WEST AFRICA NETWORK FOR PEACEBUILDING
We the women focused civil society organizations convened by the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding Nigeria (WANEP- Nigeria), on behalf of its over 200 member organizations spread across the six geo-political zones wish to express deep concern at the on-going agro-pastoralist conflicts in the North Central zone and other parts of Nigeria. WANEP–Nigeria, a network established to provide an organized platform for collaborative peacebuilding in Nigeria by indigenous Non Governmental Oorganizations working in the area of conflict, peace and security, implores the government to take urgent action to halt the violent farmers/ herdsmen clashes that have led to wanton destruction of lives and properties.
On July 19, 2018, in solidarity with the people of Benue, Plateau and other parts of Nigeria experiencing herdsmen attack, WANEP –Nigeria organized a One- day Policy Dialogue with relevant stakeholders on “Promoting Women’s Involvement in Peace Processes in Nigeria”. The dialogue aimed to discuss the protracted agro- pastoralist conflict in Nigeria and provided a united front to deliberate on possible next steps on greater involvement of women in finding sustainable solutions to the situation.
It is no gainsay that violent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and agrarian communities in the North central and southern zones have escalated in recent years threatening the country’s security and stability. With an estimated death toll of over 3,000 people since 2016, these clashes are becoming as potentially dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east. The quest for territorial control of arable land for grazing activities, obstruction of traditional migration routes among other reasons, has led to destruction of farmlands and products. Revenge killings emanating from alleged theft/killing of livestock and sexual violence especially, rape of women and girls attributed to herdsmen, has thrown up new challenges to human security in the country. More alarming is the proliferation of small arms and light weapons resulting in high fatality and internal displacements.
Mirroring the Northern geopolitical zones, community early warning reports validated by media reports have recorded devastating impact of the Farmers and Fulani Herdsmen conflicts within Local Government Areas in Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Nassarawa, Zamfara and other affected states. Major highlight include the attack between January 1 – 8, 2018 in Logo and Guma Local Government Area of Benue State that left over 90 persons dead including pregnant women and children, with 56 others injured and more than 60,000 people displaced.
March 5, 2018 fresh attacks were recorded in in Okpoku Local Government Area, Benue State with over 24 persons killed and several others injured. Between June 22 and 24, 2018 resurgence of violence between the Beroms and Fulani herdsmen in villages spanning Barkin Ladi , Riyom and Jos South local government areas of Plateau State left over 100 people dead, 6 injured, 50 houses destroyed, 15 motorcycles and 20 vehicles vandalized/ completely burnt.
While we extend our condolences to the families of the victims, we express deep concern that these violent attacks if allowed to continue, food, peace and human security would be jeopardized, especially as the country intensifies preparation for the 2019 general elections.
The spill-over effect of the violent attacks has been witnessed in other states namely Edo, Delta, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Nassarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Taraba, etc. This has drawn attention to the fact that the agro- pastoralist conflict should be viewed as a national issue. The situation has so far attracted diverse reactions and consultations among varied interest groups who have called for an inclusive approach to addressing the conflict. Women who form the larger percentage of the vulnerable group affected by this violence through cases of rape, abduction and attacks reported across farming communities, should not be left behind but rather allowed to participate in the peace processes. This re- affirms the need for strong political will, commitment and resources for the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325.
We salute the courage and interventions of the Federal and State Governments as well as the efforts of the security agencies. However, we appeal to the government to implement strategies that are people- oriented and focused at promoting peace rather than intensifying fear among the people. We reaffirm that violent clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen will lead to food insecurity as farmlands are being destroyed and farmers are unable to go to farm. We say ‘No to killings and displacement’ as this translates to proliferation of small arms across states in the country. We stand united to say “No to conflict”, let us live together as one and build peace within our communities.
WANEP- Nigeria uses this platform to call for greater involvement of women in addressing the protracted violence between farming communities and Fulani herdsmen in Benue, Plateau and other states experiencing similar attacks in Nigeria.
- State actors to partner with women groups and women focused civil society organisations in addressing the underlying causes of conflict between farming communities and Fulani herdsmen in the affected states to find sustainable solutions.
- The security agencies such as the Police, the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies to coordinate activities towards providing an integrated security framework that promotes civil-security relationship to forestall further attack or crisis.
- State and Federal Government to set up an inter-ethnic dialogue forum with representatives of the different ethnic groups of the farmers and Fulani herdsmen to proffer solutions to the recurring agro-pastoralist conflict in the country.
- The development of an early warning and response mechanisms by relevant government agencies in partnership with civil society organizations, women’s groups, traditional and faith based institutions to proactively respond to causal factors of agro-pastoralist conflicts.
- The Federal Government and Development Partners should provide appropriate humanitarian assistance and adequate budgetary provisions to affected families including trauma healing and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) especially women and children.
- The Federal Government should partner with development partners to develop and adopt a National Policy that guides Internal Displaced Persons.
We cannot convey enough the urgency of this situation, as the number of casualties continues to rise in light of the ongoing violence. Together, We Stand United in the Call for Peace and Human Security!
July 19, 2018