Herder–farmer conflicts in Nigeria

Cattle file through still green savanna in Bosso on their way to Lagos, in 1960, by Dr Mary Gillham

Herder–farmer conflicts in Nigeria have mainly involved disputes over land resources between mostly Muslim Fulani herders and mostly Christian non-Fulani farmers across Nigeria and have been especially prominent in the Middle Belt (North Central) since the return of democracy in 1999. More recently, it has deteriorated into attacks on farmers by Fulani herdsmen and also vice versa.

Attacks have also taken place in the northwest Nigeria against farmers who are mainly Hausa. While the conflict has underlying economic and environmental reasons, it has also acquired religious and ethnic dimensions. Thousands of people have died since these attacks began. Sedentary farming rural communities are often target of attacks because of their vulnerability. There are fears that this conflict will spread to other West African countries but this has often been downplayed by governments in the region. Attacks on herders have also led them to retaliating by attacking other communities.[1][2][3][4]

Background

Herder–farmer conflicts in Nigeria have deep roots and date back to pre-colonial times (before the 1900s). However, these conflicts have became far more severe in recent decades due to population pressures, climate change, and various other factors. During the British colonial era, herders and farmers would agree on a system called burti, in which specific migration routes were set up for herders, with mutual agreement from the farmers, herders, and local authorities. However, the burti system collapsed around the 1970s when farmers increasingly claimed ownership of lands along cattle migration paths, increasingly leading to conflicts.[5]

Before, herders frequently exchanged milk for cereal grains with farming communities. However, in recent decades, milk is no longer being widely bartered as packaged beverages became more popular in towns.[5]

Modern medicines have also made it possible for herders to move their livestock further south into the "tsetse fly zone" in the south, whereas before, herders could not keep their cattle on a large scale due to tropical diseases in humid climate zones. Starting from the Britiah colonial administration implemented, tsetse control programs have reduced the threat of diseases such as trypanosomiasis. Today, herders also have easy access to drugs for trypanosomiasis and dermatophilosis in order to keep their livestock alive. In addition, over the past several decades, herders have cross-bred trypanosome-intolerant zebu cattle with trypanosome-tolerant humpless breeds, thereby increasing the cattle's tolerance of tropical diseases. All of these factors have enabled the widespread migration of Fulani herders into the southernmost areas of Nigeria, where they could easily sell their livestock for higher prices due to strong demand for beef and other meat products in Nigeria's populous southern towns and cities. However, in the south, they would encounter sedentary communities that have not historically had any experience with peacefully negotiating and co-existing with nomadic herders. Increasing ease of access to armed weapons and religious polarisation among both Christians and Muslims have added to the potential for violence.[5]

Since the Fourth Nigerian Republic’s founding in 1999, farmer-herder violence has killed more than 19,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.[6][7] It followed a trend in the increase of farmer-herder conflicts throughout much of the western Sahel, due to an expansion of agriculturist population and cultivated land at the expense of pasturelands; deteriorating environmental conditions, desertification and soil degradation;[8] population growth;[2] breakdown in traditional conflict resolution mechanisms of land and water disputes; and proliferation of small arms and crime in rural areas.[9] Insecurity and violence have led many populations to create self-defence forces and ethnic and tribal militias, which have engaged in further violence. The majority of farmer-herder clashes have occurred between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian farmers, exacerbating ethnoreligious hostilities.[10]

Ethnic groups

There are various pastoralist tribes in northern Nigeria that include not only Fulani people, but also Kanuri, Kanembu, Arab, and other groups. Blench (2010) lists the following pastoralist tribes in northern Nigeria.[5]

Tribe Ethnic group Location Primary livestock
Baggara Arab south of Geidam cattle
Shuwa Arab eastern Borno/Cameroon cattle
Uled Suliman Arab Komadugu Yobe valley camels
Anagamba Fulɓe north-eastern Borno cattle
Bokolooji Fulɓe northern Borno cattle
Maare Fulɓe south-eastern Borno cattle
Sankara Fulɓe north-western Borno cattle
Uda'en Fulɓe north-eastern Nigeria uda sheep
Woɗaaɓe Fulɓe north-eastern Nigeria cattle
Badawai Kanuri central Borno cattle
Jetko Kanuri north of Geidam/Niger camels
Kanuri Kanuri Borno cattle
Koyam Kanuri south-central Borno cattle
Manga Kanuri north-west Borno cattle/camels
Mober Kanuri north-eastern Borno/Niger cattle
Kuburi Kanembu extreme north-east Borno/Niger cattle
Sugurti Kanembu Lake Chad shore cattle
Teda (Tubu) Teda (Tubu) northern Borno/Niger camels
Tuareg Tuareg north of Sokoto/Niger camels
Yedina (Buduma) Yedina (Buduma) Lake Chad shore cattle

Fulani herdsmen are represented by advocacy groups such as Miyetti Allah.[11]

Farmers belong to diverse ethnic groups, primarily Hausa people and the diverse ethnic groups of the Middle Belt. In more recent years, this has also expanded to include southern Nigerian ethnic groups such as the Yoruba, Igbo, and others.[5] Farmers belonging to various minority ethnic groups in the Middle Belt are represented by partisan advocacy groups such as CONAECDA.[12][13][14]

Regional conflicts in Jos and Kaduna

The farmer/herder conflicts have been taking place in regions which have been unstable since the 2000s. Urban conflicts in Jos and Kaduna have been particularly violent and, despite violent clashes with the authorities, their causes have never been addressed politically. Conflicts might not have been addressed adequately because traditional authorities have not been fulfilling their role in colonial-era settlements.[15]

Causes of the conflict

Land conflicts

Conflicts between farmers and herders can be understood as a problem of access to land. The beginning of the 21st century witnessed an expansion of the agriculturist population and its cultivated land at the expense of pasturelands in the Middle Belt. In an already politically unstable region, it has never always been possible to ascertain a legal title to land for every farmer. As a result, transhumance routes of herders were no longer available, especially in a context of global warming.[16]

Climatic crisis

Deteriorating environmental conditions, desertification and soil degradation[8][17][18] have led Fulani herdsmen from Northern Nigeria to change their transhumance routes. Access to pastureland and watering points in the Middle Belt became essential for herdsmen travelling from the North of the country. It is often assumed that climate change is the driver of the conflict but recent study suggest that climate change does not automatically cause the conflict, but it has however changed the herders' migration pattern.[19] Regions vulnerable to climate change (Northern Regions) experience less farmer-herder conflict and less intense farmer-herder fighting.[19] It is argued that identity differentials between farming and herding groups need to be considered in the explanation of the mechanism of the climate change-farmer-herder conflict nexus.[19]

Responses

The Nigerian government has been unwilling to address the causes of the crisis.[20] Fighting Boko Haram in the North-East and facing rising levels of violence in different regions of the country, the government has nonetheless tried to implement a few measures.

Due to the widely perceived inefficacy of the Nigerian government, armed vigilante groups have sprung up in many farmer communities. This situation would often lead to vicious cycles of bloody feuds among farmers and herders. Local politicians and religious leaders have also exacerbated conflicts by recruiting members and frequently exaggerating claims.[5]

Since 2012, there have been projects to create transhumance corridors through the Middle Belt. Mostly supported by Northern lawmakers and opposed by their Southern counterparts, these endeavours have been rarely successful.[21]

In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari tried to create Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements. His proposal was met with fierce criticism.[22] On 17 May 2021, the 17 Southern governors in Nigeria issued the Asaba Declaration, aimed at solving the crisis.[23]

Although ranching, where cattle are kept in enclosed parcels of land, has frequently been proposed as a solution to the crisis, this has proven to be highly unfeasible in Nigeria due to poor infrastructure (with unstable supplies of electricity, water, and fuel) and difficulties with acquisition and legal ownership of land. Land grabbing and cattle rustling are also potential difficulties that ranchers would have to deal with. Ranchers would also be unable to compete with nomadic herders with zero land-related costs.[24]

List of attacks

Nigerian and foreign newspapers are often unable to provide exact numbers of casualties. Despite the high number of attacks, Nigerian and foreign journalists rarely have access to first-hand testimonies and tend to report inaccurate figures.[25]

  • According to the Global Terrorism Index, these conflicts resulted in over 800 deaths by 2015.[26]
  • The year 2016 saw further incidents in Agatu, Benue and Nimbo, Enugu State.[27][28]
  • In April 2018 Fulani gunmen allegedly killed 19 people during an attack on the church, afterwards they burnt dozens of nearby homes.[29]
  • In January 2018 about 10 persons were killed in an attack and reprisal involving herders and local farmers in Numan local council of Adamawa State.[30][31][32]
  • In May 2018 over 400 herdsmen attacked four villages of Lamurde, Bang, Bolk, Zumoso and Gon in Numan and Lamurde local councils of Adamawa State killing 15 people.[33]
  • In June 2018, over 200 people were killed and 50 houses were burnt in clashes between farmers and Fulani cattle herders in Plateau State, including one devastating attack from the night of the 22nd to the morning of the 23rd which killed 21 villagers in the village of Dowaya, Adamawa state. The casualties were reported to only consist of women and children.[34][35][36][37]
  • In July 2018, a clash erupted between the Fulani settlers and the Yandang community in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State. About 73 people were killed and 50 villages were razed.[38]
  • In October 2018, Fulani herdsmen killed at least 19 people in Bassa.[39]
  • On 16 December 2018, militants believed to be Fulani herdsmen attacked a village in Jema'a, killing 15 people and injuring at least 24 others, the attack occurred at a wedding ceremony.[40][41]
  • On 11 February 2019, an attack on an Adara settlement named Ungwar Bardi by suspected Fulani gunmen killed 11. Reprisal attack by Adara targeted settlements of the Fulani killing at least 141 people with 65 missing. The attacks took place in Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State.[42] According to a governor the motive was to destroy specific communities.[43][44]
  • The Coalition Against Kajuru killings stated on 18 March 2019 that 130 people have been killed in a series of revenge attacks since the massacre announced by El-Rufai.[45]
  • On January 26th and 27th of 2020, 32 villagers were murdered in two different attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Plateau State.[46]

See also

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ "Stopping Nigeria's Spiralling Farmer-Herder Violence". International Crisis Group. 24 December 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b Ilo, Udo Jude; Jonathan-Ichaver, Ier; Adamolekun, 'Yemi (2019-01-24). "The Deadliest Conflict You've Never Heard of". Foreign Affairs : America and the World. ISSN 0015-7120. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  3. ^ "Herdsmen and Farmers Conflict in Nigeria: A Threat to Peacebuilding and Human Security in West Africa | Africa Up Close". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  4. ^ "Nigeria school abductions sparked by cattle feuds, not extremism, officials say". Reuters. 24 December 2020. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Blench, Roger. 2010. Conflict between pastoralists and cultivators in Nigeria. Review paper prepared for the Department for International Development (DFID), Nigeria.
  6. ^ "ICON Launches New Report Proving Nigerian Genocide". Missions Box. 3 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Nigeria's Silent Slaughter Genocide in Nigeria and the Implications for the International Community". International Committee on Nigeria.
  8. ^ a b "How Climate Change Is Spurring Land Conflict in Nigeria". Time. 28 June 2018.
  9. ^ Baca, Michael W. (21 August 2015). "My Land, Not Your Land. Farmer-Herder Wars in the Sahel". Foreign Affairs. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  10. ^ "Farmer-Herder Clashes Amplify Challenge for Beleaguered Nigerian Security". IPI Global Observatory. 16 July 2015.
  11. ^ Blench, Roger. 2016. The fire next time: the upsurge in civil insecurity across the Central Zone of Nigeria. Cambridge: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation.
  12. ^ Blench, Roger (2020). An Atlas of Nigerian Languages (PDF). Cambridge: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation.
  13. ^ Blench, Roger. 2019. Old data and new technologies: the seamless integration of linguistics, literacy and translation for Nigerian minority languages. Jos Linguistic Circle, Jos, 13th March, 2019.
  14. ^ Blench, Roger (2020-12-31). "Research on the Plateau languages of Central Nigeria". Afrika und Übersee. Hamburg University Press. 93: 3–44. doi:10.15460/auue.2021.93.1.209.
  15. ^ Last, Murray (2007). "Muslims and Christians in Nigeria: An economy of political panic". The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs. 96 (392): 605–616. doi:10.1080/00358530701626057. ISSN 0035-8533. S2CID 219627153.
  16. ^ "Government failures fuel deadly conflict between farmers and herders in Nigeria". www.amnesty.org. 17 December 2018.
  17. ^ "Eduresource World: Causes and Effect of Desertification in Nigeria". Eduresource World. 2013-08-09. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  18. ^ Simire, Michael (2018-11-18). "Nigeria threatened by desertification, says NCF". EnviroNews Nigeria. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  19. ^ a b c Madu, Ignatius Ani; Nwankwo, Cletus Famous (20 May 2020). "Spatial pattern of climate change and farmer–herder conflict vulnerabilities in Nigeria". GeoJournal. 86 (6): 2691–2707. doi:10.1007/s10708-020-10223-2. S2CID 219475368.
  20. ^ "The deepening Pastoral Conflict". Nigeria's leading geopolitical intelligence platform. 2017-11-30. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  21. ^ "Senators fight over grazing land for Fulani herdsmen". The Punch. 21 July 2012. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014.
  22. ^ "Ruga settlement". Sahara Reporters. 28 June 2019.
  23. ^ "FULL COMMUNIQUE: Southern Governors Call For National Dialogue, Ban Open Grazing". Channels TV. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  24. ^ Blench, Roger. 2017. Pastoral conflict and supplying Nigeria with meat: how can the paradox be resolved. Field investigations on pastoralist-farmers crises areas and enhancement of MISEREOR’s partnersinterventions in Nigeria, Phase 3. Revised paper prepared for ISEREOR/JDPs.
  25. ^ Hiribarren, Vincent (2019). Un manguier au Nigeria : Histoires du Borno. Paris: Plon. ISBN 978-2-259-25086-3.
  26. ^ "Global Terrorism Index 2015" (PDF). Institute for Economics and Peace. pp. 43–44.
  27. ^ Muslim Fulani Herdsmen Massacres Reach Southern Nigeria, Morning Star News. April 27, 2016
  28. ^ Fulani Herdsmen Massacre 40 Farmers in Enugu. Tori.ng; posted by Thandiubani on Tue 26th Apr, 2016
  29. ^ "Fresh bloodbath in Benue, 2 Catholic priests, 17 others killed by herdsmen". Vanguard News. April 25, 2018.
  30. ^ "Herdsmen Attack: Reprisal Claims Six Lives In Adamawa". Sahara Reporters. 2018-01-23. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  31. ^ Ochetenwu, Jim (2019-11-23). "Suspected herdsmen attack Adamawa village, kill many". Daily Post Nigeria. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  32. ^ "Herdsmen: Attack, reprisal claim six lives in Adamawa". Vanguard News. 2018-01-23. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  33. ^ "JUST IN: 400 herdsmen attack Adamawa villages, 15 locals killed". The Sun Nigeria. 2018-05-03. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  34. ^ Kazeem, Yomi. "The latest clash between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria has left more than 200 dead". Quartz.
  35. ^ "Communal clashes leave 86 dead in Nigeria". BBC News. 25 June 2018.
  36. ^ Nigeria, Information (25 June 2018). "86 people killed and 50 houses burnt in fresh Fulani herdsmen attack in Plateau".
  37. ^ "21 feared killed in Adamawa herdsmen attack". Punch Newspapers. 24 June 2018. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  38. ^ "Clashes in northern Nigeria's Taraba leave 73 dead - Xinhua | English.news.cn".
  39. ^ "Herdsmen kill 19 in Plateau midnight attack". October 5, 2018.
  40. ^ "15 killed, 24 injured as gunmen attack Kaduna village". www.dailytrust.com.ng. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  41. ^ "Gunmen Kill 15, Injure 20 in Southern Kaduna". www.thisdaylive.com. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  42. ^ "How 66 people were killed in Kaduna in two days". Premium Times. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  43. ^ "Miyetti Allah releases names of 131 victims of Kajuru, Kaduna violence | Premium Times Nigeria". February 22, 2019.
  44. ^ "'El- Rufai alleges plan to 'wipe out' some Kaduna communities". Premium Times. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  45. ^ Tauna, Amos (March 19, 2019). "Kajuru killings: Over 130 lives wasted - Group laments".
  46. ^ "Violence in Plateau State, Nigeria Escalates with more Muslim Fulani Herdsmen Attacks". MorningStar News. January 30, 2020.

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