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Nigerian Army sends more troops to Plateau

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By Abraham Adekunle

COAS flagged off special operation to tackle herder-farmer clashes.

There has been a series of disputes over arable land resources across the country between the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen and the mostly Christian non-Fulani farmers. The disputes have manifested in the form of violent clashes and attacks, reprisals and more. Unfortunately, the Middle Belt region, recognised in Nigeria as the North Central geopolitical zone, has witnessed most of these conflicts since the advent of the Fourth Republic. The attacks by herdsmen have heightened recently.

This has resulted in thousands killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Markus Artu, an official in Mangu district of Plateau State, said that an estimated 80,000 persons have been internally displaced within the state. They live within 11 camps in the local government area. Mangu district has been one of the epicenters of the recent violence with villages ransacked and farmland destroyed. Victims are mostly Christian and often belonged to the numerous tribes in the northern part of Nigeria, including Adara, Berom, Jukun, Tiv, Tarok, and Hausa.

General Lagbaja launches operation to stamp out violence in the state.

Since May, the region in the central part of Nigeria has seen a surge in attacks and violence among mostly Muslim nomadic herders and Christian farming communities. The state government has said that it has left around 300 people dead. Because of this, Nigeria Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Taoreed Lagbaja, visited the district on July 22, 2023, to mark the start of the special operations that will “stamp out” the violence.

The operation was launched to restore normalcy across vulnerable communities in the state. For this mission, three hundred special troops were deployed to the local government and ordered by the COAS to exercise rules of engagement in restoring total peace to the various communities. As this goes on, camps situated at a primary school in Mangu shelter about 18,000 of the displaced, according to one of the camp coordinators Yamput Daniel. The state emergency response agency has delivered aid to the victims who are mostly local cattle herders.

Regional commander temporarily relocates HQ to Mangu.

Speaking to news correspondents on the issue, one of the displaced said that the crisis has rendered them homeless. In her words, “Our farmland has been destroyed and we are left to manage our lives here in this primary school.” Most of the IDP have no food and everyone must fetch water from a well that does not provide enough for all. In the same vein, a displaced woman in the district also added that it would be better if the government deployed troops to the villages so that the displaced can go back to their normal lives.

In response, the regional commander of Plateau’s Operation Safe Haven campaign relocated its headquarters temporarily to Mangu and deployed an extra 300 troops to the district with armored vehicles. Army chief Lagbaja told the troops that when communities make distress calls, the Army is obligated to respond as soon as possible. Failure to do so will impact not only the lives of the farmers but also the availability of food in the market. As more farmers are displaced, less food is produced, making the price of the insufficient quantity skyrocket.

President Tinubu has had to address a number of security challenges.

One of the major security challenges that the president is faced with today are the clashes. The trigger of the most recent attacks in Plateau remains unclear. Tensions between herders and farmers over land and resources often spiral into tit-for-tat village raids by armed gangs who kidnap, loot and kill. Meanwhile, the president has addressed dedicated graduates of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Senior Course 45. Commending their commitment to security, he urged them to join him in leading the nation towards peace, prosperity and justice.

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