The Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Bem Angwe, has inaugurated a working committee to resolve the perennial clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
According to him, for the past decade, the incidence of clashes between pastoralists and farmers have become a recurring issue.
He said: “The central issue is the increasing scarcity of economic resources. Desertification and massive devastation of vegetation and soil, particularly in the arid zones in the far north, as well as lack of access to adequate water supply have necessitated the southward movement of pastoralists with their cattle all the year round.
“Presently, some states are worse hit. These include Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa. The conflict is also taking a more dangerous dimension as it is dividing the affected people along ethnic and religious lines even though the primary issue is economic.
“More recently, cattle rustling is fast becoming an organised crime in the affected areas while small arms proliferation has also become the order of the day with its attendant toll on the capacity of the state to provide its primary constitutional responsibilities of protecting life and property.
“The historical relationship among the different peoples of northern Nigeria especially, has served to aggravate the matter as the political class, rather than providing lasting solution to this problem by engaging in massive environmental regeneration and development, continued to exploit this situation to serve their narrow political interest which in many instances reinforces the dividing lines among the affected people and communities.”
Prof. Bem Angwe said: “A number of enquiries and studies have been commissioned by governments – federal and states – at different times, but the nation is yet to develop a multi-perspective, pragmatic work plan aimed at achieving a holistic and integrated approach to solve the problem.
“The Commission, therefore, owes a statutory duty to address this issue because it substantially affects protection of right to life, property, environment, health as well as freedom from fear and murder, amongst others.
He mentioned the Committee’s terms of reference to include: “To undertake a desk review of all the existing reports on this matter and draw up a list of issues and stakeholders mapping to guide the current exercise; visit to some of the affected areas (including visits to relevant government officials and agencies); to interact with affected people in order to get their perspective on this matter; organisation of town hall meetings/community dialogue in the affected states – particularly, Kaduna, Nasawara, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa. It also include holding a national conference in Abuja to bring together all the key stakeholders and representatives of the affected communities.
“The conference proceedings and other feedbacks generated from all the above engagements would be brought together to make a policy recommendation to the federal and relevant state governments.
The cnference will equally submit Draft Conference Report to the Executive Secretary on or before October 31, 2016. “It is my hope you will justify the confidence reposed in you by ensuring a diligent discharge of this important national assignment,” Prof Angwe said.