From Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Forum on Farmer-Herder Relations in Nigeria (FFARN) has called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgent national security, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the recent attacks and killings in Plateau State.
FFARN, which is a network of academics, practitioners and selected policymakers with peace-building mandate had in a statement Thursday in Abuja, condemned the attacks on communities in Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bassa and Jos South Local Government Areas of Plateau State.
In one of their recommendations, the forum said: â€œThere is the need to arrest and prosecute persons from all sides involved in these criminal acts of violence to serve as deterrent and break the culture of impunity that has continued to embolden the attackers”.
According to FFARN, the recent attacks is beyond farmer-herder conflict, noting that embedded in this conflict is the question of criminality which is manifesting in the form of attacks on communities, killing and stealing of cattle, destruction of farmlands and similar criminal activities.
The Farmer-Herder Forum, which is convened by the Search for Common Ground, said the fact that acts of criminality of this nature go unpunished has continued to embolden criminals to act with impunity, which is becoming a major defining feature of their operations.
The group stressed that blurry lines between the conflict and criminal activities need proper investigation for effective delineation of the two and appropriate response.
Against this backdrop, FFARN recommend that Plateau state government work with the federal government to put in place sustainable structures that will address the underlying factors and drivers of the lingering conflict between farmers and herders in the state.
The Forum also said â€œan inclusive, all-people approach should be used to engage stakeholders to holistically address the drivers of the conflict.
â€œThe Plateau State government in concert with the federal government, development partners, civil society, traditional and religious leaders among others should invest more resources in prevention of violent conflicts, conflict transformation and peace-building as well as humanitarian response, post-conflict rehabilitation and recovery targeted at rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of the affected populations.â€
FFARN noted that the security of citizens was the primary purpose and responsibility of the government, and further called on the federal government to in the short term deploy appropriate security measures to address the growing trend of criminality in rural communities which is challenging stateâ€™s capacity to secure its citizens.
It therefor, advised that â€œsecurity and governance structure should be strengthened at the local level to address some of the push and pull factors of criminality embedded in the farmer-herder conflictsâ€.
FFARN with Search for Common Ground as the Convener, has a multi-sectoral membership which include: Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development (AAIPSD), Niger State; Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies, University of Jos; Centre for Ethno-Religious and Peace Studies, Federal University, Wukari, Taraba; Centre for Peace and Development Studies, Benue State University, Markudi; and Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ilorin;
Also included are: Conflict, Peace and Security Program, Department of Political Science, Kaduna State University; Institute for Peace Studies and Social Rehabilitation, University of Abuja; Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan; Veritas University, Abuja; Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR); Plateau Peacebuilding Agency; Kaduna State Peace Commission; Department of Partnership, Peace and Conflict Resolution (PPCR) National Commission for Nomadic Education; Peace and Conflict Management Unit, Nigeria security and Civil Defence Corps; and Centre for Women, Youth and Community Action (NAWYCA); and Civil Organisations Research Advocacy and Funding Initiatives Development (CORAFID).
Others are: Innovative Strategy for Human Development; Interfaith Mediation Center; Pastoralist Resolve (PARE); Peace and Security Network; Search for Common Ground (SFCG); Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP); Selected Independent Gender, Conflict Transformation and Peace-building Experts; and the Media partner-Global Sentinel.