Herder–farmer conflicts in Nigeria

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Herder–farmer conflicts in Nigeria usually involve disputes over land and/or cattle between herders (in particular the Fulani and Hausa) and farmers (for example the Adara, Tiv and Tarok). The most impacted states are those of the Nigerian Middle Belt like Benue, Taraba and Plateau.[1] 3,641 people have died in the clashes from 2015 to late 2018.[2]


Since the Fourth Nigerian Republic’s founding in 1999, farmer-herder violence has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.[3][4] 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;[5] population growth;[3] breakdown in traditional conflict resolution mechanisms of land and water disputes; and proliferation of small arms and crime in rural areas.[6] 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.[7]


According to the Global Terrorism Index, Fulani militants were the fourth deadliest terrorist group in 2014, using machine guns and attacks on villages to assault and intimidate farmers. After killing around 80 people in total from 2010 to 2013, they killed 1,229 in 2014. Most deaths occurred in the Nigerian Middle Belt, in particular in the states of Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba, which recorded 847 deaths. The state of Zamfara, in the northern belt, recorded 229 deaths. In addition to terrorist attacks, Fulani militants were also involved in non-state armed conflicts with groups from Eggon, Jukun and Tiv farming communities. These conflicts resulted in over 800 deaths by 2015.[8] The year 2016 saw further incidents in Agatu, Benue and Nimbo, Enugu State.[9][10]

In April 2018 Fulani gunmen killed 19 people during an attack on the church, afterwards they burnt dozens of nearby homes.[11] In June 2018, over 200 people were killed and 50 houses were burnt in clashes between farmers and Fulani cattle herders in Plateau State.[12][13][14] In October 2018, Fulani herdsmen killed at least 19 people in Bassa.[15] By 2018, over 2000 people were killed in those conflicts.[16][17] On 16 December 2018, Militants believed to be Fulani Herdsmen attacked a village in Jema'a, killing 15 people and injuring at least 24 others, the attack occurred at a wedding ceremony.[18][19]

There has been occurrences of retaliatory violence.[20] Critics and media have accused Fulanis of trying to Islamize the Middle Belt of Nigeria. Miyetti Allah stated that the June 2018 massacre was a response to killing of over 70 herders and theft of over 500 cows since April 2018.[21] Journalist Tunji Ajibade in a column in The Punch has accused the media of promoting ethnic hatred, by often attributing killings to Fulani herdsmen even when the police themselves haven't confirmed so or any suspect has been arrested. In contrast, ethnicities of attackers targeting Muslim or Fulani communities are often unidentified by the media despite being arrested.[22]

2019 Kaduna State massacre[edit]

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.[23] According to a governor the motive was to destroy specific communities.[24][25]

The Coalition Against Kajuru killings stated on March 18 that since then 130 people have been killed in a series of revenge attacks over the massacre announced by El-Rufai.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "KILLINGS IN BENUE, PLATEAU AND TARABA STATES". Archived from the original on 2015-07-27.
  2. ^ "Nigeria: Government failures fuel escalating conflict between farmers and herders as death toll nears 4,000".
  3. ^ a b "The Deadliest Conflict You've Never Heard of". The Foreign Policy. 23 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Farmer-Herder Conflicts on the Rise in Africa". ReliefWeb. 6 August 2018.
  5. ^ "How Climate Change Is Spurring Land Conflict in Nigeria". Time. 28 June 2018.
  6. ^ "My Land, Not Your Land. Farmer-Herder Wars in the Sahel". Foreign Affairs. 21 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Farmer-Herder Clashes Amplify Challenge for Beleaguered Nigerian Security". IPI Global Observatory. 16 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Global Terrorism Index 2015" (PDF). Institute for Economics and Peace. pp. 43–44.
  9. ^ Muslim Fulani Herdsmen Massacres Reach Southern Nigeria, Morning Star News. April 27, 2016
  10. ^ Fulani Herdsmen Massacre 40 Farmers in Enugu. Tori.ng; posted by Thandiubani on Tue 26th Apr, 2016
  11. ^ "Fresh bloodbath in Benue, 2 Catholic priests, 17 others killed by herdsmen".
  12. ^ "Plateau attacks: more than 200 killed in herdsmen-farmers clash — Quartz Africa".
  13. ^ "Communal clashes leave 86 dead in Nigeria". 25 June 2018 – via www.bbc.com.
  14. ^ Nigeria, Information (25 June 2018). "86 people killed and 50 houses burnt in fresh Fulani herdsmen attack in Plateau".
  15. ^ "Herdsmen kill 19 in Plateau midnight attack – Punch Newspapers".
  16. ^ siteadmin (9 April 2018). "Over 2000 Nigerians Killed In Farmers-Herdsmen Clashes Across Nigeria- Group". Sahara Reporters.
  17. ^ siteadmin (11 January 2018). "Benue State Buries 73 Killed By Fulani Herdsmen". Sahara Reporters.
  18. ^ "15 killed, 24 injured as gunmen attack Kaduna village". www.dailytrust.com.ng. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  19. ^ "Gunmen Kill 15, Injure 20 in Southern Kaduna". www.thisdaylive.com. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  20. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/25/world/africa/nigeria-herders-farmers.html
  21. ^ https://www.voanews.com/a/nigeria-s-fulani-say-they-are-being-vilified-for-violence/4463259.html
  22. ^ Smart voters, NBC’s sanctions, and ethnic bashing
  23. ^ "'How 66 people were killed in Kaduna in two days'". Premium Times. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  24. ^ "Miyetti Allah releases names of 131 victims of Kajuru, Kaduna violence - Premium Times Nigeria".
  25. ^ "'El- Rufai alleges plan to 'wipe out' some Kaduna communities". Premium Times. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  26. ^ Kajuru killings: Over 130 lives wasted – Group laments