THE traditional relationship between farmers and Fulani herdsmen in most part of the country is always marked with tension over the protection of their source of livelihood. Many times the conflicts between the parties are rooted in the land tenure system; settlers and indigenes contest over land and misplaced development strategies of the government. On the part of the farmers, they want to protect their crops from being trampled and grazed on by the roving cattle owned by the herdsmen, who on the other hand, want to protect their grazing herds from being killed by angry farmers.
It has always been an aged-old problem which has resulted in many minor skirmishes between the farmers and the herdsmen with each party fighting for their rights. Both the farmers and the herdsmen in the traditional setting had no access to any form of sophisticated weapons. The farmers used to fight with their hoes, clubs and cutlasses while the herdsmen armed themselves with their arrows, sticks and bows.
But all that looks like a distant past considering what has been happening in recent times in the North central states of Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau, among others. In these places, the media has been awash with screaming headlines of hundreds of people being mercilessly killed in surprise attacks allegedly done by Fulani herdsmen, who used the cover of the night to commit the havoc. In most cases, the victims have been unsuspecting women and children who might be soundly asleep at the time of attacks. In March alone, hundreds of people have been killed in the incessant mindless attacks and property worth millions of naira destroyed.
The herdsmen even had the effrontery of confronting the convoy of Governor Gabriel Suswam, who was visiting one of the enclaves the herdsmen struck in his state to assess the extent of the damage. A visible shaken Suswam stressed that this was a new breed of herdsmen and could have infiltrated the country through the borders because of the sophisticated weapons they used to exchange fire with his convoy for almost an hour.
Needless to say that something has to be done to check the ugly development. At Realnews, the editorial board debated the wanton damaged by the herdsmen and decided to investigate what went wrong. What we found out from security analysts point to a deliberate and unwholesome premeditated strategy by some political heavyweights in the country to gain advantage during general election in 2015. If this is true, is it worth the blood of innocent Nigerians being killed by the supposed Fulani herdsmen? What are the security agencies doing to contain this emerging onslaught before more havoc is unleashed in other parts of the country where the herdsmen take their cattle to? Is the idea of setting up a grazing reserve going to stop the perennial problems? There are no easy answers to all the questions. But our cover story for this week entitled: The Menace of Fulani Herdsmen provides you with the details of what you ought to know about the premeditated murder of innocent villagers under the guise of Fulani herdsmen. It was written by Olu Ojewale, our general editor. Enjoy it.
— Apr. 7, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT