Group Says Nigeria Conflict Likely to Grow Without Major Intervention

ICC Note: The International Crisis Group reports that the farmer-herder conflict in Nigeria will only continue to escalate without government intervention. They see this as a multi-dimensional conflict that has taken on religious overtones. Without strong intervention, the conflict will become more destabilizing to the region and be exploited by religious extremists.

07/27/2018 Nigeria (International Crisis Group) – What’s new? Violence between Nigerian herders and farmers has escalated, killing more than 1,300 people since January 2018. The conflict has evolved from spontaneous reactions to provocations and now to deadlier planned attacks, particularly in Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Taraba states.

Why did it happen? Three factors have aggravated this decades-long conflict arising from environmental degradation in the far north and encroachment upon grazing grounds in the Middle Belt: militia attacks; the poor government response to distress calls and failure to punish past perpetrators; and new laws banning open grazing in Benue and Taraba states.

Why does it matter? The farmer-herder conflict has become Nigeria’s gravest security challenge, now claiming far more lives than the Boko Haram insurgency. It has displaced hundreds of thousands and sharpened ethnic, regional and religious polarisation. It threatens to become even deadlier and could affect forthcoming elections and undermine national stability.

What should be done? The federal government should better protect both herders and farmers, prosecute attackers, and carry out its National Livestock Transformation Plan. State governments should roll out open grazing bans in phases. Communal leaders should curb inflammatory rhetoric and encourage compromise. International partners should advocate for accountability and support livestock sector reform.

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