Communal conflicts in Nigeria - Wikipedia
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More than 1, people have been killed in the escalating conflict from January to June as attacks between nomadic Fulani herders and native farmers have shifted from spontaneous reactions to provocations and most recently planned attacks, according to a report by the International Crisis Group.
The total is six times greater than those killed by the Boko Haram militant group in the same period of time.
The two sides existed in relative peace for decades, with the herders and farmers forming a symbiotic relationship in which herders would bring their cattle to eat the leftovers from the farmers' harvests during the rainy season and in turn share milk with the farmers. However inthe groups were forced to compete over increasingly limited resources, spurring the violent clashes that persist to this day.
RELATED At least 16 people killed in attack on Nigerian church "It is not a situation in which the groups are basically antagonistic to one another or mutually incompatible. In many areas, they had lived largely peacefully with each other, over many decades or even centuries, until the resource conflict introduced new tensions to their interactions, new complications to their relationships," Nnamdi Obasi, senior adviser on Nigeria at International Crisis Group, told UPI.
Nigeria's conflict is a result of environmental devastation across West Africa
As the conflict has escalated in the following years, structural issues such as a lack of government security and an influx of weaponry have led to the formation of militias that look to police violence in communities throughout the country themselves. Livestock reform The pastoralist lifestyle of the Fulani herders is at the center of the conflict as various factors pushed the herders closer to the farmers' territory and left them increasingly competing for little space and few resources.
Environmental degradation over the course of three to five decades, Boko Haram's insurgency in the northeast and increasingly organized banditry in the northwest have forced herders to move south, while farmers continued to expand their settlements and in turn blocked traditional herding routes.
Obasi noted that while pastoralism created little conflict through many centuries when human population density in the region was very low and there were vast open spaces and clearly designated grazing routes, some practices are no longer sustainable.
Desirable as it is that cattle be confined and bred only in reserves and ranches in order to stop farm trespass, cattle rustling and resultant herder-farmer conflicts, the transition to that goal is not achievable overnight," he said.
In MayBenue state passed one of the strictest laws, requiring herders to buy land and establish ranches and prohibiting any grazing outside of said ranches as well as forbidding transportation of cattle by any means other than road or rail.
The law was supported by farmers -- who make up 90 percent of the state's population -- but resisted by herders, who argued they weren't consulted by the government, nor were they given time to purchase land. Benue's laws ultimately drove herders away from the area and into Nasarawa state where they engaged in violent clashes with farmers. Some herders groups are favorably disposed to the plan and have actually endorsed it publicly. They understand that roaming cattle across the country is encountering increasing problems, and that breeding cattle in reserves and ranches could indeed offer significant advantages, so they are receptive of the government's plan," Obasi said.
Messenger Nigeria is experiencing a major conflict between nomadic herdsmen and indigenous farmers. In January alone, the conflict claimed the lives of people. The herdsmen are predominantly Fulanis, a primarily Muslim people scattered throughout many parts of West Africa. The farmers, meanwhile, are mostly Christian.
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Therefore, when violence erupts between the two groups, with symbolic results like churches being burnt down, it is unsurprising that the dominant narrative in Nigeria and abroad is that this is a conflict motivated by religion and ethnicity.
Nigeria spans more than 1,km from a lush and tropical south to the fringes of the Sahara Desert in the north. And, in Nigeria, the Sahara is moving southward at a rate of metres a year.
Fulani herdsmen who once relied on the lake have thus moved further south in search of pasture and water for their livestock.
Communal conflicts in Nigeria
The further south you move, the more the population becomes Christian, hence when resource conflicts emerge they appear religious. The Nigerian portion has almost entirely disappeared.
A drought in the late 60s, for instance, kicked off struggles over land use across the Saheland the Fulanis do have a history of strategic annexation of territories. This is because environmental devastation has necessitated widespread migration of Fulanis from all over West Africa to the south of Nigeria, which has been unable to prevent nomads from other countries from coming in along its long borders.