Hundreds of lives have been lost in the incessant clashes between the farmers and the herders in the north-central part of Nigeria.
At least 579 people have been killed from January to June in clashes and reprisal attacks between farmers and herdsmen in four states alone, a Daily Trust check reveals.
The deaths come from four north-central states of Benue, Plateau, Kogi and Nasarawa.
Some 503 people, including farmers, a village head, two priests and several churchgoers and travellers were killed in attacks across the four states in the first six months of 2018.
In the same period, 76 herders were killed in attacks in Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau, including 25 by soldiers in Benue. No herder death was recorded in Kogi.
Only 98 cows were rustled—some killed, others wounded—all in Nasarawa alone in the first half of the year. And efforts to get security difficulties under control have not gibed with the public.
Public outrage over the killings demands that government take necessary steps to protect lives and properties. Media reports and comments by government officials and security agencies seem not to have transformed into action that would bring the violence to an end.
Available data on killings in the four states and other parts of the country is indicative of a dangerous state of insecurity in the country.
Days after the latest round of violence, public officials, including Senate president Bukola Saraki and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, have visited Plateau.
Former education minister Oby Ezekwesili went on a solo protest to the Aso Villa but was stopped by security. Up to 22,000 people have been displaced in the latest round of violence, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Nigerian Red Cross.
But estimates indicate the number of people displaced could be higher—and has been increasing over time as communities come under tension. Sources familiar with the area speak of entire villages along Birnin-Gwari axis between the states of Kaduna and Niger uprooting and leaving their homes after threats.
Several calls have been made to bring the perpetrators on both sides to book, and seek justice for the dead.
“You cannot bring back the lives, but finding and prosecuting the perpetrators will go a long way in helping to calm people and ease the pain that they are going through,” Saraki said during his visit.
“Therefore, yet again, we call on our security agents to ensure that they find the perpetrators that have done this and make them account for their detestable actions.”