No fewer than 10 persons were reportedly killed in clashes between suspected Fulani herdsmen and farmers in two communities in Niger State.
It was learnt that the clashes happened at Bokuta village, Bosso Local Government Area, and Tungan Mallam village in the Paikoro LGA.
While six were killed in the Bokuta clash, four died in the Tungan Mallam melee.
A resident of Bokuta, who identified himself only as Isiaq, said trouble started in the community on Thursday, July 7, when some herdsmen invaded a farm with their cattle and destroyed its crop.
He said the farm owner engaged the herdsmen in a scuffle, during which one of the invaders was killed while another one was injured.
“The following day, herdsmen went on a reprisal and shot five farmers dead. The village was in turmoil and nobody could go out for two days. It was the police and military men who eventually came to restore peace,” he added.
In the Tungan Mallam clash, a source who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said a youth had on Friday reared cattle into a large farmland where maize, sorghum, yam and soya beans were grown and destroyed the crops.
He said the owners of the farm complained but the youth and other herdsmen struck and killed one of the farmers. The source added that the farmers regrouped and went on a reprisal, killing three herdsmen.
Seeking lasting solutions to the incident, the source said, “Government must take a bold step to solve this problem. Why must some people destroy the means of livelihood of others to earn their living? It is unfair.”
The Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala James, who confirmed the clashes, said eight persons were killed while three others sustained varying degrees of injuries.
The PPRO said two suspects had been arrested and that there were ongoing dialogues to forestall the crises.
He said, “It was the issue of herders going into farmers’ crops and damaging them. On July 7, at Bokuta village, there was an argument between the farmers and the herders and we learnt that a herder was killed and another one injured.
“The next day, herders mobilised and went on a revenge mission. They killed three farmers and injured two. The situation was brought under control by the police anti-riot team and the military. Normalcy has been restored to the community. Two suspects – Landan Adamu and Muhammed Musa, were arrested.
“On Sunday at Tungan Mallam village, some herdsmen also invaded a farm there and killed a farmer. Farmers in that locality also went on a reprisal and killed three herdsmen. Altogether, eight persons were killed.
“To resolve these clashes, consultations are ongoing. We have invited both parties to a meeting. The state governor and the Commissioner of Police were at the meeting and a committee has been set up to discuss the matter and proffer a more lasting solution to the problem.”
Reacting, the state Governor, Sani Bello, said that the masterminds of the violent clashes would be brought to book.
Bello, who visited the two communities on Monday, said the government would no longer condone any act of lawlessness in the state.
“Nobody has the power or right to take the life of others. These senseless and unwarranted killings cannot and will not be condoned.
“You cannot just take machete and kill somebody because of disagreement. There are laws and nobody can claim to be above the law.
“I have instructed the chairmen of the affected councils, the Commissioner of Police and my Special Adviser on Security to fish out the masterminds of the two clashes as well as their accomplices.
“I have also directed for comprehensive investigations into the incidents with a view to prosecuting and bringing the culprits to book.”