Fulani Herdsmen Has Killed More Than Boko Haram, Says ICG
The International Crisis Group has said violence in Nigeria between cattle herders and farmers has killed around six times more people than deaths related to the Boko Haram insurgency in the first half of 2018.
This, the group stated in a statement on Thursday, posed a major threat to the country’s stability.
Reuters reported the think-tank as saying that the violence, which is concentrated in the Middle Belt and largely driven by competition over dwindling arable land amid a rapidly growing population, killed more than 1,300 people between January and June this year.
The ICG report added that security was a key challenge for President Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria fought the Islamist insurgency in the North-East and sought to quell the communal violence before an election in February next year in which he hoped to secure a second term.
“Violence related to grazing rights has occurred for decades but threatens Buhari’s popularity in swing states as herders are mainly from the Fulani ethnic group, as is the President.
“Deaths have been politicised as his critics say he has not cracked down on the nomads, which he has denied.
“Now claiming about six times more civilian lives than the Boko Haram insurgency, the conflict poses a grave threat to the country’s stability and unity, and it could affect the 2019 general elections,” said ICG in its report.
The think-tank quoted a United Nations official as saying that the Boko Haram insurgency, which, since 2009, has aimed to create an Islamic state in North-East, killed “over 200” people in the first six months of the year.
Buhari, a former military ruler, took office in 2015 after winning an election largely on his vow to improve security across the nation.
Troops and additional police officers have been deployed since the start of the year to improve security.
“The Federal Government has taken welcome but insufficient steps to halt the killings,” said ICG.
The report urged Buhari to “prosecute perpetrators of violence, disarm ethnic militias and local vigilantes, and begin executing long-term plans for comprehensive livestock sector reform.”
A spokesman for the President declined to comment on the report’s recommendations.
The violence has further stretched security forces already fighting Boko Haram insurgents who carry out gun raids and bombings in the North-East.
Boko Haram has been pushed out of most of the territories it held in the North-East in early 2015 but the militants still control an area in the Lake Chad region.
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