Concerns Over Influx Of Herders To Kogi, Nasarawa, FCT Others

Concerns Over Influx Of Herders To Kogi, Nasarawa, FCT Others

Joel Ajayi

Palpable fear has enveloped residents of parts of the North-central zone, following invasion of some communities by herdsmen.

The influx of these groups who are supposedly Fulani herdsmen expelled from South-west states and few other communities of Kogi, Nassarawa, FCT, Niger and some other states recently is causing serious anxiety among the residents, thereby has raised calls for serious caution.

The new arrivals are believed to have moved into the North-central states following their ‘expulsion’ from some South-west states.

Fulani cattle herders were accused of perpetrating kidnappings and other violent crimes in the area.

Going by stories surrounding the activities of these cattle herders in their areas of former abode, the tension between Fulani herdsmen and farming communities has existed for many years. There has been a dramatic increase in recent times to include many more attacks.

The ‘Fulani militia’, as they have come to be known, is made up of members of the Fulani or Fula ethnic group, a tribe of over 20 million people, 70 percent of whom are nomadic grazers, who are native to at least seven West African countries.

Reports have it that between 2010 and 2021 Fulani militants allegedly have killed many people. Benue, Ondo, Taraba, Oyo, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, and Katsina states have been the worst hit of late having suffered devastating attacks by the Fulani herdsmen with a heavy toll on human lives and property.

Most worrisome is the brutality and impunity with which the assailants operate without regard for the law and the sanctity of life. The Nigerian police and even the military seem powerless to defend the victims from being mercilessly slaughtered in their homes.

The herders’ relocation arose from the ban on night grazing across the South-west, the quit order from government forest reserves in Ondo State, and the campaign against criminal herders in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State.

The brutality and impunity with which the muggers operate without regard for the law of the land is terrible, prompting the South-west states to issue the ban on open grazing, thus generating controversies among Nigerians.

Before then, South-east governors have echoed that, the zone has no portion of land in the region for the Ruga Fulani herdsmen settlement.

AljazirahNigeria gathered that over 4,000 herders have relocated from South to North because of the fears.

However, there are two sides of the coin. Just as one region is a bit relieved of the heavy presence of the herders, another is busy lamenting the implications of their influx as states like Kogi, Niger Nasarawa and FCT are swelling with heavy presence of Fulani herders in their domains.

AljazirahNigeria observed the trooping of Fulani into the state like Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Benue and the Federal Capital Territory.

Findings revealed that the herders who were seen along the Abuja-Keffi; Abuja-Lokoja expressways and Suleja axis have started erecting structures and clearing bushes around the major roads to build their houses while many had settled down, thereby creating fears among the people.

A short trip along Abuja-Keffi expressway is an attestation to the fact that there was a serious influx of Fulani to Nasarawa State as Fulani and their cows were seen in large numbers along the roads.

Also, traveling along Abuja-Lokoja expressway one needs no soothsayer to tell that there is a heavy influx of the Fulani to the state.

Niger State is another North-central state that is in the eye of the storm. In the past one year, the ‘power state’ has not known peace as a result of the influx of banditry to the state.

FCT was not spared AljazirahNigeria reported that people were kidnapped every week; a situation that caused more uneasiness among the resident of the city. The fear, however, increased as the resident sited the inflow of herdsmen from the South-west.

Benue State at a time was adjudged, though unverified, to be the worst victim of the herders’ assault. Report showed that no fewer than 300 people were killed following a series of attacks launched by Fulani herdsmen in the state, several villages were razed by fire, with the decomposing remains lying in sight.

The number of internally displaced persons is also on the rise in these communities as people desert their homes for neighboring towns.

We Don’t Know Our Fate, Residents Jittery

The residents said the presence of the herdsmen around their community has become a source of concern for them, alleging that within a few days they relocated to the area, the herders allow their cattle to move freely without proper guidance by the herders.

Residents of the affected areas according to investigation are currently taking stock of their security arrangements with a view to checking any threat to life and property following the relocation of herders to the localities while many fear that the development would reenact their past bad experience with herders.

AljazirahNigeria gathered that residents in the affected areas have been living with fear while some who have relatives in a safe place have relocated to escape being attacked.

As for Ayansina Odunayo who lived in Polosa a Suleja suburb in Niger State, he said the number of cows and the herders is increasing on a daily basis: “We can no longer sleep well in the night, though they are yet to attack anyone but their heavy presence is giving us sleepless nights.

“It’s getting too much, as you can see about 3 of my neighbors who have families in town have relocated to town but I don’t have anyone, I only bank on God. “My appeal goes to the Federal Government and the state government to help us move security agencies to our area to salvage the situation, for now, we are helpless”, he said.

As for Mr Patrick Nwogwugwu, a resident of Bako community along Abuja-Lokoja expressway said the influx of herders to his area now is second to none.  “I saw their cows grazing on my farm and I wanted to chase at them. The next thing I noticed was that the herders were moving in my direction.

“I had to quickly hop on my bike before they tried anything. As we speak, I am yet to harvest my cassava from the farm because fear could not let me go to that farm since last week”.

As for Ziba Monphery who resides in Auta-Balefi village along Abuja-Keffi expressway he said relocation of the herders to the community has murdered sleep for the dwellers of the community as no one can have even a four-hour sleep in the night because of the fear of being attack.

Another woman Mrs. Ruth Jiya who lived in Bwari disturbed by the same situation, calling on the government to assist them and strengthen security in their communities.

“These things have been happening, but we have nobody to complain to. Who will assist us aside from the police who are not empowered”,  she lamented.

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