THE CRISIS BETWEEN HERDSMEN AND FARMERS; A CASE STUDY OF BENUE STATE 2015-2017
1.1 Background to the Study
Fulani as a tribe is known with the business of cattle rearing. Notwithstanding this fact, a number of Nigerians and even foreigners are also found in cattle rearing. Those vulnerable to herdsmen attacks seem to condemn the entire tribe of Fulani incognizant of the innocence of the majority. Fulani herdsmen have been labelled by some Nigeria’s newspapers with various frames as a result of their clash with their farmers counterparts in Nigeria. On the real identity of the parties involved in the herders/farmers conflict, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, called for the urgent resolution of the persistent crises between farmers and herdsmen in the country, stating that Boko Haram militants are taking advantage of the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers across the country to terrorize Nigerians under that guise (DailyTrust, 2016). In addition, Sultan of Sokoto has noted that the herders moving with guns and causing violence are not Nigerians. To him, they are foreigners coming into Nigeria to cause a breach of the peace “they are terrorists and should be treated as such by Nigerian security agencies” (Daily Trust, 2016). Of these herdsmen, the Fulani are highly visible. Yet there are about 14 other groups who practise pastoralist activities in Nigeria, including the Arabs, Kanuri, Kanembu, Shuwa, and Touareg (Blench 2010). However, this has made the real identity of the herders obscure. In Nigeria today, farmer-herder conflict is an enduring feature of social life in almost all the six geo-political zones in the country. The phrase farmer-herder conflict is typically used to refer to conflict between herding and farming groups. Using this word can be misleading since it can suggest that herders and farmers are separate groups when in fact most herders are nowadays farmers and many farmers may herd their livestock at least on seasonal basis.