Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has attributed the farmers/herdsmen crisis in the country to persons outside the country.
The governor during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, said “In most cases, the crisis is precipitated by those outside Nigeria. When there is a reprisal, it is not the Fulani man within Nigeria that cause it.
“It is that culture of getting revenge which is embedded in the tradition of the Fulani man that attracts reprisals from all over the place”.
When asked if Fulani herdsmen from outside the country will benefit from the Federal Government’s RUGA initiative aimed at addressing the farmers/herders clashes, the governor replied in the affirmative.
“It has to be done through sensitisation, telling them you have to buy into the project, and you use a language that seems to convince them,” the governor said.
Speaking about his administration’s agenda, the governor lamented that the previous administration looted the state’s treasury. He, therefore stated that he is working towards improving the standards of living of the people.
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.
The Inspector-General of Police has re-echoed the need to urgently tackle the persistent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and other parts of the country.
He said in order to bring a stop to the crisis, all citizens must avoid making inflammatory statements that are capable to causing division.
“It is true that the President has mandated me to take appropriate steps to ensure the arrest and the proscription of the offenders.
“This directive is being pursued with zeal but of utmost importance is that we must engage ourselves in serious conversations, avoid inflammatory comments or playing politics with the issue.”
He made this known on Thursday in Lagos during a public presentation of his book titled Security and Justice: The Pathway for Peace and Reconciliation.
According to Mr Idris, “this is the only way the country can secure genuine reconciliation among herders and farmers, so that they can once again live in peace, harmony, love and avoid unnecessary loss of lives.”
His comments come amidst growing tensions across states in the country as a result of terrorist herdsmen killings – the most recent being that of Zamfara.
The Police in the state on Thursday, confirmed the death 18 persons in a fresh attack by gunmen in Birane village, Zurmi Local Government Area of the state.
According to The Public Relations Officer of the command, DSP Muhammad Shehu, the incident started on Tuesday when hunters from Birani village of Zurmi Local Government Area intercepted and accosted a herder in the bush with some cattle and sheep suspected to have been stolen.
The cattle rustlers, however, escaped and later returned to Isah Local Government Area of Sokoto State, mobilised bandits and attacked the hunters.
While the Police has promised to bring the perpetrators to book, the pain of the loss of loved ones is one that their family members may never forget in a long time to come.
The Benue State Police Command has confirmed the killing of two mobile policemen deployed to Ashuwa village in Logo local council, by armed Fulani herdsmen who according to them, laid an ambush for the troops on patrol between the Benue and Nasarawa border.
Giving an account of the incident to Channels Television, the Spokesman of the command, ASP Moses Yamu, noted that the corpses have been recovered and additional troops deployed to help track down the suspects.
The police also said it has arraigned 18-year-old Ibrahim Idrisa and Saidu Adamu, a 10-year-old, for the alleged murder of one Queen Wilfred in Logo, while grazing openly in violation of the open grazing prohibition law, along with some fleeing accomplices.
According to Yamu, the Chief Magistrate at the Makurdu Magistrate Court, Isaac Ajim, remanded Ibrahim at the Makurdi Medium Prison but remitted the case against Saidu Adam to a juvenile court before sending him to a Gboko remand home created for juvenile offenders.
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has called on the Federal Government to pay more attention to attacks by herdsmen in the country, especially in Benue State.
Governor Fayose, who said “what is going on in Benue State is more like an organised pogrom” insisted that “those responsible for the killings in the State must be arrested and prosecuted.”
This was contained in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka.
Governor Fayose, who declared support for the new law prohibiting open grazing in Benue State, alleged that “those opposed to the law are only doing so as part of their plot to undermine the land and people of Benue State and they must be made to face the law.”
The governor also said the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo should be allowed to function as the President so as to be able to deploy instruments of the Federal Government to tackle the herdsmen attacks, noting that “as it is today, it appears that Prof. Osinbajo does not have the full powers of the president.”
He sympathised with the government and people of Benue State, adding that the Federal Government must “stop playing the ostrich to the menace of the Fulani herdsmen.
“Like I have maintained, cattle farming is not different from fish farming, snake farming, poultry farming, snail farming, etc.
“Therefore, if fish farmers are providing their own ponds and poultry farmers building their own pens, while also buying feed for their animals, there is no reason cattle farmers should not also provide their own ranch and feed their cows without encroaching on other people’s farmlands.
“How can Nigerians embrace farming when those already in the farms are losing billions of Naira worth of crops to destruction of their farmlands by the Fulani herdsmen and the Federal Government is not doing anything about it.”
He described the Buhari-led government’s continuous silence on the alleged killing of harmless Nigerians by Fulani herdsmen as unacceptable.
“In May 2016, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria boldly told Nigerians that herdsmen killed over 1,000 Agatu people of Benue State then because over 800 of their cows were killed by Tiv youths. The man who openly made that comment was never questioned by the security agent.
“The same Miyetti Allah is now against the Anti-Open Grazing Law in Benue State, vowing to mobilize its members to resist the law and claiming that pastoralists like other citizens of the country have the right to move freely and to reside in any part of the country.
“Does pastoralists have rights to destroy other people’s farmlands, invade homes and rape people’s wives and daughters? Shouldn’t people who are into cattle farming be able to provide feeds for their animals?” He questioned.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Shuaibu Gambo has disclosed that dialogue is the solution to the frequent clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen.
Gambo who is in charge of the north central region said that the issue of conflict between Fulanis and farmers “Is receiving attention at the highest level,” adding that very soon a solution would be found to it.
He urged the people, to be sincere in their discussions hence, he was in the state sequel to the directive of the Inspector General of Police IGP, Ibrahim Idris who called for the cooperation of the public in finding solutions to the present security challenges facing the nation.
He stated that a detachment of Marine Police would be sent to Mokwa and Katcha towns in Niger State where conflicts between Fulanis and herdsmen had been very pronounced.
However, it has been claimed that the Niger State Government was alerted of an imminent crisis in the Epogi village in Mokwa Local Government Area of the state where not less than 27 people including the Chief Imam of the village were killed on Saturday morning.
The National Vice President of the Mayetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Hussaini Yusuf, levelled the allegation at the Police stakeholders meeting with DIG Shuaibu Gambo.
Hussaini Yusuf said, “When 100 cows belonging to the Fulani herders in the community were killed and one man was also killed, I personally reported the case to the Special Adviser on security to the State Governor, General Imam Ndagulu Rtd, that: “Government should do something about this situation urgently because there will be trouble.
“I also reported to the Etsu Nupe who is the Head of the traditional rulers in the Emirate, the Etsu Nupe called a meeting of the villagers and the herders but the villagers refused to attend the meeting.”
Yusuf further said that the solution to the frequent clash between Fulani and villagers was for the government to apprehend the culprit and persecute them according to the law of the land.
He also said that there was the need for government to educate farmers that they should not block cattle route, adding that government should also create grazing reserves and that grazing during the dry season should be declared Illegal.
However, the Special Adviser on Security, General Imam Ndagulu denied the allegation saying: “There is no link between the killing of 100 cows and the recent incident, the government is not aware of the claim, not even the Police was aware, the event has no bearing.
“Can they show anyone where 100 cows were killed that will result in this type of killing?”
General Ndagulu said, what the government was aware of was about three months ago there was a crisis between the villagers and the Fulanis during which a villager was killed and a Fulani man’s hand was cut off.
“The Police is aware of this case and they have been investigating it”
The Cross River State Police Command, has confirmed the death of Mr Etim Okon Akpan following a clash between Fulani Herdsmen and members of Obio-Usere community in Odukpani LGA of the State.
Confirming the unfortunate incident to newsmen at the State Command Headquarters in Calabar, the Cross River state capital, the Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, said though normalcy has returned to the community, the police is doing all it can to bring to book the perpetrator of the killing.
CP Inuwa noted that, the death of the aged man followed an attack by the community on one of the cows belonging to the herdsmen which led to the reprisal attack where a life was lost.
He frowned at the action of the Herdsmen and reiterated the fact that, no one has the right to take laws into their hands by killing a fellow human being.
After a pattern of killings allegedly perpetrated by Fulani Herdsmen in Abraka Community, Ethiope Esat Local Government Area of Delta, it leaves the community worried and afraid to access their farms
According to the community members, they have lived with Fulani Herdsmen who have depended on them as host communities for the provision of basic needs such as grains, shelter and indeed, husks from the harvest.
But the sudden turn of events where Herdsmen have abandoned this long mutually-beneficial relationship, by taking up arms against the community calls for serious concern as some of them have been made fatherless, motherless and even orphans.
They are appealing to the government and security agencies to investigate the activities of the herdsmen and bring them to justice.
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has challenged the Federal Government to show more commitment and speak out against violent herdsmen attacks across the country, with particular reference to Benue and Southern Kaduna.
Ortom made the call when he led the State Security Council to the Herdsmen killing fields in Logo and Buruku local council, including the Fadama III dry season farming land on the bank of River Benue.
While Community leaders from Buruku Local Council and the Fulani Herdsmen are locked in battle of words and counter allegation, the Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, has ordered his men to shoot down any body bearing arms illegally in the trouble area.
The Governor also met with the displaced nursing mothers, children and the elderly, he asked the security agencies to escort Fulani Herdsmen out of the troubled Buruku Local Government Area.