Senator Gyang Dantong
Clashes between nomadic Fulani herdsmen and indigenous communities in various states of the federation are a common occurence in Nigeria. Hundreds of people have been killed during such clashes, which have also led to the destruction of millions of property.
In one of such clashes in July last year in Plateau State, some 200 persons, including Senator Gyang Dantong, were killed in Matse and Kakuru villages. Dantong and others were attacked during a funeral for some people killed earlier by the Fulani.
The sources of conflict are usually over where the cattle belonging to Fulani herdsmen should graze and allegation of cattle rustling. All efforts by government at various levels so far to check the incident have yielded little results.
In the latest incident in what is turning out to be a growing national malady, Gbagyi farmers and the Fulani clashed last week over encroachment of the herdsmen on farmlands. Two people were confirmed dead, five wounded and 1,500 people displaced within 27 affected communities in Gwako town of Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Some of the displaced people have been given temporary shelter at a camp established for them at the permanent campus of the University of Abuja in Gwagwalada area.
However, two groups, the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA) and the Alliance for Credible Election (ACE) have called on government to show the will to find a permanent solution to the recurring clashes. They urged the authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and security agencies to work with other stakeholders to end the crisis.
The groups in a joint statement yesterday by OIDA President, Pastor Danladi Jeji, and ACE Secretary General, Mr. Emma Ezazu, commended the concerned authorities for their swift response to douse the crisis and restore normalcy in the affected areas.
FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, had in response to the clashes, inaugurated a 15-man investigation panel, headed by the FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adenrele Shinaba, to look into the remote causes of the clashes.
The groups, however, expressed "hope that the committee will do a thorough job in its assignment by genuinely recommending what should be done to solve the perennial problem of Fulani herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in the FCT”.
“While we await the one-week deadline given to the investigation committee, we urge the committee to be transparent and fair to all parties involved in the crisis by holding sessions openly and receiving input from all interested parties,” the statement added.
The groups commended Mohammed and the FCTA over a plan to set up a new grazing reserve for Fulani herdsmen in the FCT, describing it as a good development if handled well.
“We urge the government to ensure that the location of the grazing reserve is well located in FCT.
“We also warn that political office holders and government officials should not use this opportunity to carve out lands for themselves in the name of having grazing reserve. This will be vehemently resisted by OIDA and ACE," the statement said.
The groups also advised that the issue of compensation, resettlement and integration of original inhabitants in FCT should not be crisis-driven, and should be done in a comprehensive manner.
“The government should not wait until another crisis breaks out in the territory before this fundamental question is resolved,” the statement stressed.
“While we eagerly await the recommendations of the investigation committee, we hereby appeal to both communities to remain calm and peaceful while government finds lasting solution.
“We also use this medium to warn religious and tribal zealots to stay away from making FCT another centre of ethno-religious crisis,” the groups added.