Nigeria: 86 killed in fresh herder-farmer violence

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JOS, Nigeria, June 25, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu
Buhari on Sunday called for calm after 86 people were killed in an attack by
suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in the restive centre
of the country.

The grim discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after
days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on
Fulani herders on Thursday.

State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in
the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were
killed”.

Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses were razed.
Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.

The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources
that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections
approach next year.

The violence fuelled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances has
killed thousands over several decades.

Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern,
eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead
since 2009.

Buhari’s office said he “appeals for calm and assures that no efforts will
be spared” to bring those responsible to justice and prevent further attacks.

“The grievous loss of lives and property arising from the killings in
Plateau today is painful and regrettable,” he added.

– Curfew imposed –

The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements
in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law
and order”.

“The curfew takes effect immediately… and movement is restricted from
6:00 pm (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,”
spokesman Rufus Bature said.

On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway
and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim”, according to those who
escaped the violence.

Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the
military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and
vandalism to several cars.

There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the
violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.

“I escaped with a smashed windscreen and dents on my car. I saw six dead
bodies and several damaged cars,” he added.

– ‘Not safe’ –

Plateau state governor Simon Lalong promised that “operational plans are
currently being put in place to secure the affected communities and fish out
perpetrators of these crimes.

 

“While we pray for God’s guidance through this difficult time, we will do
everything humanly possible to secure our state immediately.”

But the violence in Plateau followed a pattern that has become familiar in
the state and elsewhere and which the authorities appear unable to stop.

On Thursday, Berom farmers attacked five ethnic Fulani herders travelling
with their cattle in a truck at Heipang, in Barikin Ladi.

On Friday, two Berom children were killed in Arangai and Mangu Halle
villages in what appeared to be reprisal attacks.

Police spokesman Terna said there were more reprisals on Berom villages in
the Gashish area of Barikin Ladi which were “believed to have been carried
out by Fulani herdsmen”.

“This led to today’s violence,” he added.

Lamwakers earlier this month demanded that Buhari address worsening
security across the country, accusing police of failing to prevent the
violence.

On Sunday, Senate leader Bukola Saraki said the killings gave the
impression that Nigeria was “not safe”.

It was “important for Nigerians to start having the assurances that the
government is decisively responding to the current threat to lives and
property”, he said.

– Grazing dispute –

Separately, clashes erupted on Friday between Fulani herders and ethnic
Bachama farmers in Dowayan village, in the Demsa area of Adamawa state, in
northeast Nigeria.

Adamawa police spokesman Othman Abubakar told AFP: “Six people were killed
and seven others injured.

“The violence started when Bachama farmers prevented Fulani herdsmen from
grazing in a field outside the village. Clashes erupted as a result.

“The Bachama mobilised and burnt some Fulani settlements and the Fulani
went into Dowayan and burnt houses.”

Demsa and the nearby Numan area of Adamawa were the scene of deadly
clashes between herders and farmers that left scores dead last December.

Buhari has been accused of failing to act as he is also Muslim and Fulani.
His government has proposed setting up cattle ranches to prevent tensions
over grazing land.

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