The Fulani herdsmen crisis is not new but it has taken a new dimension under the Buhari administration. The killings in Benue, Enugu, Plateau, Kaduna and Adamawa states in 2016, 2020, and 2019 left not less than 10 people dead. Recently, a few states in the South-West region of Nigeria were attacked by herdsmen for refusing to grant them access to their farmlands. The most recent being Ondo state after a farmer was stabbed.
Ondo Herdsmen Crisis
The identity of the young farmer stabbed by Fulani Herdsmen on his farm last week for denying them access to his farmland is yet to be identified and led to an ultimatum given to herdsmen to vacate the forest reserves of Ondo State within seven days by the state government. The Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu would go on to say,
Today we have taken major steps at addressing the root cause of kidnapping, in particular, and other nefarious activities detailed and documented in security reports, the press and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases in Ondo State.
These unfortunate incidents are traceable to the activities of some bad elements masquerading as herdsmen. These felons have turned our forest reserves into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.
In the past, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the All People’s Party (APP) in the 1999 elections, Olu Falae, was abducted by armed herders on his farm in Akure and a N5 million ransom was paid to help regain his freedom. Residents and traditional rulers of Yewa North Local Government Area, Ogun State, were also brutalized by soldiers who escorted herdsmen to graze in their communities. In Oyo State, farmers were chased off their farmlands and resorted to relocating for fear of their lives.
The Presidency through Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity faulted the Governor’s move to eject herdsmen from the state saying,
Rather the ultimatum and contradiction that may follow the order, the state government and the leadership of the Fulani communities in Ondo state should dialogue for a good understanding that will bring to an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state.
We need to delink terrorism and crimes from ethnicity, geographical origins and religion—to isolate the criminals who use this interchange of arguments to hinder law enforcement efforts as the only way to deal effectively with them.
The government of Ondo, and all the 35 others across the federation must draw clear lines between the criminals and the law-abiding citizens who must equally be saved from the infiltrators. Beyond law and order, the fight against crime is also a fight for human values which are fundamental to our country.
In order to resolve this, Governors of the 6 South West states and members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association(MACBAN) reached a few agreements at the meeting held in the course of the week:
- No night grazing henceforth.
- Underage herding is banned.
- Occupation of State Forest Reserves illegally is condemned.
Why this Matters
Ideally, the Ondo state government’s move to register all herdsmen within the state will curb open grazing and encroachment of farmland. A comprehensive database of herdsmen will enforce compliance, aid arrest of defaulters and prevent conflict within the state and depending on its success could offer a template for