National Security, Property Rights, and Development in Nigeria: How Should the Leviathan Resolve Herder-Farmer Conflict?

In: African Journal of Legal Studies
Chidebe Matthew Nwankwo Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus Nigeria
Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria Abuja Nigeria

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The spate of violent clashes between nomadic pastoralists and agrarian communities in Nigeria raises a number of legal and policy questions that had been long overlooked. Issues arising from the phenomenon range from questions over constitutionally guaranteed rights such as the right to own property, to questions over the inadequacies of Nigeria’s security apparatus as well as calls for land use reforms. Additionally, due to the groups affected and the scale of casualties, the topic has become a political molten magma. The constant conflicts between nomadic pastoralists who are majorly from the Fulani ethnic group, and agrarian communities from other parts of the country have reached unprecedented levels leading to accusations of coordinated attempts at land grab, ethnic cleansing, jihad and insurgency, threatening the country’s security and stability in the process. Fiscally, the destruction of lives and property and the state of insecurity emanating from the clashes stood at $16 billion in potential revenue as at 2018. In no small measure have these clashes been precipitated by climate change and the consequent drought in the Sahara region. This paper analyses the role of the Nigerian state in balancing the interests of affected groups in the clashes and promoting development. At its core, it seeks to identify legal and policy gaps that require filling to put a definite end to the lingering crisis.

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