What Is The History Of Fulani Herdsmen And Farmers Clashes In Nigeria?

JEROME MICHAEL EBRUPHIYO Friday, November 26, 2021 News



This article will provide information on the history of Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria and also provide answers to questions as regards to the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria.

What is the meaning of Fulani?

Fulani is an ethnic group who are mostly shepherds and cattle herders. They are rural or pastoral, and they migrate from one area to another. They are mostly Muslims who speak the Hausa language. Over 30 million Fulani people are living in the northern states of Nigeria.

Brief History of the Fulani Herdsmen

Much of Nigeria was under British colonial rule before Nigerian independence. Fulani herders established friendly relationships with community members, and they shared culture and ideology by sharing resources such as land and water. Strong social networks between the Fulani herders and local cattle dealers, politicians, and landowners were established. However, migration routes and grazing zones were not protected for the Fulani herders, and the herders often had conflicts over land allocation. The most impacted states in Nigeria, such as Benue, Taraba, and Plateau were slow to develop. Fulani herders established various forms of interactions with local farmers. Herders and farmers violence was mainly because of the increased need of herders to access grazing lands and farmers who tried to prevent the Fulani herders from coming to their lands. Since the Fourth Nigerian Republic was founded in 1999, many people were killed in the Fulani-farmer violence due to an expansion of the agriculturist population and deteriorating environmental conditions. Insecurity and violence have led many people to create self-defense forces and militias, and they participated in further violence, especially between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian farmers. Recently, Christian leaders in Nigeria claimed that 6,000 people were killed at the beginning of this year by the Muslim Fulani group, and the majority of people who were murdered are women and children. The frequent attacks on the Nigeria farmers weakened the communities’ growth. According to the International Crisis Group, the conflict between Nigerian farmers and herders killed at least 1,300 people in the first half of 2018. Since the beginning of 2018, more than 18 people from Benue State were killed, and thousands of people were displaced because of attacks. Also, people living in the Southern region were impacted by the Boko Haram insurgency. Government’s failure to handle the insurgency quickly caused social instability and pressure. Fulani pastoralists started migrating into northern Nigeria from the Senegambia region around the thirteenth or fourteenth century. After the Uthman dan Fodio jihad, the Fulani became integrated into the Hausa culture of Northern Nigeria. Thereafter, during the dry season when the tsetse fly population is reduced, Fulani pastoralists began to drive their cattle into the Middle Belt zone dominated by non-Hausa groups, returning to the north at the onset of the rainy season. But while managing the herd and driving cattle, cattle grazing on farmlands sometimes occurs, leading to destruction of crops and becoming a source of conflict. Nigeria's implementation of the land use act of 1978 allowed the state or federal government the right to assign and lease land and also gave indigenes the right to apply and be given a certificate of occupancy to claim ownership of their ancestral lands. This placed the pastoral Fulani in a difficult position because most did not apply for lands of occupancy of their grazing routes, and recurring transhumance movement led to encroachment on the properties of others. The Nigeria government designed some areas as grazing routes but this has not reduced clashes. From 1996 to 2006 about 121 people lost their lives in Bauchi and Gombe states as a result of conflicts between pastoralists and farmers. Thousands of people have been killed since 2016 in clashes between farmers and semi-nomadic herders.

What is the Main Reason behind the Farmers and Fulani Herdsmen Clash in Nigeria?

Also called Fulani Herdsmen terrorism, Herder-farmer conflicts in Nigeria have mainly involved disputes over land resources between mostly Muslim Fulani herders and mostly Christian farmers across Nigeria but more devastating in the Middle Belt (North Central) since the return of democracy in 1999. But most recently, it has deteriorated into terror attacks on farmers by Fulani Herdsmen - the fourth most deadly terrorist group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index. Attacks have also taken place in the northwest Nigeria against farmers who are mainly Hausa people. While the conflict has underlying economic and environmental reasons, it has also acquired religious and ethnic dimensions. Thousands of people have died since these attacks began. Sedentary farming rural communities are often target of attacks because of their vulnerability. There are fears that this conflict will spread to other West African countries but this has often been downplayed by governments in the region. Attacks on herders have also led them to retaliating by attacking other communities. Since the Fourth Nigerian Republic’s founding in 1999, farmer-herder violence has killed more than 19,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. It followed a trend in the increase of farmer-herder conflicts throughout much of the western Sahel, due to an expansion of agriculturist population and cultivated land at the expense of pasturelands; deteriorating environmental conditions, desertification and soil degradation; population growth; breakdown in traditional conflict resolution mechanisms of land and water disputes; and proliferation of small arms and crime in rural areas. Insecurity and violence have led many populations to create self-defence forces and ethnic and tribal militias, which have engaged in further violence. The majority of farmer-herder clashes have occurred between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian farmers, exacerbating ethnoreligious hostilities. Conflicts between farmers and herders can be understood as a problem of access to land. The beginning of the 21st century witnessed an expansion of the agriculturist population and its cultivated land at the expense of pasturelands in the Middle Belt. In an already politically unstable region, it has never always been possible to ascertain a legal title to land for every farmer. As a result, transhumance routes of herders were no longer available, especially in a context of global warming. The farmer/herder conflicts have been taking place in regions which have been unstable since the 2000s. Urban conflicts in Jos and Kaduna have been particularly violent and, despite violent clashes with the authorities, their causes have never been addressed politically. Conflicts might not have been addressed adequately because traditional authorities have not been fulfilling their role in colonial-era settlements.

List Of Attacks of the Fulani Herdsmen on Farmers in Nigeria

Despite the high number of attacks, Nigerian and foreign journalists have rarely access to first-hand testimonies and tend to report inaccurate figures. According to the Global Terrorism Index, these conflicts resulted in over 800 deaths by 2015. Here are some of the list of attacks unleached by the fulani herdsmen on farmers.
  • The year 2016 saw further incidents in Agatu, Benue and Nimbo, Enugu State
  • In April 2018 Fulani gunmen allegedly killed 19 people during an attack on the church, afterwards they burnt dozens of nearby homes
  • In June 2018, over 200 people were killed and 50 houses were burnt in clashes between farmers and Fulani cattle herders in Plateau State
  • In July 2018, a clash erupted between the Fulani settlers and the Yandang community in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State. About 73 people were killed and 50 villages were razed
  • In October 2018, Fulani herdsmen killed at least 19 people in Bassa
  • On 16 December 2018, militants believed to be Fulani herdsmen attacked a village in Jena'a, killing 15 people and injuring at least 24 others, the attack occurred at a wedding ceremony
  • On 11 February 2019, an attack on an Adara settlement named Ungwar Bardi by suspected Fulani gunmen killed 11. Reprisal attack by Adara targeted settlements of the Fulani killing at least 141 people with 65 missing. The attacks took place in Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State
  • The Coalition Against Kajuru killings stated on 18 March 2019 that 130 people have been killed in a series of revenge attacks since the massacre announced by El-Rufai
  • In January 2018 about 10 persons were killed in an attack and reprisal involving herders and local farmers in Numan local council of Adamawa State
  • In May 2018 over 400 herdsmen attacked four villages of Lamurde, Bang, Bolk, Zumoso and Gon in Numan and Lamurde local councils of Adamawa State killing 15 people
  • 21 people were killed by herdsmen in a village in Demsa local government area of Adamawa State
  • 32 Christians were murdered by Muslim Fulani herdsmen
  • What Efforts Has Been Made to Resolve this Conflict Betweem Farmers and Herdsmen in Nigeria?

    The Nigerian government has been unwilling to address the causes of the crisis. Fighting Boko Haram in the North-East and facing rising levels of violence in different regions of the country, the government has nonetheless tried to implement a few measures. Since 2012, there have been projects to create transhumance corridors through the Middle Belt. Mostly supported by Northern lawmakers and opposed by their Southern counterparts, these endeavours have been rarely successful. In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari tried to create Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements. His proposal was met with fierce criticism. On 17 May 2021, the 17 Southern governors in Nigeria issued Asaba Declaration aimed at solving the crisis.

    What are the causes of herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria?

    In June 2018, over 200 people were killed and 50 houses were burnt in clashes between farmers and Fulani cattle herders in Plateau State. In July 2018, a clash erupted between the Fulani settlers and the Yandang community in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State.

    What are the causes of farmers herders conflict?

    The causes of such conflict were destruction of crops, contamination of streams by cattle, zero grazing of land, disregard for local traditional authorities, female harassment, harassment of nomads by host communities youths, indiscriminate bush burning, defecation of cattle on roads, cattle theft, and so on.

    When did Fulani herdsmen start?

    Nigeria. Fulani pastoralists started migrating into northern Nigeria from the Senegambia region around the thirteenth or fourteenth century. After the Uthman dan Fodio jihad, the Fulani became integrated into the Hausa culture of Northern Nigeria.

    How is the Fulani herdsmen crisis affecting food production in Nigeria?

    Impacts of Fulani herdsmen-farmers' conflicts as revealed by the study included loss of crops, reduced productivity, loss of lives, increase in prices of agricultural products, increased poverty etc

    What were the reasons of conflict between animal herders and farmers of Mari?

    Some communities in the kingdom of Mari had both farmers and pastoralists. Most of its territory was used for pasturing sheep and goats. Exchange of materials was the norm between herders and farmers. But access or denial of access to water resources often led to conflict between herders and farmers

    Where is Fulani?

    Fulani, also called Peul or Fulbe, a primarily Muslim people scattered throughout many parts of West Africa, from Lake Chad, in the east, to the Atlantic coast. They are concentrated principally in Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, and Niger.

    When did Fulani come to Nigeria?

    The Fulani, a people of obscure origins, expanded eastward from Futa Toro in Lower Senegal in the 14th century. By the 16th century they had established themselves at Macina (upstream from the Niger Bend) and were proceeding eastward into Hausaland.

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