Herder-Farmer conflicts
Date1998 - ongoing
Status ongoing

Farmers (mostly Christians)

Adara, Berom, Jukun, Tiv and Tarok farmers

Hausa farmers

Herders (mostly Muslims)

Fulani herders

Herder–farmer conflicts in Nigeria are a series of disputes over arable land resources across Nigeria between the mostly-Muslim Fulani herders and the mostly-Christian non-Fulani farmers. The conflicts have been especially prominent in the Middle Belt (North Central) since the return of democracy in 1999. More recently, they have deteriorated into attacks on farmers by Fulani herdsmen.

Attacks have also taken place in Northwestern Nigeria against farmers who are mainly Hausa, who are almost entirely Muslim. Many Fulani communities, who are usually farmers, have also been attacked and raided by Fulani bandits and other militias.[1] Despite the conflict fundamentally being a land-use conflict between farmers and herders across Nigeria's Middle Belt, it has taken on dangerous religious and ethnic dimensions mostly because most of the farmers are Christians of various ethnicities while most of the herders are Muslim Fulani who make up about 90% of the country's pastoralists.[2] Thousands of people have died since the attacks began. Sedentary farming in rural communities are often target of attacks because of their vulnerability. There are fears that the conflict will spread to other West African countries, but that has often been downplayed by governments in the region. Attacks on herders have also led them to retaliating by attacking other communities.[3][4][5]

The conflict has been labeled a genocide of Christians by several Christian and Nigerian sources.[6][7][8][9][10]


Herder-farmer conflicts in Nigeria have deep roots and date back to pre-colonial times (before the 1900s). However, these conflicts have become far more severe in recent decades due to population pressures, climate change, and various other factors. During the British colonial era, herders and farmers would agree on a system called burti, in which specific migration routes were set up for herders, with mutual agreement from the farmers, herders, and local authorities. However, the burti system collapsed around the 1970s when farmers increasingly claimed ownership of lands along cattle migration paths, increasingly leading to conflicts.[11]

Before, herders frequently exchanged milk for cereal grains with farming communities. However, in recent decades, milk is no longer being widely bartered as packaged beverages became more popular in towns.[11]

Modern medicines have also made it possible for herders to move their livestock further south into the "tsetse fly zone" in the south, whereas before, herders could not keep their cattle on a large scale due to tropical diseases in humid climate zones. Starting from those implemented by the British colonial administration, tsetse control programs have reduced the threat of diseases such as trypanosomiasis. Today, herders also have easy access to drugs for trypanosomiasis and dermatophilosis in order to keep their livestock alive. In addition, over the past several decades, herders have cross-bred trypanosome-intolerant zebu cattle with trypanosome-tolerant humpless breeds, thereby increasing the cattle's tolerance of tropical diseases. All of these factors have enabled the widespread migration of Fulani herders into the southernmost areas of Nigeria, where they could easily sell their livestock for higher prices due to strong demand for beef and other meat products in Nigeria's populous southern towns and cities. However, in the south, they would encounter sedentary communities that have not historically had any experience with peacefully negotiating and co-existing with nomadic herders. Increasing ease of access to weapons and religious polarisation among both Christians and Muslims have added to the potential for violence.[11]

Since the Fourth Nigerian Republic's founding in 1999, farmer-herder violence has killed more than 19,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.[12][13] It followed a trend in the increase of farmer-herder conflicts throughout much of the western Sahel, due to an expansion of agriculturist population and cultivated land at the expense of pasturelands; deteriorating environmental conditions, desertification and soil degradation;[14] population growth;[3] breakdown in traditional conflict resolution mechanisms of land and water disputes; and proliferation of small arms and crime in rural areas.[15] Insecurity and violence have led many populations to create self-defence forces and ethnic and tribal militias, which have engaged in further violence. The majority of farmer-herder clashes have occurred between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and farmers, exacerbating hostilities.[16]

Ethnic groups

There are various pastoralist tribes in northern Nigeria that include not only Fulani people, but also Kanuri, Kanembu, Arab, and other groups. Blench (2010) lists the following pastoralist tribes in northern Nigeria.[11]

Tribe Ethnic group Location Primary livestock
Baggara Arab south of Geidam cattle
Shuwa Arab eastern Borno/Cameroon cattle
Uled Suliman Arab Komadugu Yobe valley camels
Anagamba Fulɓe north-eastern Borno cattle
Bokolooji Fulɓe northern Borno cattle
Maare Fulɓe south-eastern Borno cattle
Sankara Fulɓe north-western Borno cattle
Uda'en Fulɓe north-eastern Nigeria uda sheep
Woɗaaɓe Fulɓe north-eastern Nigeria cattle
Badawai Kanuri central Borno cattle
Jetko Kanuri north of Geidam/Niger camels
Kanuri Kanuri Borno cattle
Koyam Kanuri south-central Borno cattle
Manga Kanuri north-west Borno cattle/camels
Mober Kanuri north-eastern Borno/Niger cattle
Kuburi Kanembu extreme north-east Borno/Niger cattle
Sugurti Kanembu Lake Chad shore cattle
Teda (Tubu) Teda (Tubu) northern Borno/Niger camels
Tuareg Tuareg north of Sokoto/Niger camels
Yedina (Buduma) Yedina (Buduma) Lake Chad shore cattle

Fulani herdsmen are represented by advocacy groups such as Miyetti Allah.[17]

Farmers belong to diverse ethnic groups, primarily Hausa people and the diverse ethnic groups of the Middle Belt. In more recent years, this has also expanded to include southern Nigerian ethnic groups such as the Yoruba, Igbo, and others.[11] Farmers belonging to various minority ethnic groups in the Middle Belt are represented by partisan advocacy groups such as CONAECDA.[18][19][20]

Regional conflicts in Jos and Kaduna

The farmer/herder conflicts have been taking place in regions which have been unstable since the 2000s. Urban conflicts in Jos and Kaduna have been particularly violent and, despite violent clashes with the authorities, their causes have never been addressed politically. Conflicts might not have been addressed adequately because traditional authorities have not been fulfilling their role in colonial-era settlements.[21]

Over time the periodic clashes between herders and farmers in Northern and North-Central Nigeria have precipitated a general climate of insecurity. This widespread insecurity both allows for and is perpetuated by acts of broader criminality, in which gangs of bandits target locations in the area for raids, mass kidnappings, and looting.[22]

Causes of the conflict

Land conflicts

Conflicts between farmers and herders can be understood as a problem of access to land. The beginning of the 21st century witnessed an expansion of the agriculturist population and its cultivated land at the expense of pasturelands in the Middle Belt. In an already politically unstable region, it has never always been possible to ascertain a legal title to land for every farmer. As a result, transhumance routes of herders were no longer available, especially in a context of global warming.[23]

Climatic crisis

Deteriorating environmental conditions, desertification and soil degradation[14][24][25] have led Fulani herdsmen from Northern Nigeria to change their transhumance routes. Access to pastureland and watering points in the Middle Belt became essential for herdsmen travelling from the North of the country. It is often assumed that climate change is the driver of the conflict but recent study suggest that climate change does not automatically cause the conflict, but it has, however, changed the herders' migration pattern.[26] Regions vulnerable to climate change (Northern Regions) experience less farmer-herder conflict and less intense farmer-herder fighting.[26] It is argued that ethnic conflict between farming and herding groups need to be considered in the explanation of the mechanism of the climate change-farmer-herder conflict nexus.[26]


The Nigerian government has been unwilling to address the causes of the crisis.[27] Fighting Boko Haram in the North-East and facing rising levels of violence in different regions of the country, the government has nonetheless tried to implement a few measures.

Due to the widely perceived inefficacy of the Nigerian government, armed vigilante groups have sprung up in many farmer communities. This situation would often lead to vicious cycles of bloody feuds among farmers and herders. Local politicians and religious leaders have also exacerbated conflicts by recruiting members and frequently exaggerating claims.[11]

Since 2012, there have been projects to create transhumance corridors through the Middle Belt. Mostly supported by Northern lawmakers and opposed by their Southern counterparts, these endeavours have been rarely successful.[28]

In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari tried to create Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlements. His proposal was met with fierce criticism.[29] On 17 May 2021, the 17 Southern governors in Nigeria issued the Asaba Declaration, aimed at solving the crisis.[30]

Although ranching, where cattle are kept in enclosed parcels of land, has frequently been proposed as a solution to the crisis, this has proven to be highly unfeasible in Nigeria due to poor infrastructure (with unstable supplies of electricity, water, and fuel) and difficulties with acquisition and legal ownership of land.[31][32] Land grabbing and cattle rustling are also potential difficulties that ranchers would have to deal with. Ranchers would also be unable to compete with nomadic herders with zero land-related costs.[33]

List of attacks

Nigerian and foreign newspapers are often unable to provide exact numbers of casualties. Despite the high number of attacks, Nigerian and foreign journalists rarely have access to first-hand testimonies and tend to report inaccurate figures.[34]

  • According to the Global Terrorism Index, these conflicts resulted in over 800 deaths by 2015.[35]
  • The year 2016 saw further incidents in Agatu, Benue and Nimbo, Enugu State.[36][37]
  • In April 2018, Fulani gunmen allegedly killed 19 people during an attack on the church, afterwards they burnt dozens of nearby homes.[38]
  • In January 2018, about 10 persons were killed in an attack and reprisal involving herders and local farmers in Numan local council of Adamawa State.[39][40][41]
  • In May 2018 over 400 herdsmen attacked four villages of Lamurde, Bang, Bolk, Zumoso and Gon in Numan and Lamurde local councils of Adamawa State killing 15 people.[42]
  • In June 2018, over 200 people were killed and 50 houses were burnt in clashes between farmers and Fulani cattle herders in Plateau State, including one devastating attack from the night of the 22nd to the morning of the 23rd which killed 21 villagers in the village of Dowaya, Adamawa state. The casualties were reported to only consist of women and children.[43][44][45][46]
  • In July 2018, a clash erupted between the Fulani settlers and the Yandang community in Lau Local Government Area of Taraba State. About 73 people were killed and 50 villages were razed.[47]
  • In October 2018, Fulani herdsmen killed at least 19 people in Bassa.[48]
  • On 16 December 2018, militants believed to be Fulani herdsmen attacked a village in Jema'a, killing 15 people and injuring at least 24 others, the attack occurred at a wedding ceremony.[49][50]
  • On 11 February 2019, an attack on an Adara settlement named Ungwar Bardi by suspected Fulani gunmen killed 11. Reprisal attack by Adara targeted settlements of the Fulani killing at least 141 people with 65 missing. The attacks took place in Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State.[51] According to a governor the motive was to destroy specific communities.[52][53]
  • The Coalition Against Kajuru killings stated on 18 March 2019 that 130 people have been killed in a series of revenge attacks since the massacre announced by El-Rufai.[54]
  • On January 26 and 27 of 2020, 32 villagers were murdered in two different attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Plateau State.[55]
  • On April 12 of 2022, 23 were killed in an attack by herdsman against the Mbadwem (Guma local government area) and Tiortyu (Tarka local government area) communities.[56]
  • On September 7 of 2023, Na’aman Danlami, a Catholic seminarian studying for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, died in a fire set by Fulani militants when their attempted kidnapping of a priest living in the rectory was unsuccessful.[57][58][59]

See also



  1. ^ Salkida, Ahmad (2020-06-13). "Fulani: Villain And Victim Of Militia Attacks?". HumAngle. Retrieved 2023-05-12.
  2. ^ "Stopping Nigeria's Spiralling Farmer-Herder Violence". International Crisis Group. 24 December 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Ilo, Udo Jude; Jonathan-Ichaver, Ier; Adamolekun, 'Yemi (2019-01-24). "The Deadliest Conflict You've Never Heard of". Foreign Affairs: America and the World. ISSN 0015-7120. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  4. ^ "Herdsmen and Farmers Conflict in Nigeria: A Threat to Peacebuilding and Human Security in West Africa | Africa Up Close". Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  5. ^ "Nigeria school abductions sparked by cattle feuds, not extremism, officials say". Reuters. 24 December 2020. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Is Genocide Happening In Nigeria As The World Turns A Blind Eye?". Forbes.
  7. ^ "Genocide Emergency: Nigeria". 23 September 2020.
  8. ^ "The Mass Murder of Nigerian Christians". December 2020.
  9. ^ "Why the West Ignores the Nigerian Genocide". Newsweek. 21 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Stop the Christian Genocide in Nigeria". NCR. February 26, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Blench, Roger. 2010. Conflict between Pastoralism|pastoralists and cultivators in Nigeria. Review paper prepared for the Department for International Development (DFID), Nigeria.
  12. ^ "ICON Launches New Report Proving Nigerian Genocide". Missions Box. 3 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Nigeria's Silent Slaughter Genocide in Nigeria and the Implications for the International Community". International Committee on Nigeria.
  14. ^ a b "How Climate Change Is Spurring Land Conflict in Nigeria". Time. 28 June 2018.
  15. ^ Baca, Michael W. (21 August 2015). "My Land, Not Your Land. Farmer-Herder Wars in the Sahel". Foreign Affairs.
  16. ^ "Farmer-Herder Clashes Amplify Challenge for Beleaguered Nigerian Security". IPI Global Observatory. 16 July 2015.
  17. ^ Blench, Roger. 2016. The fire next time: the upsurge in civil insecurity across the Central Zone of Nigeria. Cambridge: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation.
  18. ^ Blench, Roger (2020). An Atlas of Nigerian Languages (PDF). Cambridge: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation.
  19. ^ Blench, Roger. 2019. Old data and new technologies: the seamless integration of linguistics, literacy and translation for Nigerian minority languages. Jos Linguistic Circle, Jos, 13th March, 2019.
  20. ^ Blench, Roger (2020-12-31). "Research on the Plateau languages of Central Nigeria". Afrika und Übersee. Hamburg University Press. 93: 3–44. doi:10.15460/auue.2020.93.1.209. S2CID 128339090.
  21. ^ Last, Murray (2007). "Muslims and Christians in Nigeria: An economy of political panic". The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs. 96 (392): 605–616. doi:10.1080/00358530701626057. ISSN 0035-8533. S2CID 219627153.
  22. ^ Muhammad, Tanko Shittu (12 April 2022). "Dozens dead after gunmen ransack central Nigerian villages". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  23. ^ "Government failures fuel deadly conflict between farmers and herders in Nigeria". www.amnesty.org. 17 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Eduresource World: Causes and Effect of Desertification in Nigeria". Eduresource World. 2013-08-09. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  25. ^ Simire, Michael (2018-11-18). "Nigeria threatened by desertification, says NCF". EnviroNews Nigeria. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  26. ^ a b c Madu, Ignatius Ani; Nwankwo, Cletus Famous (20 May 2020). "Spatial pattern of climate change and farmer–herder conflict vulnerabilities in Nigeria". GeoJournal. 86 (6): 2691–2707. doi:10.1007/s10708-020-10223-2. S2CID 219475368.
  27. ^ "The deepening Pastoral Conflict". Nigeria's leading geopolitical intelligence platform. 2017-11-30. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  28. ^ "Senators fight over grazing land for Fulani herdsmen". The Punch. 21 July 2012. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014.
  29. ^ "Ruga settlement". Sahara Reporters. 28 June 2019.
  30. ^ "FULL COMMUNIQUE: Southern Governors Call For National Dialogue, Ban Open Grazing". Channels TV. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  31. ^ Rachael, Abujah (2018-11-08). "British anthropologist advises against ranching in Nigeria". EnviroNews Nigeria. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  32. ^ "British anthropologist advises against ranching in Nigeria". Royal News. 2018-11-09. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  33. ^ Blench, Roger. 2017. Pastoral conflict and supplying Nigeria with meat: how can the paradox be resolved. Field investigations on pastoralist-farmers crises areas and enhancement of MISEREOR's partnersinterventions in Nigeria, Phase 3. Revised paper prepared for ISEREOR/JDPs.
  34. ^ Hiribarren, Vincent (2019). Un manguier au Nigeria: Histoires du Borno. Paris: Plon. ISBN 978-2-259-25086-3.
  35. ^ "Global Terrorism Index 2015" (PDF). Institute for Economics and Peace. pp. 43–44. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-09-25. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  36. ^ Muslim Fulani Herdsmen Massacres Reach Southern Nigeria, Morning Star News. April 27, 2016
  37. ^ Fulani Herdsmen Massacre 40 Farmers in Enugu. Tori.ng; posted by Thandiubani on Tue 26th Apr, 2016
  38. ^ "Fresh bloodbath in Benue, 2 Catholic priests, 17 others killed by herdsmen". Vanguard News. April 25, 2018.
  39. ^ "Herdsmen Attack: Reprisal Claims Six Lives In Adamawa". Sahara Reporters. 2018-01-23. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  40. ^ Ochetenwu, Jim (2019-11-23). "Suspected herdsmen attack Adamawa village, kill many". Daily Post Nigeria. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  41. ^ "Herdsmen: Attack, reprisal claim six lives in Adamawa". Vanguard News. 2018-01-23. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  42. ^ "JUST IN: 400 herdsmen attack Adamawa villages, 15 locals killed". The Sun Nigeria. 2018-05-03. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  43. ^ Kazeem, Yomi (27 June 2018). "The latest clash between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria has left more than 200 dead". Quartz.
  44. ^ "Communal clashes leave 86 dead in Nigeria". BBC News. 25 June 2018.
  45. ^ Nigeria, Information (25 June 2018). "86 people killed and 50 houses burnt in fresh Fulani herdsmen attack in Plateau".
  46. ^ "21 feared killed in Adamawa herdsmen attack". Punch Newspapers. 24 June 2018. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  47. ^ "Clashes in northern Nigeria's Taraba leave 73 dead - Xinhua | English.news.cn". Archived from the original on July 13, 2018.
  48. ^ "Herdsmen kill 19 in Plateau midnight attack". October 5, 2018.
  49. ^ "15 killed, 24 injured as gunmen attack Kaduna village". www.dailytrust.com.ng. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  50. ^ "Gunmen Kill 15, Injure 20 in Southern Kaduna". www.thisdaylive.com. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  51. ^ "How 66 people were killed in Kaduna in two days". Premium Times. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  52. ^ "Miyetti Allah releases names of 131 victims of Kajuru, Kaduna violence | Premium Times Nigeria". February 22, 2019.
  53. ^ "'El- Rufai alleges plan to 'wipe out' some Kaduna communities". Premium Times. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  54. ^ Tauna, Amos (March 19, 2019). "Kajuru killings: Over 130 lives wasted - Group laments".
  55. ^ "Violence in Plateau State, Nigeria Escalates with more Muslim Fulani Herdsmen Attacks". MorningStar News. January 30, 2020.
  56. ^ "23 Locals Killed in Fresh Attacks on Two Benue Communities".
  57. ^ "Seminarian in Nigeria burned alive in botched kidnapping".
  58. ^ "A seminarian brutally murdered and another kidnapped in Nigeria".
  59. ^ "Nigerian Bishop calls for prayer after seminarian burned alive in attack".

Communal conflicts in Nigeria

Map of the 36 States of Nigeria
(25 years)
Status Ongoing


Adara, Berom, Jukun, Tiv and Tarok farmers


Fulani and Hausa herders


Commanders and leaders

Bola Tinubu
Muhammadu Buhari
Goodluck Jonathan
Umaru Musa Yar'Adua
Olusegun Obasanjo
Bashir Salihi Magashi (2019–present)
Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali (2015–19)
Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (2014–15)
Olusola Obada (2012–13)
Haliru Mohammed Bello (2011–12)
Adetokunbo Kayode (2010–11)
Godwin Abbe (2009–10)
Shettima Mustapha (2008–09)
Yayale Ahmed (2007–08)
Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi (2006–07)
Rabiu Kwankwaso (2003–07)

Theophilus Danjuma (1999–03)
Casualties and losses
16,000+ people killed since 1998[1][2]

Communal conflicts in Nigeria[3] can be divided into two broad categories:[4][dubious ]

The most impacted states are those of the Nigerian Middle Belt like Benue, Taraba and Plateau.[8][9][10][11] Violence has reached two peaks in 2004 and 2011 with around 2,000 fatalities those years.[12][13] It resulted in more than 700 fatalities in 2015 alone.[2][14][15][16]


Climate change played a major role in the migration of Fulani herdsmen.

African countries have been affected the most by climate change globally.[17] This notion has contributed to the migration of Fulani herdsmen from the North towards southwest Nigeria.[18] As observed from a "Push and pull" model, desertification, landslides, droughts, pollution, sand storms, and diseases that have all transpired from climatic changes have led Fulani Herdsmen to leave their communities. This is mostly due to droughts which time span have persisted longer than anticipated, such as the evaporation of Lake Chad.[19] Moreover, diseases have developed from climatic conditions and is killing the animals of these herdsmen. Thus, many Fulani's, also known as "the Bororos", are inclined to migrate south where there is improved vegetation, weather conditions, market opportunities, and hopefulness.[20]

Herder–farmer conflicts

Since the Fourth Nigerian Republic's founding in 1999, farmer-herder violence has killed thousands of people and displaced tens of thousands more. Insecurity and violence have led many populations to create self-defence forces and ethnic militias, which have engaged in further violence.[citation needed][21] The majority of farmer–herder clashes have occurred between Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian peasants, exacerbating ethnoreligious hostilities.[22] This violence stems from the relationship between the Bororo Fulani and the Yoruba farmers. Prior to this, the Fulani people had migrated into the southwestern Nigeria region centuries ago. In fact, in the 18th century, three different groups of Fulani had migrated to the city of Iseyin. These groups consisted of the Bangu, Sokoto, and Bororo Fulani. Out of these three groups, the Bororo Fulani in particular were the group to separate themselves from the Yoruba farmers. Meanwhile, the Bangu and Sokoto had developed a working relationship with the Yoruba people of Nigeria.[23] Through this bond, they profited off of each other from the by products of their cattle and agriculture. The Fulani people would trade any commodities they extracted from their cattle to the Yorubas for their crops.[24] However, the migration of the Bororo Fulani shifted this relationship as they were perceived to be more aggressive than the settled Fulani. This difference was further exacerbated as they did not speak the native Yoruba language unlike the settled Fulani people who did. As the Bororo Fulani pastoralists integrated into this region the cattle they owned started damaging Yoruba farmers' crops and plants.[citation needed] This led to friction to become quite common among these two groups. One case that can be observed was when additional wreckage was pressed into farmers in the city of Iseyin after a group of Bororo Fulani were exiled from the city of Oyo and migrated there in 1998.[25]

Another conflict the Bororo Fulani have been involved with was in 1804 when the Fulani had a Holy War between those who identified as Muslim and resonated with the Hausas and those that were still associated with the Pagan tribes.[26] The war took place in the northern region of Nigeria.[27] This war led to a dichotomy of two groups of the Fulani. One group amalgamated with the Hausa people and are essentially integrated as Hausas while holding positions of wealth and power. The other group kept their pastoral ways intact and did not intermesh with any other tribes.[28] This is what eventually became the Bororo Fulani which means the Bush or Cow Fulani.

Currently, the conflict between Fulani herders and other Nigerian farmers have intensified.[29] From 2011 to 2016, roughly 2,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced. This is partly due to the rise of jihadist groups, such as Boko Haram. Their presence has jeopardized many herders and farmers that graze in Northern Nigeria. The government has made little efforts to intervene and create schemes to alleviate this conflict.[30] Hence, herders and farmers take it upon themselves to solve the conflicts existing within the community which invigorates conflict.

In July 2023, As of the most recent updates, the intercommunal violence in Plateau State, Nigeria, has resulted in the displacement of more than 80,000 people and a reported death toll of around 300. The conflict primarily involves clashes between Muslim nomadic herders and Christian farming communities, posing a significant security challenge for the region. In response, the Nigerian military has taken measures to strengthen security and address the ongoing violence with the aim of restoring stability in the affected areas.[31]

Abet Fulani herders

The Abet, also known as the Kachichere, are another subgroup of the Fulani.[32] They live in the Abet region of Nigeria after they migrated there in the 18th century. They live in a region for approximately 3 to 5 years before moving another few kilometers within the Abet. Once they establish a homestead, their herds graze within a 3-mile radius.[citation needed] The reason they prefer to graze in the Abet is due to the favorable conditions it holds for their cattle. This stems from the dry season coinciding with the peak of cow fertility and the production of milk.[citation needed] Furthermore, it is easier to herd animals in these open land spaces rather than in condense areas replete of bushes. For land rights in this region, Fulani families may be given rights to parts of the land through customary structures. Thus, land is distributed from chiefs or those in charge of the villages that these fields reside in.[citation needed]

Other examples

Additional instances of ethnic violence in Nigeria exist;[33] these are often urban riots or such, for example the Yoruba-Hausa disturbances in Lagos,[34][35] the Igbo massacre of 1966 or the clashes between the Itsekiri and the Ijaw in Delta state. Others are land disputes between neighbours, such as clashes between Ile-Ife and Modakeke in the late 1990s[36] and in Ebonyi State in 2011.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "Social Violence Data Table". Connect SAIS Africa. Archived from the original on 29 June 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b "ACLED Realtime data 2015". Archived from the original on 31 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Backgrounder: Communal conflicts in Nigeria". UCDP. 21 June 2012. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Nigeria Social Violence Project Summary" (PDF). Connect SAIS Africa. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 June 2015.
  5. ^ Agbiboa, Daniel Egiegba (2013). "Ethno-religious Conflicts and the Elusive Quest for National Identity in Nigeria". Journal of Black Studies. 44 (1): 3–30. ISSN 0021-9347.
  6. ^ "The Unending Cycle of Violence in Kaduna – THISDAYLIVE". www.thisdaylive.com. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  7. ^ "Nigeria's Pernicious Drivers of Ethno-Religious Conflict". Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  8. ^ "KILLINGS IN BENUE, PLATEAU AND TARABA STATES". Archived from the original on 27 July 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Understanding the Herder-Farmer Conflict in Nigeria". ACCORD. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  10. ^ "Nigeria Middle Belt". ACAPS. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  11. ^ "Environmental cooperation as a pathway to resolve Nigeria's deadly farmer-herder conflicts". UNEP. 4 October 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  12. ^ "Social violence in Nigeria". Connect SAIS Africa. Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  13. ^ Olufemi, Alfred. "Horrors on the Plateau: Inside Nigeria's farmer-herder conflict". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  14. ^ HAMID, BOBBOYI (2005). Peace - Building and conflict resolution in Northern.
  15. ^ "The forgotten farmer-herdsmen conflict in middle belt states Nigeria | MSF". Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  16. ^ Dhindsa, Tejas (15 September 2022). "Changing Dynamics of Conflict and Peacebuilding Among Farmer-Herder Communities in Nigeria's Middle Belt Region". Kujenga Amani. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  17. ^ "Climate Change in Africa". African Development Bank - Building today, a better Africa tomorrow. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  18. ^ Idowu, Olumide (1 May 2018). "How Climate Change Influences Herdsmen in Nigeria". Climate Scorecard. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  19. ^ Read "Natural Climate Variability on Decade-to-Century Time Scales" at NAP.edu. 1995. doi:10.17226/5142. ISBN 978-0-309-05449-2.
  20. ^ Folami, Olakunle Michael; Folami, Adejoke Olubimpe (January 2013). "Climate Change and Inter-Ethnic Conflict in Nigeria". Peace Review. 25 (1): 104–110. doi:10.1080/10402659.2013.759783. ISSN 1040-2659. S2CID 143007897.
  21. ^ Wada, Hadiza Isa (2015). Boko Haram: the charade vs the reality. Yaliam press.
  22. ^ "Farmer-Herder Clashes Amplify Challenge for Beleaguered Nigerian Security". IPI Global Observatory. 16 July 2015.
  23. ^ Adebayo, A. G. (1991). "Of Man and Cattle: A Reconsideration of the Traditions of Origin of Pastoral Fulani of Nigeria". History in Africa. 18: 1–21. doi:10.2307/3172050. ISSN 0361-5413. JSTOR 3172050.
  24. ^ "Fulani empire | historical empire, Africa". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  25. ^ Olaniyi, Rasheed Oyewole (27 February 2014). "Bororo Fulani Pastoralists and Yoruba Farmers' Conflicts in the Upper Ogun River, Oyo State Nigeria, 1986–2004". Journal of Asian and African Studies. 50 (2): 239–252. doi:10.1177/0021909614522948. ISSN 0021-9096. S2CID 143887582.
  26. ^ Ibrahim, Mustafa B. (April 1966). "The Fulani - A Nomadic Tribe in Northern Nigeria". African Affairs. 65 (259): 170–176. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a095498. ISSN 1468-2621.
  27. ^ Aremu, Johnson (2011). "The Fulani Jihad and its Implication for National Integration and Development in Nigeria". African Research Review. Ethiopia: IAARR. 5 (5): 1–12. doi:10.4314/afrrev.v5i5.1. ISSN 2070-0083.
  28. ^ "Making sense of Nigeria's Fulani-farmer conflict". BBC News. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  29. ^ "Double-edged Sword: Vigilantes in African Counter-insurgencies". Crisis Group. 7 September 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  30. ^ "Herders against Farmers: Nigeria's Expanding Deadly Conflict". Crisis Group. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  31. ^ "Tens of Thousands Displaced by Central Nigeria Clashes". VOA. 23 July 2023. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  32. ^ Waters-Bayer, Ann; Bayer, Wolfgang (1994). "Corning to Terms. Interactions between Immigrant Fulani Cattle-Keepers and Indigenous Farmers in Nigeria's Subhumid Zone". Cahiers d'études africaines. 34 (133): 213–229. doi:10.3406/cea.1994.2048. ISSN 0008-0055.
  33. ^ ORUMIE S. T. (May 2008). "2 NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (NDDC) AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITIES: A CASE STUDY OF RIVERS STATE" (PDF). University of Nigeria, Nsukka. University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  34. ^ NIGERIA: Special Report on Ethnic Violence Archived 17 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER.
  35. ^ "Lagos calm after city centre riots". BBC Online. BBC. 18 October 2000. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2007.
  36. ^ Ife Modakeke Clash: Guess What Ooni's Planning Archived 16 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine Michael Abimboye, naij.com Archived 26 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Nigeria: 'at least 50 killed' in communal clashes. Archived 12 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Telegraph, 11:28AM GMT 1 January 2012.

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Fulani wedding

Fulani herdsmen or Fulani pastoralists are nomadic or semi-nomadic Fulani people whose primary occupation is raising livestock.[1] The Fulani herdsmen are largely located in the Sahel and semi-arid parts of West Africa, but due to relatively recent changes in climate patterns, many herdsmen have moved further south into the savannah and tropical forest belt of West Africa. The herdsmen are found in countries such as Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon. In Senegal, they inhabit northeastern Ferlo and the southeastern part of the country. In some of these countries the Fula constitute a minority group. They inhabit Northern Nigeria and some parts of the country.


Herding system

Fulani herdsman in Togo

A pastoral Fulani family is the traditional herding unit. Tasks are divided by gender and age among the members of the family.[2] The main work of men is to manage the herd, find grazing sites, build tents and camps, and make security tools such as knives, bows and arrows. Women in the unit take on traditional female gender roles such as sourcing food produce in the market, milking cows, weaving and mat-making.[3] Some women are also involved in farming such as growing vegetables and raising poultry.

Cattle is the dominant composition of the Fulani herd in countries such as Nigeria, and camel is the least-liked animal.[2] The livestock is largely female with close to 60% of cattle being female; the male species are usually reduced by selling them.


Fulani herdsmen engage in both random and planned transhumance movements. Random movements are usually taken by the pure nomadic Fulani herdsmen, while planned movements are taken by the semi-nomadic pastoralist. A primary reason for the migratory nature of the herdsmen is to reach areas with abundant grass and water for the cattle.[4] The herdsmen also move to avoid tax collectors, harmful insects and hostile weather and social environment. A major benefit of the movement for the herdsmen is to maximize the availability of food resources for the cattle and reduce excessive grazing.[5] Before moving to new areas, the herdsmen send a reconnaissance team to study the area for availability of resources such as grass and water.

Source of income

The sale of goat, sheep and dairy products such as milk constitute the primary source of income and livelihood for the herdsmen. Their wealth and riches are often measured by the size of the cattle herd.[6] Traditionally, the herdsmen often loan cows (habbanaya) to one another, and once the cow has birthed and weaned a calf it is returned to its original owner. These herdsmen herd several species of cattle, but the zebu cattle is the most common in the West African hinterland because of its drought-resistant traits. The dwarf Ndama cattle is commonly herded in the wetter areas of Fouta Djallon and Casamance as a result of their resistance to trypanosomiasis and other conditions directly associated with high humidity.[7]


Fulani herdsmen build domed houses called suudu hudo or bukkaru made from grasses. During the dry season, these houses are often supported with compact millet stalk pillars; in the wet or rainy season, they are supported by reed mats held together and tied against wood poles.[8][9] The advantage of the bukkaru house is that it is mobile and easy to set up and dismantle. When it is time to relocate, the houses are dismantled and loaded onto a camel, horses, donkeys, or sometimes cattle for transport.[9][10] In recent times some herdsmen now live in mud or concrete block houses.[11]

Conflict with farmers

Historically, Fulani pastoralists have grazed in lands around the arid Sahel regions of West Africa, partly because of the environmental conditions that limit the amount of land for agricultural purposes, leading to less intense competition for land between farmers and herders. However, after recurrent droughts in the arid Sahel regions, Fulani pastoralists have gradually moved southwards to the Guinea savanna and the tropical forest areas, resulting in competition for grazing routes with farmers.[12] Farmers have also moved north with the increase in population.[13]


Fulani pastoralists started migrating into northern Nigeria from the Senegambia region around the thirteenth or fourteenth century.[12] After the Uthman dan Fodio jihad, the Fulani became integrated into the Hausa culture of Northern Nigeria. Thereafter, during the dry season when the tsetse fly population is reduced, Fulani pastoralists began to drive their cattle into North Central returning to the North West and East at the onset of the rainy season. But while managing the herd and driving cattle, cattle grazing on farmlands sometimes occurs, leading to destruction of crops and becoming a source of conflict.

Nigeria's implementation of the land use act of 1978 allowed the state or federal government the right to assign and lease land and also gave indigenes the right to apply and be given a certificate of occupancy to claim ownership of their ancestral lands.[14] This placed the pastoral Fulani in a difficult position because most did not apply for lands of occupancy of their grazing routes, and recurring transhumance movement led to encroachment on the properties of others. The Nigeria government designed some areas as grazing routes but this has not reduced clashes. From 1996 to 2006 about 121 people lost their lives in Bauchi and Gombe states as a result of conflicts between pastoralists and farmers.[15]

Thousands of people have been killed since 2016 in clashes between farmers and semi-nomadic herders.[16]

In Nigeria, Fulani herdsmen are represented by advocacy groups such as Miyetti Allah.[17]


Fulani groups in Ghana are pastoralist usually living in Northern Ghana because of their Senegambia origin;[14] as a result, their rights to use the areas termed ancestral lands by indigenous ethnic groups have met with some reservations.


In March 2019, 160 Fulani herders were massacred in the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara in Mopti region. The perpetrators were alleged to be hunters belonging to the Dogon ethnic group.[18][19][20]

See also


  1. ^ Iro (1994), pp. 22
  2. ^ a b Iro (1994), pp. 103
  3. ^ Iro (1994), pp. 104
  4. ^ Iro (1994), pp. 106
  5. ^ Iro (1994), pp. 107
  6. ^ Chris Caldicott (1996-11-02). "Take me to the river - Travel". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  7. ^ "Dewgal (Crossing of the Cattle): a celebration of greener pastures". Lonely Planet. 15 November 2012. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  8. ^ Al-Amin Abu-Manga, Fulfulde in the Sudan: process of adaptation to Arabic (1986), p. 7, books.google.com/books?id=8IYOAAAAYAAJ: "The Fulani in the Sudan are known by the loose generic term 'Fellata'"
  9. ^ a b "The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  10. ^ "Association of Concerned Africa Scholars " Citizenship and Identity in Post-Secession Northern Sudan". Concernedafricascholars.org. Archived from the original on 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  11. ^ Schlee, Gunther; Watson, Elizabeth, eds. (2013-10-15). Changing Identifications and Alliances in North-east Africa: Volume II: Sudan, Uganda, and the Ethiopia-Sudan Borderlands. ISBN 9781845459635. Archived from the original on 2017-04-21. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  12. ^ a b Tonah (2002)
  13. ^ Akinwotu, Emmanuel (June 25, 2018). "Nigeria's Farmers and Herders Fight a Deadly Battle for Scarce Resources". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 24, 2019. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Okello (2014)
  15. ^ Abbass (2014)
  16. ^ "Amnesty: Farmer-herder clashes kill 3,600 in Nigeria. //aljazeera. 17 Dec 2018". Archived from the original on 6 February 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  17. ^ Blench, Roger. 2016. The fire next time: the upsurge in civil insecurity across the Central Zone of Nigeria. Cambridge: Kay Williamson Educational Foundation.
  18. ^ "Mali attack: More than 130 Fulani villagers killed". BBC News. BBC. 24 March 2019. Archived from the original on 23 March 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Death Toll From Mali Attacks Climbs to 160, Government Says". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  20. ^ "Fulani migrant groups and pastoralist are usually considered strangers and foreigners because of their Senegambia origin - Google Search". www.google.com. Retrieved 2021-09-11.


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