From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, has ordered the deployment of troops to stop frequent clashes in states between Fulani herdsmen and farmers.
For now, the troops have only been to Agatu local government in Benue State.
Fulani herdsmen and farmers’ clash in Agatu has seen some communities completely wiped out while others, who managed to escape, are now living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.
His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who spoke on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily yesterday, said the deployment was part of measures to end conflicts that had claimed several lives as well as affected farming activities in the states.
According to Shehu, there is a plan to map out grazing areas which had been presented to the governors of the states.
“The president took the matter to the National Council of State where the governors sit with the Vice President to solve problems of security.
“Their decision was that they will go back to all the ideas that had been there before, which is to carve out grazing reserves for cattle rearers.
“With that, there will be a clear difference between farmlands and grazing land. Because, it is when cattle are driven into farmlands that cause the trouble.
“The president has also ordered for military presence in those places in order that this kind of hostilities do not continue.
“As a long-term policy, ranching will be there but do not forget that ranching also has its challenges in so many ways.
“I know that the president has ordered for the deployment of Army to those places.
“The communities are also involved in discussion.”
The deployment, said the presidential spokesman, had been done.
Shehu said based on reports from the Defence Headquarters, the troops have been deployed and are already making a difference in the affected states.
Asked if more consultation would be done against the backdrop of Nigerians kicking against the grazing bill, the presidential media aide promised to get back with more information.
The Ministry of Interior, in a bid to end the incessant conflict had convened a stakeholders’ meeting to try to find a lasting solution to the herdsmen/farmers conflict.
Interior Minister, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd.), had said at the inaugural meeting that the federal government was considering a definitive policy that will involve all stakeholders and security agents to tackle the lingering conflict between pastoralists and farmers.
The conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and farmers been ongoing since 2012 but escalated in the Agatu area of Benue State in particular, leaving hundreds dead, many houses burnt and farmlands destroyed.
At a stakeholders meeting called by the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, last month, in Benue, the Fulani community in the state alleged that the crisis started after 10,000 cattle belonging to its members were allegedly killed by the Agatu people.
Both sides had said criminal elements from both sides escalated the crisis despite the quick intervention of the governor.