A NEW report on deadly conflicts in Nigeria’s Northwest has revealed that violence is responsible for the death of over 8,000 people since 2011 and displacement of over 200,000, some into the neighbouring Niger Republic.
“Violence has had a far-reaching humanitarian and economic impact on the region and created a domino effect of security problems,” said International Crisis Group in its latest report, Violence in Nigeria’s Northwest: Rolling Back the Mayhem.
“Over the last decade, more than 8,000 people have been killed – mainly in Zamfara State – with over 200,000 internally displaced and about 60,000 fleeing into the Niger Republic.”
According to the report, the Northwest is said to be suffering deadly conflict involving many armed organisations, including herder-allied groups, vigilantes, criminal gangs and jihadists.
It noted that violence is rooted in competition over resources between predominantly Fulani herders and mostly Hausa farmers.
The Brussels-based organisation in the report indicated that livestock and crops have been decimated, further depressing human livelihood indices that were already the lowest in the country.
The violence, it stated was aggravating other security challenges forcing more herders southward into the country’s Middle Belt, thus increasing herder farmer tension in that region and beyond.
It identified Zamfara as the origin of this conflict where gang violence took its roots and has since spread violence to five other nearby states, namely Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger, the last of which is in North Central Nigeria.
The report says a durable peace remains elusive despite several security operations and dialogue efforts.
According to the International Crisis Group, the conflict has escalated amid a boom in organised crime, including cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom and village raids noting that Jihadist groups were stepping in to take advantage of the security crisis.
It stressed that the federal and state governments should facilitate settlements between farmers and herders – easing friction by reforming livestock production.
“They should cooperate with Niger to stem cross-border flows of weapons and jihadists, as well as to better police lawless forests and gold mining areas. International partners should help address humanitarian needs,” the group said.