An estimated 7,000 Nigerians died between 2015 and 2019 in the persistent violence between farmers and pastoralists in the middle belt states of Benue and Nasarawa, a report funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has said.
Titled ”Engaging Communities for Peace in Nigeria (ECPN),” the report also said the violence has cost the Nigerian economy $13 billion a year over the past five years.
An international non-governmental organisation, Mercy Corps, conducted the study across the states and wrote the report.
The group said the study was aimed at preventing violent conflict between farmer and herders in the middle belt states. The report was presented at Bon Elvis Hotels On Thursday in Abuja.
The presentation was witnessed by the paramount ruler of the Tiv, Tor Tiv James Ayatse; the Country Director, Mercy Corps, Darius Radcliffe; USAID Mission Director, Stephen Haykin, represented by USAID country Democracy Officer, Beatrice Reaud , and other community leaders from Benue and Nasarawa states.
The report said a programme of interventions in the middle belt states by Mercy Corps had helped to reduce conflict in the area by 13 per cent.
The report said trained participants in the programme succeeded in resolving1932 inter and the intra-community disputes.
According to the report, over 600 disputes over grazing routes, seasonal access to water points, crop damage, cutting down of economic trees, water pollution by animals, and commerce were addressed peacefully in the communities where ECPN worked.
“Peace and reconciliation lie at the heart of USAID’s global approach to promoting stability and security in conflict-affected areas,” Mrs Reaud, said at the closing event.
“The United States and Nigeria share the objective of reducing violence in the Middle Belt states by peacefully preventing and resolving farmer-pastoralist conflicts.
“We must look beyond the help that Mercy Corps through USAID has given us,” she said.
“We are grateful for the assistance, but [its ideas] must be repackaged an implemented under another name.
“If we don’t change our ways, these problems will continue to hurt us, and it is the poor and downtrodden who suffer most. If you engage in fighting, even if you win, you lose something.”
The Madakin of Lafia in Nasarawa State, Ishaku Dauda, said the USAID Mercy corp initiative had brought peace into their communities.
“We appreciate what they have done. They did not just help face the problem, they helped solve it.
”For instance, if it was a stream that was the cause of the conflict, they dug a borehole as a surplus for water usage for both the herders and farmers.”
“We thank God for Mercy Corp and USAID for what they have done. Some of us never had the idea of coming together, but through their initiative, I began to understand we need to come together to stop the surge,” a member of Zango community in Benue State, Zaki Timbee, said.
In his remarks, the country director of Mercy Corp, Darius Radcliffe, said: ”There has been a tremendous amount of learning as a result of the research that has been embedded into the findings.
”We were able to look at the causes and address the causes of the conflicts without scratching the surface. Also in the engagement with the communities we also decided to choose only Nasarawa and Benue states because they were the states that were most affected by the farmer/herders clashes. They were the likely choices four years ago as they were the states with the most critical cases of violence, in terms of farmer/herders clashes.”
Nnamdi Kanu Still Our Leader, Not Replaced – IPOB
The Indigenous People of Biafra has said that it has not replaced the currently detained Nnamdi Kanu as its leader.
The Biafra group asked its followers to ignore the reports making the rounds that IPOB has replaced Kanu, describing it as “fabricated media propaganda”.
These were made known in a statement by the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, on Tuesday.
According to Powerful, Mazi Chika Edoziem is the head of the IPOB Directorate of State and not IPOB Acting Leader.
The statement read in part, “We, the global movement and family of IPOB under the command and leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, condemn the useless and fabricated media propaganda and blackmail from some media houses that IPOB has another or acting leader replacing our indefatigable liberator and prophet Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“Those peddling this kind of lies are those criminals who zoo gutter media are publishing this to confuse the weak-minded people.
“We want everybody to bear in mind that Mazi Chika Edoziem is the head of IPOB Directorate of State and not IPOB Acting Leader.
“It is unfortunate that some mischievous elements twisted an unambiguous statement by IPOB where we clarified that in the meantime that our Leader is in detention, the Head of DOS, Mazi Edoziem, will be providing direction on the day-to-day activities of IPOB. We never said that Edoziem had become the Acting Leader of IPOB.
“For the avoidance of doubts, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu remains the leader of IPOB. The entire IPOB family all over the world is loyal to him. IPOB has no Acting Leader. Chika Edoziem is only the Head of DOS of IPOB not the Leader.
“We, therefore, urge our family members, supporters, friends, and members of the public to ignore the misleading and mischievous media report.”
Terrorists Responsible for Owo Church Massacre in Our Custody – General Irabor
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has said that the military has arrested the terrorists behind the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.
General Lucky Irabor according to news monitored on SolaceBase, made the revelation on Tuesday, during a parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.
Appreciating the collaboration with sister security agencies, which helped in the arrests of the criminals, Irabor recalled that about 40 person’s were brutally murdered when heavily armed men invaded their worship centre on June 5, 2022.
My Invitation to Rivers to Commission Projects Demonstration of Politics Without Bitterness – Sanwo-Olu
By Eric Elezuo
The Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said that his invitation by the Rivers State governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, to commission a project in Rivers State, is a clear demonstration of politics without bitterness. This is noting that the Lagos State governor is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Wike is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (APC).
On Monday, Sanwo-Olu was a guest of the Rives governor to commission the Orochiri-Worokwu (Waterlines) Flyover delivered by the state government.
In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu commended Governor Wike for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
“I would like to specially commend my brother, Governor Wike, for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
“A commitment that has been recognized by all and sundry, and which has earned him the appellation of “Mr. Projects” within and outside Rivers State,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said though himself and governor Wike belong to different political persuasions, the invitation extended to him sends a very strong message that politicians and political leaders, can come together across political and ideological divides, for the good of the people.
“There is also a strong message being made today about expanding our capacity to play politics without bitterness. This symbolic gesture by my friend and brother is one that should become standard practice across Nigeria.
“There is also a lot that we can learn from one another, and experience that we can translate from one part of the country to the other,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
It will recalled that Wike is in the habit of inviting notable politicians across parties as guests of honour during the unveiling of any of his projects. The likes of governor of Ekiti State, who is also an APC member and Sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare were once invited to commission projects in the state.
Governor Wike had explained that the invitation of the Lagos State governor was not the first time persons of other political parties were invited to inaugurate projects in Rivers State, pointing to the overall benefits such invitations have on governance because it served as peer review for them.