Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said herdsmen of Nigerian origin do not use sophisticated weapons such as AK-47 but only carry sticks and cutlasses.
Buhari made the claim during an interview on Arise TV.
“The Nigerian cattle rearer will not carry anything more than a stick… sometimes a machete to cut some trees,” Buhari said.
“But those sophisticated ones that go with AK-47…all the Sahel areas, people rush down to Nigeria. You know, the Fulani from Mauritania and Central Africa look the same. So they think they are the Nigerian ones.”
farmer-herder clashes are rampant in the country and are sometimes fatal.
Buhari said he has directed government officials to “dig up gazettes of the First Republic” for the identification of cattle routes to curb the clashes.
“There are cattle routes and grazing areas,” Buhari said. “You have to stay there and if you allow your cattle to stray into another person’s farm you will be arrested.”
He added that “the routes and the areas are known,” and warned that encroachers “will be dispossessed.”
Buhari said that a community-level conflict resolution system would be helpful in addressing the farmer-herder conflict.
He said he had to ask two southwest governors to resolve the problem locally using existing traditional institutions.
The president, however, frowned at criticism from the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom over the government’s proposal to create an alternative to open grazing.
“The governor of Benue State said I am not disciplining the cattle rearers because I am one of them – and I cannot refuse to say that I am not one of them,” Buhari said.
“But he is being very unfair to me.”
Buhari said he has given the military and the police the order to “be ruthless” against bandits terrorizing the northwest region of the country.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages. Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand. We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble. We are already in enough trouble. So we warn them sooner than later you will see the difference.”