From the Harvest of Yams to the Harvest of Death

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Fulani Herdsman. Photo/Viviangist.com

Some decades ago, the Agatus were prominent in the Central region of Nigeria as seasoned farmers who reap big crops, from good seedlings and guaranteed the great harvest of yams. The ability of this agrarian tribe and other tribes in Benue State: the Idoma and Tiv, earned their home state,  the title “Food Basket of the Nation”.

ethnic map of Benue State
The map depicts the full range of the ethnic groups that comprise Benue State, Nigeria. The Agatu people can be found predominately in the Northwest region of the state. Photo/ @funke_oyinbopepper

These renowned tribes who are producers of food are now at the season of harvesting death because of the Fulani nomads coming in from neighboring states, predominately, Nassarwa State to the north, who have moved into their homeland. Many lives have been lost; many people have been rendered homeless without knowing their fate.

The melee between the Fulani nomads and farmers in different parts of Nigeria, are known primarily as a result of the destruction of the farms by the cattle of the Fulani because the cattle graze on these plantations.

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The map depicts the full-range of the Fulani tribe. As a nomadic people the Fulani can be found in many different regions of West Africa and also in Central and East Africa.

The inability of the Benue State government to effectively put measures in place to pacify the community and maintain the crops has led to a series of attacks and reprisal attacks.

The result – rivers of blood that continue to flow unabated. Despite the intervention of the leaders of the warring ethnic groups, this ethnic conflict has already claimed the lives of over 400 men, women and children and has resulted in the destruction of property worth millions of naira.

There are reports of many Agatus being hacked to death on their farms, pregnant women being killed by Fulani fighters, and the killing of Fulani women, children, and livestock by the Agatu fighters further illustrates the bloodshed between the neighbors.

Hundreds of Agatus are fleeing their homes that have been invaded and destroyed. The Fulanis are also abandoning their places of residence, that have turned into a battlefield, to seek cover and a peaceful abode in nearby Bagana, a community situated in Omala LGA of Kogi State.

Viewer discretion advised: Bello Lawal uploaded this YouTube video of what he says is Agatu people in Benue State burning Fulanis alive hence the reason for reprisal attacks by the Fulanis. This may further highlight the level of violence experienced on both sides of the divide.

The silence of the Nigerian Government about all that is happening in Benue State has made people react swiftly at the President’s diplomatic commiseration with Belgium in the wake of the terror attacks just eight days ago. This situation needs to be looked into before it further degenerates into another conflagration that requires military incursion, as this ethnic conflict is rooted in a long running stand-off between the communities that has been recorded for years and is not on pace to dissipate.