Wire Service
2 minute read
22 Dec 2021
3:15 am

Nigeria ethnic violence toll jumps to 45


Deadly clashes between nomadic cattle herders and local farmers over grazing and water rights are common in central Nigeria.

Nigerian President vowed to protect all religious and ethnic groups in the country after deadly clashes erupted between different communities at a market in the southwest over the weekend. Long-standing rivalry over access to land and resources between northern Fulani herders and southern Yoruba farmers are behind renewed ethnic tensions across the south. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Some 45 farmers were killed in attacks carried out by herders in Nigeria’s central Nasarawa state, the presidency said on Tuesday, giving a higher toll than local officials.

Local police said violence erupted on Friday and continued until Sunday when armed Fulani herders attacked villagers from the Tiv ethnic group over the killing of a kinsman that they blamed on Tiv farmers.

The police initially gave a death toll of eight, with other sources suggesting many more had been killed.

Later on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari’s office released a statement saying the leader “expressed grief over the heart-wrenching murder of 45 farmers and scores injured”.

Buhari was quoted as saying his government would “leave no stone unturned in fishing out the perpetrators of this senseless and barbaric incident, and bring them to justice”.

Nasarawa state police spokesman Ramhan Nansel earlier said military and police teams had deployed in the area to restore calm and arrest the perpetrators.

“We received a complaint on the killing of a Fulani herdsman but while the investigation was ongoing, a reprisal attack was carried out in Hangara village and neighbouring Kwayero village,” Nansel said.

“Eight people were killed in the attacks and their bodies were recovered by the police and taken to hospital.”

However, Peter Ahemba of the Tiv Development Association said the death toll was higher.

“We recovered more than 20 corpses of our people killed in the attacks in 12 villages across Lafia, Obi and Awe districts where around 5,000 were displaced,” he said, adding that many people were still missing.

Deadly clashes between nomadic cattle herders and local farmers over grazing and water rights are common in central Nigeria.

The internecine conflict has taken on an ethnic and religious dimension in recent years. The Fulani herders are Muslim and the farmers largely Christians.

The friction, which has roots dating back more than a century, was caused by droughts, population growth, the expansion of sedentary farming into communal areas as well as poor governance.

Violence by criminal gangs of cattle thieves among the herders, who raid villages, killing and burning homes after looting them, has compounded the situation.