Amidst growing tension in Nigeria over bloody clashes between farmers and herders, particularly in the Southwest region, the Peace Corps of Nigeria has commenced a campaign to peacefully resolve the issues.
Clashes between farmers and cattle herders have existed before Nigeria’s independence but in recent times, the clashes have degenerated into tribal conflicts, threatening the country’s unity.
The herders, who are mostly from the Fulani ethnic group, have been accused of herding their flocks into farmlands, destroying crops and plants.
They are also accused of committing various crimes, including kidnapping for ransom, raping and killing.
From Oyo to Ogun to Ondo in the Southwest as well Imo, Abia in the Southeast, there have been agitations from communities claiming to be victims of herdsmen attacks.
In response to the development, Peace Corps of Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation, which is seeking legal recognition as a paramilitary agency, has launched a campaign to peacefully resolve the crises between farmers and herdsmen.
On Friday, members of the corps took the campaign to the house of Seriki Hausa (head of Hausa community) in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, in Southwest Nigeria.
During the visit, Micheal Oyemike, the Deputy National Commandant of the Corps in charge of General Duties and Intelligence, said the group felt it was important to find a peaceful solution to the crises.
He said one of the objectives of the corps was to identify threats to national peace and security.
“Our officers have been trained to be solution providers and they are achieving positive results through dialogue, mediation and alternative dispute resolution,” Oyemike said.
He said the corps would meet with stakeholders across the country to address the issues, which had resulted in conflicts.
Oyemike explained that the organisation decided to start from the Southwest zone “because of the present situation ( in the area) and we believe that with dialogue, we shall achieve positive results.”
On his part, Patriot Akinyemi, the Commandant of the Corps in Ogun State, assured the Hausa/Fulani community of an improved relationship between them and other communities.
Akinyemi said that the corps would get in touch with other stakeholders in the Southwest in order to achieve peace in communities.
In his reaction, Alhaji Ibraheem Hassan, the Seriki Fulani of Egbaland, commended Peace Corps of Nigeria for its effort to restore peace to Nigeria, especially concerning clashes between farmers and herders.
“We don’t want a situation where this crisis will escalate in this country, as we are here we will discuss reasonable issues.
“My advice is that we want to be united; we want people to be united in this country. We are one and we don’t want to separate.
“I call on the Fulani community, the Hausa community and the Yoruba community to sit down for a peace meeting in our communities,” Hassan said.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Fulani community, Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association, heads of markets, chiefs and other notable leaders in the Hausa community in Ogun State.
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