The recent attacks in central north Nigeria’s Plateau State that led to the death of over 80 persons and destruction of no fewer than 50 buildings was one of many, according to police and residents.
This incident is not the first herdsmen and farmers conflict in the most populous African country, whose estimated over 180 million people are divided into at least 200 distinct ethnic groups and about evenly split between Muslims and Christians.
There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen.
Danladi Ciroma, the regional head of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), said Fulani herdsmen have lost about 400 cows in the last few weeks — 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths.
He said 164 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu.
Analysts explained there that it has been a long time strife in the central state between indigenous minority groups, mostly Christian or animist, and migrants and based from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north over the control of fertile farmlands.
According to media reports, hundreds of people died in clash in the town of Yelwa in Plateau State in 2004, while ethnic and religious rioting in Jos September 2001 killed at least 915 people, according to official statistics.
In November 2008, clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs triggered by a disputed local government election killed hundreds of people in Jos and rendered thousands of people homeless.