya Consults Ltd in partnership with Open Society Initiative for and Global Rights Partners for Justice.

Speaking Thursday  in Abuja at the presentation of the  Findings and Recommendations of Zinariya Consults, Dr. Joseph Ochogwu whose organisation  conducted the research titled: ‘Trends and Dynamics of Conflicts between Farmers and Pastoralists in Nigeria’s Benue Valley’, painted grim pictures of the  research findings at the event held at Treasure Suites/Conference, Maitama, Abuja.  

According to him: “The research identifies new trends and the changing nature of farmers and pastoralists conflict in three key states resulting from changes in the management of cattle ownership and distrust due to differences in ethno-religious and cultural identities and values as significant factors responsible for the rise in the farmers-herders conflict”.

Dr. Ochogwu also revealed that, ” the research examined the waves of violence expressed in Nigeria’s Benue Valley and broadly categorised as farmers-herders conflict”, explaining that ” the research papers are drawn from the trends and dynamics of clashes between farmers and pastoralists, emphasising three key states of Benue, Plateau  and Taraba”.

The Researcher said the conflict is centered in Nigeria’s Benue Valley comprising of Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, Adamawa and part of Kaduna states even as he argued that the conflict is over land and water which are very important to farmers and pastoralists in Nigeria.

According to the findings contained in the 16-page document made available to journalists, the surge of attacks and counter-attacks have exacted heavy humanitarian and economic tolls, with severe security and political consequences. 

The findings also revealed that estimated 300,000 people were displaced across the states mentioned above just as 176,000 persons were displaced in Benue alone while 100,000 each were displaced in Plateau and Nasarawa respectively with over 19,000 people displaced in Taraba. 

Meanwhile, Ndubuisi Nwokolo, PhD, Co- Moderator at the dissemination meeting on the Research Findings alleged that those fuelling the conflicts in Nigeria are those in the upper echelons of the society, adding that “they are top government officials and their civilian collaborators”.

Nwokolo, the Chief Executive of Nextier SPD, a security, peace and development advocacy group also blamed governments at all tiers for the conflicts, pointing out that, “if, for example, Local Government Authorities (LGAs) who are constitutionally responsible for building market stalls are able to build small ranches in their domains for pastoralists, they will realize huge revenues and curtail the farmers-herders clash”.

He therefore argued that the problems are both political and economics, arguing that they can only be solved using bottom up approach. He advocated for prompt response by the government. 

Said he: “It hurts to note that the response of the Nigerian government to these conflicts could best be described as not satisfactory. It takes government so much time to respond to the incessant clashes between herders and farmers”. 

Also, the Facilitator of the event, Mr. Adagbo Onoja commended Zinariya Consults for carrying out the research and advised that more avenues will be explored to find lasting solutions to the conflicts in Nigeria.

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