Incessant clashes of the Fulanis and farmers have been reported in several states in Nigeria in recent times in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, and now, Enugu state. Clashes by herdsmen, mainly Fulanis, and their host communities are as old as the country of Nigeria. Fulanis are known for their nomadic activities, such as shepherding their cattle with a wooden staff. They are all over West Africa looking for grassland to feed their animals since they live in semi-desert regions.
Recent conflicts show that the Fulanis do not just shepherd with wooden staffs, but they have upgraded to more sophisticated weapons.
No fewer than 20 persons in Ukpabi Nimbo, an agrarian community in the Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, were killed during an attack by Fulani herdsmen on Monday. It was learned that scores of armed cattle rearers, reportedly there were more than 100, stormed the sleepy community in the early hours of Monday, April 25. Police sources say it would be difficult to determine the actual number of those killed, as the killing is spreading evenly to other parts of the local government.
“The Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) lamented that Fulani herdsmen have killed 710 Nigerians including the much talked about Agatu killings in 10 months between June 2015 and April 2016.”
The Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Joe Nworgu says that the continuous killing of people across the country by herdsmen without any response from the federal government is a failure of governance. “We are very sad and very disappointed that all over the country, not just in the South-East, these killings by Fulani herdsmen have continued unabated and nothing concrete is being done by the Federal Government,” said Nworgu.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been criticised for his handling of the crisis, which has resulted in hundreds of deaths. President Muhammadu Buhari had initiated a plan to map out grazing areas as a temporary solution to the frequent conflicts “until cattle owners are persuaded” to adopt other means of rearing their cattle. However, the idea was frowned upon by most Nigerians because it is believed that some Fulani herdsmen are not Nigerian and giving them grazing land will only instigate more violence.
“These communal clashes are very delicate issues, very emotional and what the government is doing is working very silently to ensure that people who used to live together before without any conflict will go back to that. In few weeks from now, we will begin to see the result of that,” states Nigerian Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed.
The security agencies have swung into action since this incident was reported. According to the Commissioner of Police spokesman in Enugu state, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu confirmed the incident and said the police are working hand-in-hand with other security agencies to make sure that normalcy is restored.
Mr. Solomon Arase, the Inspector General of Police also assured the people of Ukpabi Nimbo that those suspected Fulani herdsmen involved in the attack would be arrested and prosecuted.
Farmers will do everything to protect their crops and the herdsmen will also do the unthinkable things to protect their cattle. The farmers will attack the Fulanis and their cattle when seen on their farmland and there will be a bloody retaliation from the Fulani herdsmen on the community. The Nigerian government and all stakeholders involved should swing to action immediately to permanently halt this incessant bloodshed by the Fulani herdsmen.