Nigeria: More than 50 livestock farmers dead after explosion

Dozens of breeders and passers-by were killed and many others injured in the north central Nigeria due to an explosion that the authorities said yesterday Wednesday that they believe was terrorist attackwas due to a “bomb”, but a livestock association official claimed it was due to an airstrike army raid.

The deadly explosion happened Tuesday nighton the borders of Nasarawa and Benue states.

Representative of a national association of livestock breeders NigeriaTassiu Suleman, said a group of Fulani herdsmen were transporting cattle to Nasarawa from Benue, where they had been seized by the authorities for violating grazing laws, when the explosion occurred.
“At least 54 people they were killed instantly. The injured were countless,” added Mr. Suleman.

North central Nigeria, also known as Middle Belt (“middle zone”), has for about a century been a focus of tension between pastoralists, who are often Muslim, and farmers, many of whom are Christian. Although conflicts are usually over pasture and access to water, they often take on tribal and religious dimensions. The conflicts have been exacerbated by the population explosion in Nigeria and the climate change.

The governor in Nasarawa state, Mr Abdullahi Sule, did not give an account of the casualties, but told reporters that the deaths were due to a bomb. It did not say who was believed to have planted it, but said it was working with security services to ensure “de-escalation” of the deadly incident.

According to a spokesman for the governor, there was a mass burial of the victims earlier yesterday.

Earlier, the police in the state he spoke of 27 dead due to the “bomb” explosion, but warning that there were also “many injured” and that “the death toll could rise”. He added that an investigation is being conducted into the case.

For his part, a representative of a breeders’ organization spoke of a blow by the Nigerian army.

“Air raid”;

“It was an airstrike,” said Lawal Dano, who also belongs to the national cattle breeders’ union, Miyetti Allah.

“We know that only the army has airplanes (…). We call for it to happen in-depth research and to impose the necessary penalties on those who were behind this” blow, he added.

A spokesman for the Nigerian Air Force did not respond when AFP tried to reach him for comment.

In the past, there have been heavy military strikes with civilian casualties, especially in northern Nigeria, where the armed forces are facing jihadists and gangs of thugs.

Him September 2021, an aerial bombardment accidentally hit a village in Yobe state, killing at least nine civilians. The Air Force had explained that the mistake was made during pursuing jihadists.

In January 2017, at least 112 people were killed when a plane hit a camp for people displaced by jihadist violence in Rann, a town near the border with Cameroon.

In a report released six months later, the military attributed the fatal error to “a lack of proper marking in the area.”

The insecurity in Nigeria is a central issue of the campaign ahead of the presidential elections to be held at the end of February, in which, by virtue of the Constitution, the outgoing head of state, the Muhammadu Buhari, general e.a. who was elected in 2015 and re-elected 2019will not be a candidate.

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