NIGERIA: At least three killed in clashes between farmers, nomads

Thursday, December 27, 2007

At least three people have been killed and nine seriously injured in a clash between farmers and nomads over grazing land in Borno state, northern Nigeria, police and eyewitnesses said.

But some eyewitnesses put the death toll at more than 20.

Violence erupted on 24 December in Bulabulin Ngaburawa village when herdsmen from the Shuwa tribe reportedly led their herd onto lands belonging to farmers from the Kanuri tribe, destroying crops ready for harvest.

“A number of houses were also torched,” Borno police spokesperson, Isa Adamu Azare, told IRIN on the phone from Maiduguri, the state capital.

Azare said the Shuwa nomads accused the Kanuri farmers of sabotage by deliberately refusing to harvest their crops thus depriving the Shuwa of grazing fields for their cattle.

A resident of the area said the nomads arrived in the village armed.

Muhammad Nur, a commercial bus driver who spoke with IRIN by phone from Maiduguri, said, “The Shuwa nomads rode into the village on horseback carrying guns, machetes, daggers and bows and arrows”.

“I saw at least 40 thatched houses engulfed in flames and women and children fleeing the village,” Nur, who is the secretary of the commercial drivers union in Maiduguri, said.

“I managed to pick up three people fleeing the village in my car who told me that the number of those killed in the violence exceeds 20,” he added.

Azare said armed policemen have been deployed to the village and surrounding areas to restore calm and the injured were receiving treatment at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

Police also arrested 21 people and recovered a large number of weapons, he said.

In recent years local governments have set up farmer-nomad reconciliation committees using traditional rulers as arbitrators. However violent clashes over grazing fields have still erupted each year during the farming season.

Source: IRIN