Boko Haram militants are taking advantage of the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers across the country to terrorize Nigerians under that guise, the Minister of Interior, retired Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, said yesterday.
Dambazau who spoke in Abuja at the opening ceremony of a stakeholders’ meeting on pastoralists/sedentary farmers’ conflict in Nigeria, said there was the need to resolve the persistent crises between farmers and herders, adding that apart from the menace of the militants, there were other opportunistic criminal angles to the conflict.
“Indications are that there are opportunistic criminal angles to the conflict in the nature of cattle-rustling, armed robbery and kidnapping,” he said.
The minister said the conflict occurs mostly in the Niger-Benue River Basin area, and spreads to the South-east and Western Nigeria.
He described the farmers/herders’ conflict as among issues of grave implication to Nigeria’s internal security, saying the primary objective of the meeting was to understand the problems underlying the conflict and develop strategies to curb it.
He added: “A further objective is to identify laws and regulations that impact on the conflict. This will in turn inform the design of a definitive policy intervention which will see multi-level, convergent action that will in turn lead to an abatement of this conflict.”
The minister stressed that stakeholders should also consider the larger West and Central African region in arriving at an understanding of the Niger-Benue Basin as an arena of conflict because pastoralists converge seasonally to graze their cattle in the area.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Bassey Akpanyung, said it was high time something was done to end the farmers/herders’ conflict which has claimed many lives and property worth millions of naira.
From the Daily Trust