Policy Brief: Implications of new legislation on farmer-herder conflict in Nigeria

Over the past decade, the competition for natural resources created tensions between sedentary farmers and nomadic herders in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria. These tensions frequently erupted into violent clashes. In Benue State alone, there have been hundreds of deaths, while tens of thousands have been displaced.

In response to these cycles of attacks, the Benue State Government passed legislation in May 2017 that prohibited the practice of allowing cattle to roam freely in search of pasture and water. The Open Grazing Prohibition and Establishment of Ranches Law was met with both support and opposition, with segments of the population calling it discriminatory against herders. Despite the conflicting responses, the law went into effect in November 2017.

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This policy brief looks at the implications that the law is having on the economy, social fabric, and security of the region, and makes recommendations for future action by the state and federal governments.

The report is a product of the Forum on Farmer and Herder Relations in Nigeria (FFARN), established by Search – Nigeria. FFARN is a network of leading academics and practitioners from governmental and non-governmental institutions who work on peace and conflict/security issues in Nigeria.