A total of 71 people have been killed in a week of violence in Benue State, a government spokesman said on Monday, much of it involving clashes between Fulani cattle herders and farmers. The killings endanger efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari to bring security and stability to Nigeria – a key campaign pledge when he ran for election in 2015.
Muslim herdsmen, mainly of the Fulani ethnic group, and Christian farmers often clash over the use of land in remote areas of the Middle Belt region. The Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, Terve Akase, who spoke with Reuters, attributed 71 deaths from December 31 to January 6 to killings by the Fulani. Reuters was unable to verify the figures.
“The attacks happened in very remote villages. Now, with security operatives on the ground, villagers have been going about the bush to pick up more corpses,” Akase said.