Nigerians must fight the anti-terrorism war as one

…As Benue, Plateau top states with most attacks

By Dirisu Yakubu

Nigeria has lost no fewer than 8, 343 persons to farmers-herders conflict since 2005, according to findings by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, ACLED.

ACLED which commenced data collection and analyses in Nigeria in 1997 noted that the casualties were a result of 1,350 attacks spread across 16 states of the federation.

This was disclosed at a zoom workshop on Monday, organised by Chikezie Omeje, a data and science journalist as part of his Davis Projects for Peace.

According to ACLED report, Benue topped the states with most violent attacks, closely followed by Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba and Nasarawa in that order. The report which covered 2005 to date, put the number of killings in Benue at 2, 539 from 303 attacks, while Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba and Nasarawa lost 2,138, 1,188, 755, 521 lives in 279, 160, 111 and 93 attacks respectively.

Others states captured in the report include Adamawa, Katsina, Zamfara, Niger, Kogi and Ogun states.

Addressing participants, Omeje tasked journalists, particularly those reporting the conflict beat to be armed with data knowledge, adding that same would facilitate better understanding of issues, causes and possible solutions.

“Violence can be sustainably prevented or reduced if there is an improved awareness of the magnitude and negative impact of the conflict. Violence can reduce if solutions being taken by communities to maintain peace are reported. Peace building efforts can be enhanced if the stakeholders have better understanding of the conflict dynamics,” he stressed.

Still on data-driven conflict reporting, Omeje noted that “without robust and granular data, improved understanding of farmer-herder conflict dynamics is difficult,” even as he pointed out that “if data on the patterns and trends of the conflict risk factors are linked with good storytelling, a positive impact can be made for peace and security at the communities that have faced these persistent and vicious cycle. Without data, it becomes difficult to analyze the conflict, in terms of trends and other factors.”

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Although, various communities in Benue have been epicentres of violent conflicts in recent years, the report commended the Otukpo model which has seen farmers co-exist peacefully with herders with little or no report of attacks.

This, Omeje attributed to an agreement reached by both parties to go about their businesses without molestation. In Otukpo, “herdsmen reach agreements with landowners who allocated plots of land for cattle to feed on; they have livestock guards who lead the herdsmen as they go to feed their cattle. They hold meetings every month where they discuss issues affecting them. The herdsmen serve as security in their settlement and other parts of Otukpo,” the report stated.

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