From Tom Garba, Yola
Conflict between farmers and herders has become vicious in Nigeria due to government’s over-reliance on the military in addressing conflicts, a non-government organisation (NGO), Search for Common Ground, has claimed.
Search For Common Ground, an NGO working to end violent conflicts around the globe also urged the Federal government to take transformative steps in ending the incessant violent conflicts between farmers and herders, in Plateau State.
The group observed that although the use of military by the Nigerian government to halt the killings of civilian lives is good, it cautioned that the federal government’s over-dependence on the military as a strategy in curbing these conflicts, “is contributing to a militarized society that is further continuing the vicious cycle of violence.”
Bukola Adelehin, Conflict Analysts, Search for Common Ground, who gave the position of the group, urged the Federal Government to unravel the causes of conflicts between herders and farmers which it said has become very vicious in recent times, in its response to the death of 29 persons who were killed, Bassa local government area of Plateau State.
Adelehin spoke at the completion of training for 106 Community Observers and Mobilizers, on Early Warning and Early Response Mechanism (EWER) being developed by the organisation, for Borno and Adamawa State on Wednesday, in Yola.
She said: “The Nigerian government believes so much in military response. Military use is good, if it is to halt the killing of civilians. But the consequences are many. In Plateau State, the special task force is about 10 years old. However, in many of the cases (attacks), even the communities complain that the military presence has caused more harm than good.
“The deployment of military, often gives the communities the leeway to want to have their own force. Thus, we see a lot of vigilante groups resulting in militarization of these communities that is continuing the vicious cycle of violence.”
Adelehin urged the government to make efforts to deploy structures that can transform and also bring reconciliation to the communities.
The military, who are often deployed to stop both parties in the conflict from fighting, according to her, are not often equipped with conflict transformation skills, hence raising tensions instead of dousing it, especially when they do not abide by the rules of engagement.
Cleto Manjora, Head of Search for Common Ground’s North East Office, observed that 60% of the population do not trust that formal security agencies can guarantee them security.
Bernard Basason, EWER senior project coordinator, North East called on the government to leverage on the EWER mechanism put in place in the region to halt potential conflicts from transforming into violent conflicts, as peace gradually returns to the troubled region.
From Tom Garba, Yola