The Kaduna State government has flagged off the construction of cattle grazing settlements and milk farm project at Damau in Kubau Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai announced this on Saturday at the ground-breaking ceremony of the proposed milk farm in Damau, saying the settlement has a capacity to accommodate 1,000 cattle farmers.
He explained that the project, being executed in collaboration with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and a Danish dairy firm, Arla, was aimed at mitigating the incessant conflicts between herders and farmers in the state.
The governor believes the project, apart from being a pragmatic and sustainable solution to security challenges that accompany nomadic livestock production, will help expand Nigeria’s capacity in the production of high-quality milk and reduce overdependence on the importation of dairy products.
He added that the goal was to develop a world-class grazing reserve that would aid in centralising the activities of herders in the community.
Governor El-Rufai also gave an assurance that the reserve would help to ensure maximum economic benefits were derived from the cows through the use of their many products to boost revenue generation.
Over the years, the incessant conflicts between herders and farmers across the country have continued to pose a major security concern to citizens and the government at various levels.
In Kaduna, the competition over scarce natural resources such as land, water, and pasture, as well as the conflicts that follow informed the government’s decision to settle the herders in one community.
A memorandum of understanding for the project was signed on September 9, 2019, with Arlan expected to provide the commercial services while the state government would provide the land to use.
This is in addition to other basic amenities such as primary healthcare facility, veterinary clinic, police post, and a market place to make life comfortable for the pastoralists.
As part of its responsibilities, the government has developed about 89km of road in Kubau LGA to help farmers transport their farm produce easily.
Surrounded by four children, Ladi Usman scoops shea nut paste from a plastic container into a metal pot on the stove in her cramped kitchen.
Squinting to keep charcoal fumes out of her eyes, she stirs it with a bamboo stick, completing the final stages of eking out the valuable shea butter oils.
For the past two decades Usman, 39, has relied on shea nuts — and the oil they contain — to provide a livelihood for herself and her family in central Nigeria.
“I cook with it, I sell it and the money I get from it I use to take these children to school, to hospital and everything else,” she told AFP.
Together with 50 other women in a cooperative in the village of Kodo she extracts value from shea nuts that grow abundantly in Nigeria.
Shea butter is consumed worldwide in chocolate, margarine and cooking oil, and cosmetic giants are using it more and more as a natural moisturiser.
The global shea butter market is expected to be worth $3.5 billion by 2028, according to Transparency Market research.
Experts say the huge number of shea trees in Nigeria could be a major source of income.
But potential profit is being lost as it exports just 10 per cent of the 350,000 tonnes of shea nuts produced annually as finished products to lucrative world markets.
Nigeria could satisfy up to 60 per cent of global demand for shea, “and with many companies in Europe and America using shea butter as an alternative to cocoa butter the potential is enormous,” said Aderemi Akpatira of the National Shea Products Association
“We as a nation just need to get ourselves organised and take that leadership place.”
For women working in the Kodo collective, extracting oil from shea nuts takes several stages and a lot of work.
First Usman and the other women collect the nuts and remove the sweet pulp either to be eaten or fermented into a wine that is consumed locally.
The nuts are then washed and boiled to prevent germination before being roasted on charcoal ovens.
Most of the nuts are sold at that point by Usman and the rest of the collective for the oils to be extracted industrially.
It makes sense to the small-scale farmers as it avoids the long hours and fuel needed for extraction, but it precludes profits they could be making.
Distance to markets is another major problem as farmers have to offload what they produce to middlemen who buy low and sell high in other towns and cities.
“The middlemen come to buy from us and go to sell in other towns. They buy from us at one dollar and sell at five dollars,” Maryam Aliyu, chairwoman of the Alheri cooperative, told AFP.
“We feel like we are just working for the middlemen.”
Farmer Mustafa Umar, 35, agreed as he surveyed the shea trees on his farm in Kodo.
“People are coming from different areas to buy shea butter, and when they buy it cheap here they will go back and double it two times and make their own profits,” he said.
“We want to invite the foreigners to come and buy the shea nuts here from us.”
‘Exploit the Potential’
Nigerian authorities are desperate to diversify the country’s oil-dependant economy and have made boosting domestic agriculture a priority.
Proponents say that tapping into the value of millions of Nigerian shea trees could provide a crucial source of income.
Since June, The Nigeria Agribusiness Register market monitor has been facilitating investment it hopes can help Nigeria gain a bigger share of the world’s shea butter market.
“It is estimated that Nigeria could make up to $2 billion from the export of processed shea kernel” if it was done domestically, said Roland Oroh, director of the organisation that tracks the agricultural sector.
But despite the ambitious targets, Nigeria remains a long way from cashing in on its shea wealth.
Industry experts say a first step to targeting foreign markets would be to improve quality at the first stages of production.
“We need to get more educated especially in the scientific aspect, some of our finished products that went to Europe were rejected because they didn’t meet import standards,” said Christopher Chuwkuemeka, 62, a shea butter processor in the Jos, central Nigeria.
“Poor practices reduce the quality of the shea butter even before it reaches us,” he noted.
The Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Jigawa, Mr Sa’idu Gagarawa, at confirmed the incident to Channels Television.
He explained that the incident was a reprisal after two Fulanis were severely beaten by farmers from Dagalma community.
Gagarawa said, ”Two Fulani men were found soak in blood after being beaten by the farmers, and that is what prompted some Fulani youths to embark on a reprisal which resulted in the unfortunate death of one person.”
“The dispute on the grazing land assigned to the Fulanis for several years has been resolved by the community leaders only for the farmers to rekindle the issue now,” he claimed.
But a relative of the victim who pleaded for anonymity said the herders attacked the indigenes whenever they were on their way to their farms.
He said, ”Before we can reach our farms we have to cross a river and usually when we are on our way back home, they stop us and cease what we are bringing back home.
The area which is the home town of both Governor Darius Ishaku and the former Minister of Defense, General (rtd) Theophilus Y. Danjuma, has been notorious for various crimes ranging from kidnappings, communal clashes, to armed robbery.
The Police Public Relations Officer, David Misal, said the suspects are yet to be identified but more patrol teams have been deployed to the area for possible arrest.
Operatives of the Sokoto Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have arrested Mallam Ibrahim Rijiya, the Chairman of Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Gummi Local Government Chapter.
Also arrested were the council storekeeper, Aminu Musa and Abdullahi Bashir.
The trio were arrested for their alleged involvement in the criminal diversion of three trailer loads of 1,800 bags of fertilizer, and a truck-load of farming herbicide belonging to rice farmers in Gummi.
Rijiya, who is also the District Head of Rijiya Gummi, Gummi LGA, Zamfara State, is also alleged to have diverted three trailers loaded with fertilizer and other supplies for their local farmers, and later sold each bag at the sum of N3,000 including other farm materials.
The EFCC had received a petition from representatives of seven different groups of rice farmers, alleging that sometimes in July 2018, the Federal Government approved and disbursed 12 trucks of fertilizer and herbicides, on loan to 83 cooperative groups in Gummi and that no member of the association fully collected all the items as approved by the government.
All efforts made by the Gummi Chapter of RIFAN to get the items back, proved abortive.
Investigation revealed that Rijiya conspired with Musa to divert and sell the three trailers of fertilizer and a truck load of herbicide to Bashir at the cost of N17.1million and shared the money among themselves.
The suspects confessed to their roles in the crime, while the three trailers of the fertilizer have been recovered from them. Efforts are in top-gear to recover the diverted herbicide.
In a statement on behalf of the President, the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu questioned the intentions of the NEF and the other so-called leaders in delving into issues with unsolicited, ill-intentioned advice.
“They have no one’s authority to make such pronouncements.
“The polarising role of the Northern Elders Forum and all those other groups dabbling into issues of security to score cheap political points has for long been a sore point in Nigeria’s body polity.
“They should not be allowed to mislead anyone, least of all the Fulani herders.
“The Buhari administration is fully devoted to finding a lasting solution to the herder-farmer clashes in different parts of Nigeria- one that would be acceptable to all the parties involved.”
The President, therefore, calls on all Nigerians to help keep the peace in the country.
Youths from various Benue communities including Zaki-Biam in Ukum local council, Otobi in Otukpo local government on Friday trooped out to protest against the planned Ruga Farm settlement in the state.
The youths claim that the planned Ruga settlement for herders violates Open Grazing Law in the state and will instigate violent clashes between farmers and herders in the state.
President, Benue Youth Congress, Orngu Angu during the protest argued that the proposed Ruga settlement is an anomaly and the youths in Benue State will not allow it.
“We are out marching on Benue streets this morning to protest the said plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish Ruga settlement in Benue State.
“Benue State has recorded a lot of herdsmen crisis. When we heard the establishment of Ruga – for herdsmen to come and settle with us! We are out here this morning to say that we reject this.
“Our stand has remained on ranching. Benue State has a bill that says all herdsmen should ranch their cattle, anything short of that is an anomaly, and we Benue youths reject this,” Angu said.
In Otobi community where the proposed Ruga project signage has been erected, the community leaders and the youths have sent a protest letter to the state government. The letter was received by the Otukpo local government chairman, Mr George Alli.
Alli while receiving the letter said the message is well received and will be sent to the state government.
He also stated that it is the duty of the state government to give land out to people coming to settle in their state and claimed that the Ruga project signage was erected without approval from the state government.
“All lands belong to the state government, it is only the state government that has the right to give land to whoever it pleases. The locals are have trusted the state government with the lands.
“We maintain that Ruga settlement is a law against open grazing in Benue State. If anybody wants to ranch, they should go to the state government. The state government will show them where they should go for ranching. They cannot come and point where they want to ranch,” Alli said.
A community leader from Otobi community in Otukpo local council, Ocheme Simon warns against any attempt to forcibly take their land for Ruga project, according to him, this will breed violence.
Leaders from Ukum local government also joined their voices with the youths during the protest. They called for an end to the proposed ruga settlement.
They lamented that Benue State have suffered heavy casualty from herdsmen related crisis and they are not ready to cede their land for Ruga settlement.
A group of campaigners against open grazing of cattle in Benue State called the Movement Against Fulani Occupation (MAFO), has faulted a report by Amnesty International’s where it allegedly put the number of deaths in Benue State between 2016 and 2018, at 726.
According to the group, almost 10,000 farmers have been killed within the time frame, as against the figure mentioned by Amnesty International.
The legal adviser for the group, Mr Terence Vembe, at a press briefing on Saturday noted that over 3,900 persons were killed in Agatu alone, while scores of persons had been killed in Gwer West, Makurdi, Guma, Logo, Buruku and Kwande Local Government Areas.
“In view of the above and many other observations, MAFO wishes to state as follows: the casualty figure of 726 for Benue State, has been strategically downplayed in order to water down the impact of the crisis of Benue communities and present a different picture to the rest of the world, especially coming from a globally known organization like Amnesty International,” he said.
Vembe, therefore, called on Amnesty International to re-evaluate its report by conducting fresh investigations in the affected Benue communities.
The group also faulted comments credited to Senator George Akume, alleging that the Benue State government is responsible for the killings.
An international human rights group, Amnesty International (Amnesty) has released a new report which suggests that negligence on the part of the Nigerian government in the herders-farmers clashes across the nation, has led to the death of over 3000 Nigerians.
Amnesty International alleged in its new report that the deaths recorded could have been avoided or mitigated if the government was not lax about investigating communal clashes and bringing perpetrators to justice.
In a recent report, both the Nigerian government and the army were accused of contributory negligence.
Below are 6 major claims made by the rights agency.
Amnesty International says it has been monitoring the clashes and documenting its violent eruption since January 2016.
According to the group, the report was put together by research which included 10 field trips, visits to 56 villages in 5 states and interviewing about 262 persons. The group says it has analysed 230 documents and 566 audio-visuals.
2. Crisis Stems From Scarcity Of Resources
According to the report by Amnesty, the turbulence began between farmers and herders due to “scarcity of and competition for resources, mainly land, water, and pasture”.
3. Over 2000 Killed In 2018 Alone
In 2018 alone, over 2000 people have died from clashes between herders and farmers, says the report by Amnesty International. It noted that within the space of 3 years, at least 3,641 had taken place owing to this communal clashes.
4. Weapons of Assault
AK-47s, G3s, locally made guns, rocket launchers, and machetes were used in the clashes says the report by Amnesty. The report also listed the makers and manufacturing dates of ammunition casings found in the field.
5. Alleged Poor Government Response
While the report acknowledges that the Buhari-led government ensured the setting up of a committee headed by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Amnesty claimed that the government did not take extra initiatives to curb the menace.
The committee headed by the VP was tasked with visiting all communities affected by the crisis to better understand how to “ameliorate the sufferings of the people in those areas and resettle them,” however, the communique claimed that beyond issuing statements and addressing the attacks after they have happened, “not enough is being done by the Federal and State governments to bring those reasonably suspected of involvement in crimes to justice”.
Amnesty further claimed that despite calls to address the “widespread cycle of impunity, only a few measures have been taken to bring perpetrators to account”.
6. Failure of Security Operatives
The report also went on to assert that a couple of the attacks would have been avoided if the security operatives played their roles accordingly. It cited cases where operatives were withdrawn just before attacks took place.
There were also claims of police collecting money from villagers and still not arresting attackers.
Issues of human rights violations were also raised against security operatives with some major jibes taken at the Nigerian army.
However, both the Nigerian army and then the government have expressed complete disapproval of the latest report by Amnesty International.
The Nigerian army accused Amnesty International of working to destabilise the country.
In a statement on Monday by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, the military alleged that the human rights group has deviated from the core values, principles and objectives of the global organisation.
He said, “This is noted through the fabrication of fictitious allegations of alleged human rights abuses against the Nigerian security forces and clandestine sponsorship of dissident groups to protest, as well as unfounded allegations against the leadership of the Nigerian military.
“They have tried over the years using Boko Haram terrorists’ conflicts, Islamic Movement in Nigeria, some activists and now herders-farmers conflicts.”
In a similar vein, the Nigerian Government also accused Amnesty International of bias in its coverage of happenings in the country, especially as it relates to security matters.
The Presidency through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, decried the role of the organisation in the war against terrorism in the North East.
Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian Government of impunity in the way it has been handling killings of innocent citizens in parts of the country.
The Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, made the allegation in her remarks at the launch of the report by the organisation on Monday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“The Nigerian government has displayed what can only be described as gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population and end the intensifying conflict between herders and farmers,” she was quoted as saying on the organisation’s website.
“The authorities’ lethargy has allowed impunity to flourish and the killings to spread to many parts of the country, inflicting greater suffering on communities who already live in constant fear of the next attack.”
She condemned the inaction of the government which she said has worsened the situation in the country.
According to the organisation, the government’s failure to investigate communal clashes and bring perpetrators to justice has fuelled “a bloody escalation” in the conflict between farmers and herders.
It said this resulted in at least 3,641 deaths in the past three years and the displacement of thousands more.
In the new report entitled, “Harvest of Death: Three Years of Bloody Clashes Between Farmers and Herders”, Amnesty International said 57 per cent of the 3,641 recorded deaths occurred in 2018.
It alleged that security forces were often positioned close to the attacks, which lasted hours and sometimes days, yet were slow to act.
The organisation also accused the security agencies of receiving prior warning of an imminent raid in some cases but did nothing to stop or prevent the killings.
“Our research shows that these attacks were well planned and coordinated, with the use of weapons like machine guns and AK-47 rifles,” Ojigho added.
“Yet, little has been done by the authorities in terms of prevention, arrests and prosecutions, even when information about the suspected perpetrators was available.”
Amnesty International explained that it started documenting clashes between farmers and herders from January 2016, stressing that researchers conducted 10 field trips to 56 villages in five states between August 2017 and September 2018.
The report, according to it, is based on 262 interviews with victims, eyewitnesses, community leaders, medical practitioners, religious leaders and government officials, including members of the security forces.
It, however, asked the Federal Government to ensure thorough, effective and impartial investigations and prosecution of any person, including members of security forces who perpetrated abuses or deliberately ignored attacks in some states.
The states listed in the report include Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara among others.
The organisation insisted that the findings of the investigations must be made public.
It also advised the government to urgently domesticate the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons into the national laws.
It recommended further that the full and effective implementation of the Convention must be ensured.
On the underlying causes of the crisis, it asked the government to ensure the farmers and herders enjoy their human rights, including rights to land, water and pasture, which were at the heart of the crisis.
“To manage and deal with communal tension, the Nigerian authorities must ensure that areas designated as grazing reserves, corridors and cattle routes are not encroached upon.
“This should include adopting a past system, where people were appointed and stationed at or close to the reserves to make it easy to monitor and manage these areas and prevent encroachment by farmers,” the report stated.
Amnesty International called for the provision of adequate relief such as protection, shelter, food, and healthcare for those displaced as a result of the crisis while the victims should be provided with adequate compensation
Among other recommendations, it said police personnel should be equipped and trained in modern policing techniques compatible with international human rights standards to effectively deal with the current challenges in the country.
It said individual commanders should be investigated and prosecuted for attacks in areas where troops under their command were stationed, especially where there was evidence that they failed to act to stop the attacks.