By M. Peter – Jos

In order to prevent violent conflicts between herders and farmers in the Middle Belt region, peace builders from Plateau, Benue and Nasarawa states have solicited effective collaboration among the states in the region, saying such would combat impunity and restore peace among citizens.

The stakeholders drawn from traditional institutions, faith-based organisations, women groups, farmers and herders groups, youth groups, security as well as government ministries, departments and agencies at a two-day regional peace architecture dialogue unanimously called for government actions against perpetrators of violence to serve as deterrent to other conflict merchants.

The meeting, organised by Search for Common Ground, a non-governmental organisation with funding from the Kingdom of the Netherlands saw the participants giving diverse views on how to end the recurring menace in the region.

Herders, farmers collaborate to end crisis in Middle Belt Group photograph of some of the stakeholders at the meeting.

Earlier, the Senior Programme Manager of the organisation, Olutoyin Falade noted that the meeting was a part of the project tagged: “Transforming the farmer and herder conflicts and promoting freedom of religions and beliefs in Nigeria’s Middle Belt”, which seeks to contribute to prevent violence between farmers and herders in the region.

She stated the specific objectives of the project are, “to increase collaboration between farmer and herder communities; to develop joint, effective, sustainable local mechanisms for early warning response, dispute management and violence prevention and mitigation at the community levels.

“To strengthen implementation of rule of laws and accountability measures by the government of focal states and relevant federal government institutions to respond to and prevent violence resulting from farmers/herders conflicts at the state levels.

“To enhance public understanding of the farmer/herder conflicts by promoting sensitive contents and countering hate speech, stereotypes, biases and negative narratives that fuel violence.”

Falade noted that there is increased commitment by farmers and herders to peace as “there were some cases of cattle rustling and farm encroachments that were handled non-violently,” stressing that, “search is poised for greater achievements through the contribution to reducing violent conflicts in Nigeria and the Middle Belt in particular and seeks more partnerships and collaborations to achieve the aim.”