SPECIAL SERIES: Sharing stories of despair, hope, and survival from herdsmen attacks across Nigeria

by Festus Iyorah

The memories of the dead—butchered like animals –  and of the survivors still living in pains haunted me days after I travelled to Nimbo in Enugu state where suspected Fulani herdsmen killed about 40 people and injured more in April 25, 2016.

After the attack, I travelled to the community nestled almost two hours away from the university town of Nsukka to write a story about the incident for a popular Nigerian newspaper. What followed me home was more than the story.

It was more than the sensational headlines that were posted on the social media. It was beyond the banner headlines that graced national dailies front pages. It morphed into a bigger collection of narratives that demanded to be told from a human interest angle. That was the beginning.

That was when I decided to tell the world the stories of the victims – from the hundreds whose lives were claimed by the pastoralists-farmers crises in 2016, to the survivors, yet to recover from the attacks.

I also investigated the socio-economic effects of the conflict; how the silent, under-reported skirmishes in affected states in Nigeria, especially Benue, have resulted in a sharp decline in food production, causing the prices of foodstuffs to increase.

And then, I had to embrace a series of questions left unasked for far too long; what are the causes of the farmer-herder conflicts? How we can solve the find lasting solutions to the central problems at play?

For this seven-part series titled ‘Herdsmen Hazards’, I travelled to affected agrarian communities in Enugu, Nasarawa and Benue states to tell the untold stories of victims plagued by the nomadic pastoralists-farmer crisis. With the assistance of analysts interviewed, I unraveled the reasons behind this lingering crisis and how it could be solved.

Editor’s Note: The stories go live from 9am WAT today.

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