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The study focused on the determinants and effects of criminal activities by Fulani herdsmen on farming communities. Awka North was chosen as the study area. The study had the following specific objectives: find out the socio-economic determinants that influence criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen on farmers, identify the kinds of criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen, examine the effects of criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen and examine the possible measures to be adopted in curbing Fulani herdsmen criminal activities on farmers in the area. Deprivation, frustration and aggression theory was adopted as the theoretical framework. In the sampling procedure, purposive and random sampling techniques were used. Information was elicited using questionnaire and IDI guide. Data gotten from the field were analysed using frequency distribution tables and percentages. Two hypotheses were postulated for this study and they were tested using the chi-squre (X2) statistics. The study revealed that cattle trespass and destruction of crops, competition over land and encroachment into grazing land are the major determinants of criminal activities y the Fulani herdsmen to the farmers in Awka North LGA of Anambra State. The study also revealed that displacement of farmers, frustration, loss of lives and erosion are the major effects of criminal activities by the the Fulani hersmen to the farmers in Awka North LGA of Anambra State. The researcher recommends that there should be creation of grazing reserves to avert constant conflict between herders and farmers; there should be restocking with sound stock (sheep and goats) to offer best prospects for rapid economic growth of cattle herdsmen; there is need for the educational interventionist role of the extension service in farmer/ herdsmen conflict etc.


1.1  Background of the study

it is probably unarguable that resource ownershipand utilization have directly and indirectly defined the dimensions of most conflicts involving man since time immemorial (Adisa & Adetunde, 2010). Of all resources, however, land has remained an overshelming source of conflict among  various user groups as well as individuals at varying thresholds. In particular, conflicts between farming communities and herdsmen in the use of agricultural land and becoming fiercer and increasingly widespread in Nigeria, largely due to “intensification and extensification” of production activities that are necessitated by increasing human population (Gefux Kolawole, 2005; Fasona x Omojola, 2005).

            The vital role of agriculture in the development of the economies of third world nations, including Nigeria, is undeniable (Eastwood, Kirsten x Lipton, 2007). Nigeria, with a population of about 140 million people, occupying a land area of 923,773 square kilometers continue to benefit immensely from agricultural production activities. With about 82 million hectares of arable land, out of which only 42% is so far cultivated, agriculture (crop and animal production) contributed between 31.2% and 39.2% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 1986 and 1995, and over 40%  between 1999 and 2006 (National Economic Intelligence Unit, 2007). Dwindling economic furtunes the need to reverse high foof importation bills and the ever-increasing demands for food and raw materials continue to exert more pressures on the arable lands which incidentally are required by both farmers and cattle herdsmen for their production activities (Adisa x Adekunle, 2010).

            The resultant increase in competition for arable land has often times led to serious manifestation of hostilities and social friction among the two-user groups in many parts of Nigeria. The conflicts have not only heightened the level of insecurity but have also demonstrated high potential to exacerbate the food crisis in Nigeria and other affected countries due to loss of farmer lives, animals, crops and valuable properties (cotula, Tonliun x Hesse, 2004). For instance, the conflict in Darfur region of sudan started as a resource.based conflict between herdsmen and farmers before transforming into a full-blown war that claimed over 200,000 lives and rendered over a million people homeless (Famine Early Warming Systems Network (FEWS-NET), 2007). Just as in the Sudan, farming and cattle-herding respectively are predominantly associated with distinct ethnic groups.

            Clashes between pastoral and farming communities linked to disputes over grazing land have become frequent in parts of south-east Nigeria in recent years. Some analysts have blemed the trend on increasing desertification which is pushing herders southwards in their search for pasture often putting them in conflict with farmers (Olabode x Ajibade, 2010). The activities of these Fulani herdsmen in some communities have thus become a source of great worry to the people of the zone (Okoli x Igata, 2014). The people are worried that Fulani herdsmen have continued to kill, maim and rape women in most of the routes where they pass with their cattle for grazing. Okoli and Igata (2014) revealed that most of the herdsmen carry sophisticated weapons like AK47 and pump-action double – barreled riffles as they move about with their cattle and could attack, rob or maim people at will.

            Criminal tendencies of killing, robbery, rape, maiming and kidnapping by the cattle herdsmen have inflicted pains on most farmers, even as farm produce have been drastically affected. Farmers, living in fear, have scampered to safety in desperate bids to avoid being hacked down by the rampaging herdsmen (Nkwopara, Okoli, Igata x Okutu, 2015). Cattle rearing and cattle rearers have over the years contributed their own quota to the economy of the south-east and the country at large. The place of Fulani herdsmen is inevitably important as they have sustained the production and sales of meat in markets across the country. However, despite their diverse importance, the recent activities of Fulani herdsmen in the south-east obviously threaten the life and existence of those living within their areas of grazing, especially in the rural areas. Over 70 percent of the people in the zone who are domiciled in rural areas, engage in subsistent or commercial agricultural activities as their mainstay. But the recent increasing threat posed by Fulani herdsmen is rocking the fabric  of their fundamental existence (Nkwopara et al, 201). It is not in doubt that there is hardly any community in the south-easth geo-political zone where you will not find Fulani herdsmen. What is however most  disturbing to farmers and land owners is the way they forcefully colonize, kill, main and allow their cattle to destroy farm crops wherever they set their feet.

            The activities of these herdsmen in some communities in Anambra State have become a source of great worry to the people. This is because of the huge damage the cattle inflict on crops and farmlands in these rural communities which the breeders illegally and brazely colonize as grazing grounds (Okoli, 2014). Nkwopara et al (2015) revealed that, besides the damage on crops and other farm produce, the aggressive nature of the Fulani herdsmen is more of concern to any community they invade. They are always armed to the teeth with dangerous weapons, including AK47, charms and deadly sharp daggers and matchets and are often ready to attack the farm owners at the least confrontation.

            It is the imperativeness of the foregoing description that the researcher is particularly interested in investigating how the above problems affect the public in the society and how to find better approach to addressing the variables that could lead to criminal activities by Fulani herdsmen in Awka North, Anambra State which is the study area for this research work. \

1.2. Statement of the Problem.

            There have been clashes between Fulani herdsmen and the aborigines in several paorts of Nigeria over three decades. The clashes are occasioned by the destruction of agricultural farms of the aborigines by the cattle of the Fulani herdsmen (Abugu x Onuba, 2015). Naturally fulani’s by their nature are migrants who leave their traditional abode in serach of greener pasture for their flocks. The migration is caused by the absence of good and veritable land for their flock to feed on (Abugu x Onuba, 2015). For instance, the rate of desertification and deforestation in the Sahara desert is at an alarming rate and Nigeria is part of the countries of the Sahel region that experiences drought, desertification and deforestation. These triadic challenges mentioned above forced the Fulani herdsmen who occupoy the area to migrate down south for greener pasture for their cattle to graze. In the course of entering the shores of the southern region of the country, their cattle couse great damage to farmlend, resulting to conflicts and confrontation with the indigenes (Abugu x Onuba, 2015).

            Conflicts between farmers and herders have always been a common feature of economic livelihood in West Africa (Tonali, 2006). Herders bring their cattle from the arid and semi-arid areas to the forest zones  in which Anambra state is situated, in search of pasture that is available almost throughout the year. However, prior to the beginning of the 20th century, clashes were not experienced in the zone. This is because herders kept their animals away from farming areas most of the time and thus reduced the incidence of livestock destroying crops (Tonah, 2006: Ofuoku, 2008). During  those times too, cattle population were low in the humid and sub-humid zones of West Africa. the low human population, the high number of wild animals, and fear of losing animals to diseases, especially trypanosomiaseis, prevented herders from settling permanently in the humid zone (Blench, 1994).

            There is consensus among observers that farmers – herder clashes have only since the 20th century become widespread in the coastal  countries of West Africa (Tonah, 2006). Factors that account for the increasing farmer –herder conflicts include the southward movement of pastoral herd into the humid and sub-humid zones; the successful control of the menace posed by  diseases; the widespread availability of veterinary medicines; and hitherto served as pasture land (Tonah, 2006). Furthermore,d it is widely acknowledged that since the 1950s, there has been a considerable growth in human as well as livestock population in the coastal countries of West Africa. The result has been a growing pressure on natural resources and a staff competition for available resources between farmers and herders (Adebao, 1997; Breusers, Nederlof x Van Rheenen, 1998).

            In the south-East, while farmers are concerned with food production, using land as both factor of production and source of livelihood, herdsmen are in dare need of arable land for grazing, as a source of livelihood for themselves and their cattle. Hence, competition associated with access to arable land provides the basis for violent confrontation, which has led to deaths, huge population displacements and destruction of property (Kwaja, 2015).

Across the Southern states, patterns of deaths through violence and deadly attacks between farmers and herdsmen stemming from encroachment into farmlands, struggle over grazing space, and other forms of criminality continue to put communities at risk of violence and deaths on a daily basis. This situation poses a serious security threat to the lives and livelihoods of the people, amidst the inability of security agencies to adequately provide the much needed security for the people. Moreso, when associated with an inadequate justice administration, these weaknesses have contributed to fostering a climate of impurity for such violence. This situation makes the farmers versus herdsmen conflict a serious challenge that manifests into real threats to human and national security, absenta comprehensive plan to tackle it aggressively.

            Some of the major drives responsible for the frequent confrontations between farmers and herdsmen have to do with population dynamics, namely the high population dynamics, namely the high population growth rate in Nigeria, increased livestock that is estimated at 19million cows, 45 million sheep; and 35 million goats (Kwaja, 2015). Thus, the need to catter for these animals, in a country that is confronted with an increasingly small space for grazing, leads to frequent encroachments on farmlands by herdsmen, which in turn lead to violet confrontation with farmers. Despite the fact that grazing routes were created in the past, urbanization has led to a situation whereby these routes have been tampered with. For instance, only 141 grazing reserves out of the 415 initially established wree gazette (Yusuf, 2014).

            Pastoral conflicts in the country are becoming more organisized and coordinated (Durueke, 2014). Many attacks are now carried out in the nights when the natives have gone to sleep or odd hours, like when the people have gone to their  periodic markets. Herdsmen have started using modern weapons like ak47 in their attacks. At times the attackers wear military uniforms masquerading as soldiers. In recent times, herdsmen do not stop in killing; they barn houses and destroy farmlands, thereby increasing the losses of the affected communities. The burning of houses by herdsmen is swelling the population of the homeless in the country and it also increases  the cost of reliabilitation (Durueke, 201). Some of the farmers/herders clashes include the Agutu killings in Benue state, clashes in Edo state: killing of Chief Ofulue Edward in Delta state etc.

            The increasing wave of pastoral conflicts in the country constitute serious threat to food security in the land. Apart from destroying farmlands, which force the farmers to lose their farm produce to the attacking herdsmen, farmers in communities that are prone to pastoral conflicts or along the routes of herdsmen are increasingly getting discouraged with farming as they count their losses more then their gains. It is beyond dispute that presently our country still depends largely on the rural farmers for the food needs of its teaming populace (Uzoezie, 2014).

Pastoral conflicts, like other violent conflicts, unleash severe social problems as it disrupts community life, which takes time to get back because long lasting and permanent solutions are not usually put in place by government.

            It is in view of the above problems that this work is undertaken to examine the role of socio-economic variable in determining the nature of criminal activities  by the Fulani herdsmen in Anambra state with Fulani herdsmen in Anambra State with particular reference to Awka North which is the study area for this research work.

1.2  Research Questions

Based on the foregoing, the following research questions are considered necessary to guide this study.

a.       What are the socio-economic determinants of criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen in Awka North L.G.A in Anambra State?

b.      What are the kinds of criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen in Awka North LGA in Anambra State

c.       What are the effects of criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen in Awka North LGA in Anambra State?

d.      What are the possible measures to be adopted in the prevention of Fulani herdsmen criminal activities on farmers in Awka North LGA in Anambra state?

1.3  Objectives of the Study

The general objectives of the study is to find out the socio-economic determinants that influence criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen on farmers in Awka North LGA in Anambra State.

The specific objectives are as follows:

i.                    To identify the kinds of criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen in Awka North LGA in Anambra State.

ii.                  To examine the effects of criminal activities by the Fulani herdsmen in Awka North LGA in Anambra State.

iii.                To examine the possible measures to be adopted in the prevention of Fulani herdsmen criminal activities on farmers in Awka North LGA in Anambra State.

1.5. Significance of the Study

This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoreitically, the study will reveal the socio-economic factors behind the criminal activities of herdsmen to farming communities. This study will also help to form a basis for further researches in this area. Again, the outcome of this study will provide, enhance and enrich the existing body of knowledge on farmers-herders conflict. Therefore, this research work will be of great value to students in Nigeria as a point of reference.

Practically, the findings of this study will be useful and of interest to every facet of society. Te contents and findings of this study will help the society to outlive this unwanted phenomenon. This research work will proide data which will assist in reducing the rate of criminal activities by the herdsmen. The outcome of this study will be useful to government as well as  policy makers, non governmental organizations (NGOs), social scientists and other stakeholders on the problems of farmers-herders conflict. Finally, it is hoped that the findings, recommendations and solutions that will be made in this study shall serve as a guide or a reference point that will assist different tiers of government and other stakeholders to unravel the socio-economic factors that influence criminal activities by the herdsmen in Awka North LGA in Anambra State in particular and Nigeria generally.

1.6. Definition of Terms

The definition of terms in this study becomes necessary to avoid vogue, unclear and ambiguous terms. The following terms will be operationalized.

Activity – This simply refers to something done as an action or a movement..

Arable land – This means suitable land for growing crops.

Communities – These means groups of people that share a common understanding, language and law.

Conflict – This refers to a violent clash between two opposing groups.

Criminal – This means someone who acts against the law.

Criminal activities: These mean those actions that are against the law.

Determinant – This simply means element that ascertain the nature of something.

Effect: This refers to outcome of a cause.

Farmers – These refer to persons who work the land on a farm.

Farming – This simply means the business of cultivating land.

Farming communities – These refer to groups of people that share a common understanding. Language and law who are into the business of cultivating land.

Farmlands – These refer to lands which are  suitable for farming and agricultural production.

Fulani – This refers to a group of people (tribe) found mostly in North-east of Nigeria.

Fulani herdsmen – These mean persons from Fulani tribe who tend livestock especially cows.

Pastoral –This means a person who keeps animals in the village setting.

Pastoral conflict – This simply means a violent clash between those who keep animals and others who do not.

Resource – This refers to something that are uses to achieve an objective/aim.

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