Institute of Governance and Social Research (IGSR) in collaboration with the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) organized a Community Dialogue on the theme: “Addressing the Root Causes of Farmer-Herder Clashes and Other Crimes in Communities within Plateau Central Senatorial Zone”.
The program was a one-day event held in two batches, A and B, on the 30th and 31st of March, 2021. The venue was at the youth Center, Panskin Local Government Area. This program was carried out in adherence to health advisories on COVID-19 preventive measures.
The dialogue had a total of 210 (Two Hundred and Ten) participants in attendance from Plateau Central Senatorial Zone (Kanam, Kanke, Pankshin, Mangu and Bokkos).
Some of the participants in attendance include Traditional Leaders (District Heads and Ward Heads), Community Leaders (Ethnic and Group leaders), Security Agencies (Police, NSCDC, Operation Rainbow, DSS, NDLEA, etc.), Media (PRTV and Tin City), Professional Associations (such as Lawyers, Doctors, etc.), Women Leaders, Youth Leaders, Religious Groups (JNI and CAN), CSOs, Academia’s, Government Representatives, Vigilante Groups (PCRC, VGN and NHW, etc.) and Youth Peace Ambassadors.
The community dialogue was moderated by Dr. Gideon Gwimbe Barde, a former Press Secretary to Governor J.D Gomwalk and Abdullahi Mohammed and one time Hon. Commissioner, Second republic (1979-1983).
The core objective of the community dialogue was to analyze the underlying factors responsible for the increase in farmer-herder clashes and other crimes in Plateau Central. More specifically, the community dialogue seeks to; encourage the face-to-face exchange of information among community members in order to foster mutual understanding and harmony, encourage diverse ethnic, religious and/or social groups to work on their difference in a non-violent way, increase community-driven actions towards the prevention of violent conflicts and engage community members in a process to enhance awareness-raising, sensitization and collaborative problem-solving in order to address specific issues of concern in their communities.
During the Dialogue participants were given opportunities to voice out their opinions, brainstorm and exchange ideas as well as learn from each other, they had different opinions on the Root Causes of Farmer-Herder Conflicts and Other Crimes in the Communities, some of the observations, resolutions and recommendations were made as follows:
Some of the causes of Farmer-Herder conflict identified include:
- Destruction of farmers’ crops by the herders.
- Population expansion has led to blockage of routes previously used by the herders and this has led the herders to open up new routes which often lead to conflict.
- Bush burning by local hunters or villagers provokes the herders as it rids their animals of food.
- Biased reporting by journalists either escalating or misreporting issues relating to farmers and herders.
- Ethnic and religious intolerance between the different groups.
- Underage or juvenile herders are left alone to steer a herd of cattle.
- Illiteracy is a major concern among farmers and herders.
- Delayed justice by the judiciary leaves persons to take laws into their hands.
- The influx of strangers without the knowledge of indigenes poses a huge threat to security in communities.
The resolutions made were:
- Farmers and herders should work together to define grazing routes and plow areas.
- Government should make laws to stop underage or juvenile herders.
- Religious leaders should preach messages of love and peace without prejudice.
- Security Agencies should be sincere and prompt in responding to complaints.
- The ban on proliferation of arms and light weapons should be enforced by the Security Agencies
- Religious and ethnic tolerance should be promoted by parents, teachers, religious leaders and the media.
- The government should address the issue of porous borders.
Recommendations made were as follows:
- Government should create more jobs for the youths to prevent them from participating in criminal activities.
- Traditional rulers should put partisanship and partiality aside to dispense justice to their subjects.
- Open grazing has become outdated and is capable of leading to an increase in conflict. Ranching should be adopted as an alternative to open grazing.
- The populace must learn to hold the government accountable for their actions and inactions.
- The stakeholders from the various communities should speak through their traditional rulers in order to harmonize and prioritize community needs. Stakeholders must awaken to their responsibilities.
- There must be sharing of information between ethnic and religious groups in order for the relevant authorities to act on information that is critical in maintaining peace and order.
At the end of the community dialogue, a communiqué was drafted, adopted and signed on behalf of the participants by representatives of the five LGAs on the 30th and 31st of March, 2021.