Interior minister Abdulrahman Dambazau says Boko Haram insurgents are using the pastoralist/sedentary farmer conflict as a cover to terrorize Nigerians.
Dambazau made this claim while speaking at the opening ceremony of the “strategic stakeholders meeting on the pastoralist/sedentary farmer conflict in Nigeria” on Thursday in Abuja.
While insisting that there was a need to resolve the persistent crisis between farmers and herders, the Minister said apart from the insurgents, there were other opportunistic criminal angles to the conflict.
“Indications are also that there are opportunistic criminal angles to this conflict, in the nature of cattle-rustling, armed robbery and kidnapping.”
He said the conflict mostly happens in the Niger-Benue river basin area, adding that the conflict also spawns to the south-eastern and western Nigeria.
Dambazau who lamented that the conflict was among the issues of grave implication to Nigeria’s internal security, said the primary objective of the meeting was to understand the problems underlying the conflict and to develop strategies for solving it.
He added, “A further objective is to identify any laws and regulations that impact on the conflict. This will in turn inform a design of a definitive policy intervention, which will see multi-level, convergent action that will in turn lead to an abatement of this conflict.”
The Minister stressed that stakeholders should also consider the larger West and Central Africa region in arriving at an understanding of the Niger-Benue basin as an arena of conflict because pastoralists converge seasonally to graze their cattle in the area.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Bassey Akpanyung who spoke earlier, said it was high time something was done to end the farmers/herders conflict in the country which has claimed thousands of lives and property worth millions.
Stakeholders at the meeting were to also design a parameter for hosting a larger conference targeted towards proffering workable plans to end the conflict.