Kano State, Nigeria
Media Source: Agence France-Presse
KANO, Nigeria – Rural communities in Taraba state, eastern Nigeria, were on Friday on indefinite lockdown as the authorities tried to contain mounting violence between cattle herders and farmers.
Police spokesman David Misal said a round-the-clock curfew has been imposed in affected areas “due to the escalation of violence between Fulani and Mambilla ethnic groups”.
Nigeria has been gripped since the start of the year with an increase in clashes between the largely nomadic herders and farmers over land, water and grazing rights.
At least 10 people were killed in several days of violence in Taraba last week into the weekend, while some 24 lost their lives in the central state of Benue in the last few days.
Misal said there were reports that the violence was spreading but gave no further details.
“The government, after consultation with security agencies, finds it necessary to impose a curfew in order to allow security operatives to restore peace,” he told AFP.
“From Wednesday, residents in (the affected areas) have been ordered to remain indoors day and night indefinitely until the security situation is reviewed.”
The Mambilla area of Taraba lies on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon and is a herding and farming hub reputed for fertile land, lush vegetation and abundant water.
Tensions have been running high for many years between herders and farmers over increasingly precious resources.
Last year, the cattle herders union claimed more than 700 people were killed in the violence, although the authorities gave a much lower death toll.
The herders are Muslim and the farmers are largely Christian, which adds an ethnic and religious dimension to the tensions. Many herders have fled to northern Cameroon.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who is under pressure to quell the violence, this week visited Taraba’s capital, Jalingo, and met representatives from both sides.
He said the government was “fully committed” to resolving the issue and vowed that anyone involved in the violence would be investigated and prosecuted.
Extra troops have been sent to Taraba as part of a military plan to crack down on those behind the violence.