12 January 2018

Nigeria: Herdsmen/Farmers' Conflict - What We're Having Is a 'Communal Situation', IG Maintains

Lafia — The Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, has maintained that the crisis between herdsmen and farmers on the border of Nasarawa and Benue States is a communal situation.

The IG stuck to his earlier pronouncement over the crisis which had generated a lot of criticism from several Nigerians during a stakeholders' meeting he convened yesterday in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, to bring to an end the ongoing crisis between the two groups on the border of the two states.

His position was a departure from what he said in Benue State last Wednesday when he was forced to apologise to the residents of the state for describing the killings by suspected herdsmen as a communal crisis.

Yesterday, Idris said he was in Nasarawa State based on a directive on him by President Muhammadu Buhari to reconcile the aggrieved communities.

"I am still referring to communities because we are dealing with human beings, and when you are dealing with human beings, you have to consult the dialogue between those various parties in the community before you can arrive at a very amiable solution," he added.

He said: "I still want to maintain that what we are having is a communal situation. These are people that have lived together for years and I think we should be our brother's keeper. We should tolerate one another as Nigerians.

"The fact is that there is nobody that can wish away any Nigerian where he is, and that is why the issue of tolerance is what Nigerians must take very seriously. I was a commissioner of police in this state and I encountered what you people are experiencing today," he continued.

He therefore called on Nigerians, where ever they are, to try to relate with one another in order to have peace and harmony in the Nigerian society.

Speaking about the ongoing attacks on Tiv communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen, the political leader of Tiv community in Nasarawa State, Mr. Gabriel Akaaka, told the IG that many Tiv people have lost their lives and property in Nasarawa State as a result of the implementation of the Benue State anti-open grazing law.

"What could be done to usher in normalcy in Tiv settlements to pave the way for the return of the displaced Tiv farmers is to identify where the alleged militias are said to be hiding by strengthening surveillance across the border line of the two states," he said.

Akaaka, who is the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Environment and

Solid Minerals, told the stakeholders' meeting that the attacks being carried out on the Tiv communities in the state was not done by the indigenous Fulani herdsmen but those transversing Nasarawa State from other places, hence Akaaka appealed on the authorities concerned on the need to identify where the problem was coming from.

In his submission, the Emir of Tunga, Alhaji Bala Galadima, denied reports that militias are camped in Tunga to attack Benue State, even as he claimed that both Tivs and Fulanis have been living peacefully until the implementation of the anti-open grazing law by the government of Benue State.

Galadima said: "Tiv people in my domain had envisaged a possible spill over of the Benue State anti-open grazing crisis to Nasarawa State. We are troubled by the statement credited to Governor Samuel Ortom that my domain (Tunga) is habouring militias that attack Benue State."

Also, the leaders of both Fulani herdsmen and Tiv community in Tunga, Ardo Maishanu and Zaki Gaso respectively, said during the meeting that nobody has asked the Tiv people to leave Tunga because of the conflict in Benue State.

The two community leaders consequently called for the presence of more security operatives to enable the farmers go back to their abodes and continue with the harvest of their crops.

Meanwhile, the senator representing Nasarawa South senatorial district at the National Assembly, Suleiman Adokwe, has donated relief materials to Tiv farmers who were displaced as a result of attacks on their communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

Adokwe, who is the Senate Committee Chairman on information and Culture, made the donation yesterday at Awe internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Awe Local Government Area of the Nasarawa State.

The senator, who was represented by Mr. James Agbo, described the attacked on the Tiv communities on the border of Nasarawa and Benue States by the suspected herders as barbaric and condemnable in all its ramifications.

He said: "It is very sad that the issue of farmers and herdsmen crisis should not only be localised, but a national issue. I wish that the federal government would take a measure quickly in order to find a way of stopping this incessant crisis in the interest of peace and development.


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