From EMEKA OKONKWO
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE Nigerian government has been urged to intervene in escalating violent conflicts between herders and farmers, which have left 2 500 people dead in 2016.
The clashes between the nomadic livestock rearers from northern Nigeria and sedentary agrarian communities in the central and southern zones are becoming as potentially dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east where 20 000 civilians have been killed in eight years.
Problems relating to land and water use, obstruction of traditional migration routes, livestock theft and crop damage trigger the disputes between herders and farmers.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) has denounced the response to the crisis at both the federal and state levels as poor.
The organisation said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and affected state governments need to work together, take immediate steps to shore up security for herders and farmers, strengthen conflict-resolution
mechanisms and initiate longer-term efforts to reform livestock management practices.
Buhari recently denounced the violence but ICG urged governments to address negative environmental trends and curb cross-border movements of both cattle rustlers and armed herders.
The organisation said the reaction from authorities, so far, had been “wanting.”
“Aside from the recent push against Boko Haram and military operations against cattle rustling, they have done little else to address rural insecurity in the north.”
The think-tank said security and law enforcement agencies had established neither early-warning nor rapid response mechanisms.
“They have not arrested and prosecuted perpetrators of violence or offered redress to victims.”
ICG stated governments’ responses overall had been short-sighted.
“Most have failed to encourage community-level dialogue. As a result, both herders and farmers are taking matters into their own hands, further aggravating conflicts.”
The Belgian-based ICG said authorities other relevant actors need to take remedial actions with a greater sense of urgency.
“Failure to respond, decisively and effectively, would allow Nigeria to continue sliding into increasingly deadly conflict.”
– CAJ News