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Strengthening The Delivery Of Peace & Security (SDPS) Project

INTRODUCTION

Violent conflicts between pastoralists and farmers have been identified as one of Nigeria’s most pressing security challenges in recent years. The major hotspots of the crisis were initially in northern and central Nigeria but have now extended to the southern part of the country. [1] Historically, conflicts between the two food producing groups were few and far apart and mostly non- violent. [2] They also did not take on the numerous dimensions of kidnapping, rural banditry and cattle rustling that have now become recurrent. The changing dynamics of the conflict witnessed in recent times has been driven by widespread availability of small arms and light weapons as well as new modes of launching attacks. Finally, the numbers of causalities recorded have grown astronomically. According to a 2019 report, farmers-herders clashes in Nigeria have claimed more than 10,000 persons in the last decade; with over 4,000 cases recorded within the last two years alone. [3]

In southwestern Nigeria, conflicts involving farmers and herders have increased sharply since 2014. [4] Two people were reportedly killed and six injured in an attack linked to herdsmen in Ekiti state in 2016. In 2018, the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Ondo State spoke of incessant killings and destruction of farmlands by herdsmen in several farming communities in the State. [5] The death of no fewer than 11 people was also recorded at Igangan town, in Oyo State in June 2021. [6] Also in 2021, five people lost their lives while many sustained injuries in clashes that happened in Imeko, Afon local government area (LGA) of Ogun state. [7] For the most part, the growing violence has strained social cohesion [8] and threatens regional security and stability. Lastly, recent farmer-herder clashes tend to be framed in ethno-regional and religious terms; erroneously projected as a subterranean attempt to perpetrate Fulani hegemony across the federation. In predominantly Yoruba southwestern states, for instance, it has led to heightened calls for secession and the creation of pan-Yoruba nation.

RESEARCH METHODS

The data for this research was obtained from both primary and secondary sources. Primary data for this study was collected in September 2021 using key informant interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with farmers, traditional leaders, pastoralists, representative of pastoralist groups, nonpastoralist Fulani and local security networks in towns and villages (both Fulani and Yoruba) in the Ibarapa axis of Oyo state. Previous fieldwork conducted between 2015-2021 in the state by the researcher was also drawn on along with secondary sources such as academic journals, reports and newspaper articles. Oyo State was selected because it is one of hotspots of farmers-herders’ crises in southwestern region of the country.9 The Ibarapa zone in the state was constantly in the news for at least 6 months as a result of the crises between 2020 and 2021.10 Nothing less than 10 persons were murdered and 25 persons kidnapped within the space of two years (2019 to 2021) allegedly due to the crises in Ibarapa.11 Similarly, the area experienced mass exodus of Fulani who were largely forcefully by the locals in Igangan community. As a result of this, there was a reprisal attack by the Fulani on the community claiming more than 11 lives and loss of properties.

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