Violent conflicts between nomadic herders from northern Nigeria and sedentary agrarian communities in the central and southern zones have escalated with the death toll estimated at 2 500, says the International Crisis Group (ICG).
According to the ICG’S latest reported titled Herders against farmers: Nigeria’s expanding deadly conflict, pressure for access to land and water has led to a spiral of tit-for-tat attacks. Obstruction of traditional migration routes, livestock theft and crop damage contribute to triggering the clashes.
“The spread of conflict into southern states is aggravating already fragile relations among the country’s major regional, ethnic and religious groups. The south’s majority Christian communities resent the influx of predominantly Muslim herders,” read part of the report.
As these conflicts increase in frequency, intensity and geographical scope, so does their humanitarian and economic toll. The increasing availability of illicit firearms, both locally-produced and smuggled in from outside, worsens the bloodshed.
According to the ICG, thousands have been killed over the past 5 years, reaching an annual average of more than 2 000 from 2011 to 2016, exceeding the toll from the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Tens of thousands have been forcibly displaced, with properties, crops and livestock worth billions of naira destroyed, at great cost to local and state economies.”
To stem the conflict, the ICG recommended the strengthening of security arrangements for herders and farming communities in the affected areas.
“This will require that governments and security agencies sustain campaigns against cattle rustling and rural banditry, improve early-warning systems, maintain operational readiness of rural-based police and other security units, and encourage communication and collaboration with local authorities.”
Further, it called for the establishment of strong conflict mediation and peace-building mechanisms at state and local government levels.
It also recommended establishing grazing reserves and improving livestock production and management to minimise the conflict between herders and farmers.
Read the full report here: Herders against farmers: Nigeria’s expanding deadly conflict