Media practitioners were drawn from the print, electronic and the new media (social media) to discuss salient issues that were raised in the different presentation at The Forum on Farmer and Herder Relations in Nigeria FFARN media round-table in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The round-table was organised by Search for Common Ground through its project The Forum on Farmer and Herder Relations in Nigeria FFARN
The forum engaged media practitioners and peace building actors to discourse ways forward in understanding the dynamics of the farmer/herders’ clashes better and enhance a better and objective reportage.
In one of the presentations entitled Past is Prologue: Criminality and reprisal attacks in Nigeria’s Middle Belt suggested the Farmer/herders’ clashes in the country are a resource based conflict which was linked to resource competition brought about by some natural factors such as in desertification.
The report further suggested that clashes are more of criminality than religion, noting that criminal elements operate under the guise of religion to carry out the killings.
Other factors listed in the report are political influences, conspiracy theory, Environmental influence and lack of knowledge of history by the new generation.
SEEKING SECURITY AND STABILITY
The issue of Seeking Security and Stability: An Analysis of Security Responses to Farmer/Herder Conflict in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria, topped most of the deliberations
Meanwhile how the security apparatus in the country have been responding or have responded to the conflict were also highlighted.
The constitutional role of the police is to maintain internal peace, preserve laws and order and protect lives and property, the Military have also been deployed within the country to ensure the safety of Nigerians as the situation seems to be beyond the police.
The report says “despite the police mandate as lead agency for internal security, the government has also deployed the military to respond to these internal crises because of its severity and the lack of police capacity to adequately respond”
In response to the crises, the Nigerian Government launched various military operations in the region such as Special Task Force (STF), Operation Safe Haven OSH, Operation Harbin Kunama (Scorpion Sting) l and ll, Operation Ayemakpatuma (Cat Race) and Operation Whirl Stroke (OWS).
The special task force comprises efforts of the Military and other security agencies in the country such as the police, the Nigeria and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Department of State Services.
The Military operations launched so far, their work specifications and what the operation has achieved or is achieving was also discussed.
The participants engaged in round of discussions particularly on the Benue State open grazing prohibition law that was signed into law in 2017 which prohibits open grazing in the State.
While some parties believe that the law is one sided and against certain ethnic group others believe the law bring sanity to the system and a welcome idea.
The notion that the media fuels the crises with their reportage was also addressed as the question of reporting facts and applying a certain level of diplomacy in reportage was also raised.
Catherine Agbo a representative of the Nigerian Guild of Editors is of the opinion that journalist report events as they see them and journalist should not be made to report falsely.
Another journalist, Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche who is also the Chairman of Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter, advised participants against taking side in their reportage.
Director of Digital Media, Voice of Nigeria, Hajia Sani challenged participants to thrive to understand what they report for accurate reportage in order to prevent misleading the public.
It is expected that the media round-table will further broaden the understanding of some journalist on the dynamics of the farmers/herders’ clashes and better inform the public through their reportage.