Mambilla Plateau Crises: A Thing Of Concern To General Peace


At least eighteen people have been killed in the crisis between the Fulani and Mambilla ethnic groups in Sardauna Local Government area of Taraba state.

The Mambilla Plateau is a plateau in the Taraba state of Nigeria. The plateau is Nigeria’s northern continuation of the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon. The Mambilla Plateau has an average elevation of about 1,600 metres (5,249 ft) above sea level, making it the highest plateau in Nigeria. Some of its villages are situated on hills that are, at least, 1,828 metres (5,997 ft) above sea level.

The Mambilla Plateau in Nigeria features unique physical and climatic conditions for human settlement, as well as for cattle breeding, which is why the Mambilla farmers have chosen this environment to settle and develop in, thereby creating a dense population. Meanwhile, during the 19th century, the highlands became the main sources of slaves for the Muslim Fulani kingdoms of Banyo and Gashaka. Although resisting strongly, the Mambilla villages fell one after the other. This resulted in a demographic collapse: by 1930 the Mambilla were reduced to a population of 16,000. In the 1920s Mbororo and Fulani graziers began to settle in the region: their livestock became the main cause of environmental degradation. Severe erosion of the grazed land can now be observed, mainly characterized by the deepening of the river beds and the collapse of river banks. Such a phenomenon is attributed to a change in the rainwater flows due to the exhaustion of the vegetation cover. The uncontrolled growth of livestock has been followed by high competition for land between the graziers and those Mambilla farmers who survived the Fulani occupation. The graziers holding most of the political power have progressively deprived the farmers of their lands: the latter are now confined within isolated small enclaves. They have lost their economic independence and are reduced to work for the graziers or to emigrate to Cameroon. Furthermore, in a large part of the Mambilla plateau, the pastoral range has been divided between the graziers, excluding the Mambilla farmers, as well as the poorest Fulani, from land ownership and enhancing their dependency on the graziers. Such an explosive situation is illustrated by two surveys of the Kuma and Leme regions. Over the 78 km² studied in Kuma, the Mambilla possess only 22% of the area; the survey found 132 herds (at an estimated total of 9475 cattle) with a population density of 1.5 cattle per ha, almost totally owned by Muslim graziers. The area studied in Leme covers 113.5 km² of uneven land. Although confined to nine enclaves, the Mambilla owned 32% of the land, while the Muslim graziers possess 67%. 145 herds have been counted (at an estimated total of 10,215 cattle): 63% are owned by the Mbororo, 20% by Fulani and the Hausa from Gembu, 10% by the Mambilla, and 7% by the recent Yamba migrants.

Meanwhile, during the 19th century, the highlands were the main sources of slaves for the Muslim Fulani kingdoms of Banyo and Gashaka. Although they resisted strongly, the Mambilla villages fell one after the other. This resulted in a demographic collapse, and by 1930 the Mambilla were reduced to a population of 16,000. In the 1920s, Mbororo and Fulani graziers began to settle in the region, and their livestock became the main cause of environmental degradation. Severe erosion of the grazed land can now be observed and is mainly characterized by the deepening of the river beds and the collapse of river banks. Such a phenomenon is attributed to a change in the rainwater flows due to the exhaustion of the vegetation cover. The uncontrolled growth of livestock has been followed by high competition for land between the graziers and those Mambilla farmers who survived the Fulani occupation. The graziers, who hold most of the political power, have progressively deprived the farmers of their lands, and in fact, the latter are now confined within isolated small enclaves. As a result, the Mambilla farmers have lost their economic independence and have been reduced to working for the graziers or to emigrate to Cameroon.

Furthermore, in a large part of the Mambilla Plateau, the pastoral range has been divided between the graziers, as well as the poorest Fulani, thereby excluding the Mambilla farmers from land ownership and enhancing their dependency on the graziers. Such an explosive situation is illustrated by two surveys of the Kuma and Leme regions. Over the 78 km² studied in Kuma, the Mambilla possess only 22% of the area, while the survey found 132 herds (an estimated total of 9,475 cattle) with a population density of 1.5 cattle per ha, which is almost totally owned by Muslim graziers. The area studied in Leme covers 113.5 km² of uneven land. Although the land studied in this case is confined to nine enclaves, the Mambilla owned 32% of the land, while the Muslim graziers possess 67%. 145 herds have been counted (an estimated total of 10,215 cattle). In addition, 63% of the land is owned by the Mbororo, 20% by Fulani and the Hausa from Gembu, 10% by the Mambilla, and 7% by the recent Yamba migrants.

The incessant crisis in the Mambilla plateau did not start today and it is disheartening that the government hasn’t found a lasting solution to the issue, which often results in a blood bath. For instance, recently, eighteen people were killed, and houses and cattle worth millions of naira were destroyed.

The Commissioner of Police of the state, at a press conference in Jalingo, revealed the following: Babas stated that the police and other security agencies had deployed enough men to the area to ensure the protection of lives and property.

With that said, how long can a faulty foundation continue to be built on? For instance, Taraba state elders and statesmen are aware of the long history of the Mambilla Plateau crisis, yet there has been no serious effort to put and end to it.

As such, Nigerians are worried by the recent crisis rearing its ugly head in Taraba state between graziers and farmers on the Mambilla Plateau again. Some stakeholders have come out with a press release titled, “THE TRUE STATE OF THE MATTER.” For example, in a press release signed by the trio of Muhammed A. Tepsi,    Marcus Bovoa, and  Ismaila Mbun respectively, for and on behalf of Sardauna Local Government, they stated that stakeholders should see beyond conspiracy theories in order to come up with a working solution to this unending bloodshed and put their house in order.

Oshodi Ebenezer
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Oshodi Ebenezer

Born in owo, south west region of Nigeria.
A graduate of Urban and regional planning from federal university of technology Yola. Nigeria.
Surveyor at Hartland construction company.
Oshodi Ebenezer
follow me

About Oshodi Ebenezer

Born in owo, south west region of Nigeria. A graduate of Urban and regional planning from federal university of technology Yola. Nigeria. Surveyor at Hartland construction company.