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UN envoy warns on deadlier herders-farmers crises

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The frame of a burnt out motorcycle is seen in a house burned down by Fulani herdsman in the Ganaropp village in the Barikin Ladi area near Jos on June 27, 2018. Plateau State in Nigeria has seen days of violence where more than 200 people have been killed in clashes between Berom farmers and Fulani herders, Nigeria is facing an escalation in clashes between farmers and Fulani herders over land use and resources that is deepening along religious and ethnic lines. STEFAN HEUNIS / AFP

• Miyetti Allah denies plot to attack Cross River communities
• Gunmen kill three, injure many in Zamfara villages
• Troops arrest alleged masterminds of Chibok school raid

Conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria are becoming more sophisticated and deadlier, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has warned.“Violence between farmers and herders is increasingly a major security threat in the region and risks morphing into the terrorist attacks that have defined the security landscape,” he stressed.

Drawing particular attention to the Middle Belt, he said: “During four days in June, new spates of attacks and retribution killings between herders and farmers in this region resulted in scores of deaths.”Chambas, who is Head, UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), in a report presented to the Security Council, noted that in spite of gains by the Nigerian armed forces and the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin, Boko Haram remained active.

“The trend of Boko Haram using female suicide bombers continues. And reportedly, almost one in five suicide bombers is a child. The most recent attacks on a Nigerian military garrison in Yobe and the ambush of a military convoy in Borno are the latest manifestations of the threats still posed by Boko Haram.“There is a need for increased support to diplomatic, security and humanitarian responses to Boko Haram in a holistic manner. To this end, UNOWAS is providing technical support for a joint summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on July 30, as called for by Security Council resolution 2349 (2017).”

The envoy said challenges facing the Sahel region must be met with actions that combine politics, security and development, noting that the period under review saw an upsurge in popular discontent manifested through violent calls for political and economic reforms.

“Several countries continue to struggle with justice, national reconciliation and human rights challenges. Among those is the concerning number of high-profile arrests, judicial prosecutions and convictions against political and civil society actors. We must collectively continue to urge member states to provide an enabling environment for the exercise of the freedoms of expression and assembly, which are critical in consolidating democracy and good governance,” he said.He added that UNOWAS would closely monitor forthcoming elections in Nigeria, Mauritania and Senegal.

In the continuing orgy of violence, unknown gunmen have killed three people and injured many at Sikida and Gyaddu villages in Maradun Local Government Area of Zamfara State. The state’s police spokesman, Muhammad Shehu, said a team has already been mobilised to apprehend the perpetrators.And amid the tension, the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and members of the Yandan Elders’ Forum in Taraba State are trading blames over the spate of killings. Both, however, have pleaded with the government to deploy security operatives to troubled areas to quell the crisis.

Also, MACBAN debunked rumours that Fulani herdsmen were planning to attack the residents of Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State. Speaking in Calabar yesterday, chairman of the association, Hassan Abo, who described the rumour as “devilish and wicked,” said: “As an umbrella body of the breeders association, we want to state clearly that we are peace-loving people.”About the only good news was when Borno State Commissioner of Police Damian Chukwu announced the arrest of 22 suspected Boko Haram members including those who allegedly participated in the abduction of the Chibok girls.

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