At least 30 people have been killed in the recent violent clashes between Muslim herders and Christian farming communities in Nigeria’s central Plateau State. The conflict in Plateau State, which has a history of intercommunal violence, has resulted in the imposition of a 24-hour curfew in Mangu local district. Despite the curfew, attacks continue, leading to the destruction of schools, places of worship, and homes, with the Mwaghavul Development Association attributing the violence to Fulani Muslim herders and confirming the death toll. The conflict has caused the displacement of approximately 1,500 people, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the region.
A history of communal conflict
The conflict in Plateau State is rooted in the tensions over land between nomadic herders and indigenous farmers, and throughout the Middle Belt region, which serves as a dividing line between Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and mostly Christian south. The region is home to various ethnic minorities like the Mwaghavul, and the communal violence has been perpetuated by the effects of climate change and population rise. Reports indicate that farmers have had to organize self-defence vigilante groups to protect themselves from attacks by herders, and the conflict has been compounded by reprisal attacks and a broader web of criminality.
The situation has further deteriorated with heavily armed gangs, labeled as bandits, engaging in looting and kidnapping for ransom in the region. The conflict has also seeped into different parts of Nigeria, with tensions escalating following the attacks on mostly Christian villages over Christmas. The Jama’atu Nasril Islam, a Muslim community organization, has also called for intensified efforts by the government and security agencies to secure the lives and properties of the inhabitants, urging all concerned parties to prevent any potential escalation of the conflict.
In conclusion, the deadly herder violence in Nigeria’s Plateau State has led to a tragic loss of lives, displacement of people, and destruction of property. The conflict, deeply rooted in the tensions over land and exacerbated by broader criminality, calls for urgent intervention to address the underlying issues and prevent further escalation of violence in the region.
Find out more about our sources here.