Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has attributed the recent series of killings believed to have been perpetrated by herdsmen to climate change.
In recent months, there have been renewed clashes between these herdsmen and local farmers, with 200 more people losing their lives as at last month.
The week-long conflict was a shock to many considering security agencies were stationed in the affected areas as part of a military operation.
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In a statement on Sunday, the Nigerian government said climate change has forced the nomadic cattle herdsmen away from their land to other areas in the south to feed and sell their cattle.
“The clashes between herders and farmers are historical. The causes of these confrontations are varied and complex. Climate change, specifically the drying up of the Chad Basin, has led to more pressure on the population in the North of Nigeria, which further compounded the problem.
“As President Buhari indicated lately, there is evidence of the involvement of some politicians using criminals to perpetuate the killings.
“Climate change is an issue of global significance and the Nigerian government is determined to continue working closely with its neighbours in order to ensure that a long-term solution can be implemented,” presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu said in a statement cited by news site Premium Times.
The government, while admitting that some politicians were behind the killings, urged Nigerians to exercise restraint as it is finding ways to find an amicable solution to the crisis.
“The Presidency is appealing to all its citizens as well as members of the international community to refrain from spreading false stories and inflammatory statements concerning the recent herder-farmer clashes,” the statement added.
Violence between herdsmen and farmers has for decades been one of Nigeria’s most persistent security problems.
These herdsmen have accused the local people of killing their animals, while the local populations have also blamed them for the destruction of their crops.
Scores of people have demonstrated against the killings and have called on the presidency to declare such armed herdsmen as terrorists.
But the presidency has over the years insisted that the killings are not coming from herdsmen but criminals who would not be spared when caught.