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Herder-farmers conflict: Embracing the Ganduje, Abounu solution | By Oludayo Tade

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Fielding questions from journalists in Katsina, recently, the Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, disclosed that his administration has been able to stem the tide of banditry by establishing a ranching culture in the state.

He said, “We are building a RUGA settlement in Samsosua forest, our border with Katsina, and we have succeeded in curtailing the effect of banditry in that area. So, we are building many houses, constructing a dam, establishing a cattle artificial insemination centre. We are establishing a veterinary clinic and already, we have started building houses for herdsmen.”

Ganduje advocated for the abolishment of nomadic herding which features the transportation or trekking of herdsmen from the north to the middle belt and southern part of Nigeria.

“There should be a law that will ban it, otherwise, we cannot control the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers and cannot control the cattle rustling which are affecting us greatly,” he said.

For Benue state deputy governor, Benson Abounu, Ganduje’s advocacy is worth embracing, adding that having seen it all, Ganduje, who was once a cattle rearer, is highly informed about the situation, and his recommendation of a law prohibiting nomadic grazing should be given a chance to bear fruits across the country.

There is no gainsaying Olayiwola Adeleke, the Chairman of the Igana Local Council Development Area (LCDA) and his constituency appreciates in no small measure, Governor Ganduje’s intervention and suggestions concerning the herdsmen-farmers conflict.

Not even Adeleke’s position as the chief security officer of Igana could earn him respect of preferential treatment when Fulani kidnappers accosted his vehicle and pounced on him. The beating he endured and humiliation he suffered in the hands of his assailants are better imagined.

According to him, “All of a sudden, we heard gun shots. These people came out from the bush with guns in their hands. They ordered us to open the door. They began to slap me and my driver, they beat us mercilessly. They were even shooting to scare people away. They are young boys. They are Fulani indigenes. They spoke Fulani language.”

On the heels of Adeleke’s travail, the chairman of the Ibarapa Northwest Local Government Area (LGA), Daniel Okediji, explained that the insecurity rocking Ibarapa metamorphosed from highway robbery to kidnapping.

He said, “Initially it was the case of Fulani herders attacking the farmers on their farms; when they destroy the farm, farmers would want to react but instead of them (fulani) pleading, some of them will start attacking the farmers with machetes.”

According to the International Crisis Group (ICG), escalated conflicts between farming communities and criminal herders are six times deadlier than Boko Haram Insurgency because of the number of civilian casualties.

Between 2010 and 2015, 850 violent clashes were recorded between farmers and herders in the middle belt region claiming the lives of 6,500 people and displacing 62, 000. In 2016 alone, ICG recorded 2,500 deaths arising from these violent clashes majority of the victims were from Benue and Kaduna and other southern States.

From 2018 when the crisis took a new dimension, an estimated 300,000 peoples have reportedly fled their homelands. As farmers flee their communities, criminal herders acquire their lands and settle.

Victims of kidnapping have also confirmed the identities of their abductors to be of Fulani extraction. Similar experiences of ‘terror’ by people of Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun led to the eviction of the Seriki of Fulani from the Igangan community in Oyo State, for allegedly aiding and abetting criminal Fulani herders and mediating payments of ransom to Fulani kidnappers.

The community claimed to have paid over N50million and lost over 15 people with many still nursing gunshot and machete wounds. Those who were kidnapped are still battling post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of their victims are female farmers, who were reportedly raped, while some have died in the process.

According to the Chairman of the Ibarapa Northwest, Okediji, “In one week, three persons were kidnapped. They collected N2million on the first victim, N3.5million on the second and N7.5million on the third.”

Sunday Oyebisi is another victim of farm plundering and violent attacks by Fulani herders. Oyebisi, who owned  30 acres of a cashew farm, suffered a raw deal in the hands of his assailants.

He said, “They will just drive the owner of the farm away and eat up (plunder) the farm. They have destroyed my 30-acre cashew farm and I reported to the police at Ayete but when Seriki Fulani got there, nothing was done to the case.”

The response of the State is rather slow and downplays the magnitude of the impending danger. The federal government, like some states preaches peaceful living without serving justice to the victims, many of whom accuse the federal government of pampering criminal herders thus emboldening other transnational criminal gangs of Fulani extraction to compromise national security and threaten food security.

The recent hike in food products is not unconnected with the insecurity being experienced by traders and the displacement of farmers from their homelands by Fulani herders. The food blockage from northern to southern Nigeria and the consequences of that action is also instructive, emphasising an urgent need for improved protection for farmers in order to guarantee food security and sustainability.

Adewale Moses, another victim of Fulani herders’ violence, said: “We can’t farm without anticipating attacks. One cannot send women to farm without them being raped.” May be this is why, James Olagbenro a traditional ruler in the affected area of Ibarapa maintained that the Fulani needs to leave the community for them to enjoy peace. This is by no means ethnic profiling. The association of criminal Fulani herdsmen with rape, farm plundering and kidnapping in southern Nigeria derives from the data extracted from victims of these crimes.

Unchecked invasion of farming communities and their displacement may create graver troubles for Nigeria. When farmers are chased off farms by Fulani herders and nothing is done to arrest them, the implication is that Nigeria cannot meet at least five of the Sustainable Development Goals and will not be able to feed her people. These are ‘no poverty,’ zero hunger, reducing inequality, sustainable cities and communities, peace, justice and strong institutions.

To resolve the conflict, experts have called for better management of the country’s security and intelligence system. There are increased calls for justice in dealing with reports and arrests of criminal herders.

Porous borders must be manned and movement of transnational herders controlled. In the southwest for instance, open grazing, child grazing among others have been banned in the wake of outrage and riots in Igangan and  Shasha, in Oyo State.

While northern governors explore practical initiatives like Ganduje’s RUGA settlement, Fulani herders have been urged to conduct their activities in line with the laws of their respective states.

Nigeria may also take a cue from Tanzania where government is tackling the conflict between peasant farmers and pastoralist communities by making land available for private commercial interests.

   

Dr Tade, sociologist and media expert sent this piece via [email protected]

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Saudi govt. executes three Soldiers for ‘high treason’

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Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed three soldiers for “high treason”, the defence ministry said.

The soldiers were found guilty of “the crime of high treason in cooperation with the enemy” in a way that threatens the kingdom and its military interests, the ministry said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The statement named the three soldiers — Mohammed bin Ahmed, Shaher bin Issa and Hamoud bin Ibrahim — without identifying who they were accused of colluding with.

The announcement comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 35-year-old heir to the throne, consolidates his grip on power and as a Saudi-led military campaign intensifies in neighbouring Yemen.

Prince Mohammed is already viewed as the country’s de facto ruler, controlling all the major levers of government, from defence to the economy.

He holds the title of defence minister, while his younger brother Prince Khalid bin Salman is the deputy.

Over the past three years, the crown prince has mounted a sweeping crackdown on critics and rivals, with the imprisonment of prominent royal family members, business tycoons, clerics and activists.

In March last year, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a brother of King Salman, and the monarch’s nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef were detained, multiple sources said, as the crown prince sought to stamp out traces of internal dissent.

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Saudi authorities have not publicly commented on their ongoing detention.

Riyadh led a military coalition into Yemen in March 2015 to prop up the internationally recognised government, but it has struggled to oust the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

It has also faced a surge in missile and drone attacks against the kingdom.

Fighting has also intensified for the key Yemeni region of Marib, with 53 pro-government and Huthi rebel fighters dead in the past 24 hours, loyalist military officials said Saturday.

The Huthis have been trying to seize oil-rich Marib, the government’s last significant pocket of territory in the north, since February.

 

 

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Ekiti monarch hospitalised after near-death gunmen attack

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Oba Adetutu Ajayi , the traditional ruler of Ewu Ekiti in Ilejemeje Local Government Area of Ekiti State has been hospitalised after he was shot by gunmen.

The monarch was shot Friday evening while in transit to a neighbouring town in Ido/Osi Local Government Area of the state.

It was learnt that the gunmen rained gunshots on the official car of the monarch but he narrowly escaped death. Oba Ajayi, has since been hospitalised.

The attack on the monarch comes barely 24 hours after gunmen invaded a petrol station at Isan Ekiti in the same local government area and abducted the manager of the station, Itakorodo Adebayo, after sporadic gunshots.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the State, Sunday Abutu who confirmed the attack, also assured that the police and other security outfits are determined to rid the state of criminal elements.

Abutu informed that the monarch is currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital as the police command has swung into action to unravel those behind the criminal act and bring them to book.

“Despite the rigorous joint patrol, raiding of blackspots and combing of bushes/forests comprising the Amotekun Corps, vigilante groups, local hunters, chiefs, drivers union, motorcycle riders, farmers and other stakeholders carried out simultaneously on Friday across the 16 local governments areas of the state, some unknown gunmen mischievously defiled the operation, came out and attacked the Elewu of Ewu Ekiti, Oba Ajayi while he was on transit between Ewu Ekiti and Ayetoro Ekiti at about 1900 hours.

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“The operation was aimed at dislodging and apprehending the miscreants in their hideouts as directed by the Ekiti State Commissioner of Police, Tunde Mobayo.

“The Commissioner of Police, while assuring the general public that the perpetrators will be brought to book, has pledged that the Police Command shall continue to work with relevant security outfits, ministries, stakeholders, and organizations to ensure that criminality is brought to zero across the state.

“The spirit of officers of the Command and other supporting agencies and groups still remain high as the operation still continues indefinitely to stamp out the bandits,” Abutu submitted.

 

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Education

Kogi: Student arrested with pistol, bullets on campus

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Shehu Mohammed, a student of the Kogi State Polytechnic has been arrested by the institution’s security operatives for being in possession of a locally fabricated revolver pistol.

Mohammed , a National Diploma II student of the Department of Public Administration of the institution, with matriculation number 2018/ND/PAD/170.

In addition to the illegal possession of the pistol, he was also apprehended with five rounds of live ammunition while making his way through the main entrance of the school on Friday.

The student, who was coming to the campus purportedly to write his ND II final examination, was accosted by a ‘stop and search’ officer who asked him to hand over his belongings.

He, however, took to his heels when he realised he would be caught with the live ammunition and has since been handed over to the appropriate law enforcement agency for further interrogation and investigation.

Reacting, the Rector of the polytechnic, Dr Salisu Usman, assured members of staff and students of the school that no stone would be left unturned in restoring sanity to the campus.

He also lauded  the security unit of the institution for a job well done , just as he appealed to members of the polytechnic community to always be on the side of the law.

Mohammed’s arrest followed the ban on end-of-examination celebrations by the school authorities in view of an intelligence report that suspected cultists planned to storm the campus with arms for reprisal after their colleague was killed following the examination in 2019.

This made the management of the school beef up security on the campus, including daily routine check at the polytechnic entrance and the premises.

On Thursday, the security operatives of the institution impounded a tricycle alleged to be used as a decoy for hiding arms and releasing gunshots outside the school gate.

Similarly, they arrested a non-student suspected to be hired machinery with a charm-made local bulletproof on Wednesday.

The suspect who has since been handed over to the law enforcement agency claimed he came to the campus to celebrate with his sister after completing her examination.

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