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History Of Fulani Herdsmen And Farmers Clashes In Nigeria

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The recent attacks by Fulani herdsmen is on the increase, with the most recent attacks in June 2016 occurring in Ossissa community in Ndokwa east local government area, Delta state and three more communities (Ugondo, Turan, Gabo Nenzev) in Logo Local Government Area, Benue State, total killings involving no fewer than 60 persons. The Federal Government recently ordered an inquiry, military crackdown on the group and affirmed its plans to establish cattle ranches as a solution to the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria.
This turbulence stands out because of the seeming boldness of the perpetrators and the mystery surrounding their real agenda. While many believe that it is a simply a farming, grazing land and water dispute, whereby they clash with farmers who accuse them of damaging their crops and failure to control their animals, the Fulanis under the cattle breeders association claims that they are being attacked by gangs from farming communities who try to steal their cattle and they are just defending themselves. But why do these attacks extend to mass killings and butchery? That is the argument before us now, to fully understand the fundamental purpose of what this militant group demands, the cost of their action and seek a proper way forward to curb their attacks.
According to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, these Fulani militants are the fourth deadliest militant group in the world with a record killing of 1229 people in 2014.
However, the Federal Government has stated that inquiries have established that most of these herdsmen who were involved in these clashes in Nigerian communities are not Nigerian citizens and due to the ECOWAS Transhumance Protocol; which has given the right of free movement to citizens of member countries, it cannot stop non-citizens of Nigeria from grazing their cattle across the country.


The paper assessed the conflict between herdsmen and farmers in Guma local government area of Benue State. A total of 160 heads of farming households and 48 herdsmen from areas that have experienced framer-herders conflict were purposively selected. Data for the study was collected using questionnaire, field observation and reports from Benue State Agricultural and rural development authority. The data collected comprised of socio-economic characteristics of farmers and herdsmen, causes and effects of the conflict. The study revealed that, both farmers (AI=1.93) and Herdsmen (AI=1.55) agreed that herdsmen were not accepted by their host communities. The role of traditional rulers (CCI=3.68), destruction of crops/farmland (CCI=3.21), contamination of water (CCI=3.45) and harassment of herdsmen by host communities (CCI=3.25) were the major causes of conflict between farmers and herdsmen. Displacement of both farmers and herdsmen (CEI=3.67), loss of lives and properties (CEI=3.49) and decrease in output (CEI=3.48) were the major effects of conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in the area. Yogbo town is the most affected in the area with estimated cost of property destroyed of ?43.8 million, 30 people killed and 32 people injured. The paper concluded that, the conflict is a setback to the development of agricultural sector and therefore recommend the creation of grazing reserves so that herders can shift from traditional method of animal husbandry to modern methods.


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