Nigeria's Deadly Land Clashes

Herder with cattle in a cotton field in Katsina State in December, 2008. Image by Fred de Sam Lazaro. Nigeria, 2008.

Farmers in the village of 'Yardanko in Nigeria's northern Katsina State after their crops were destroyed by nomadic herders. Image by David Hecht. Nigeria, 2009.

Ardo Rabo is the chief of Fulani village nearby 'Yardanko who said the recent fighting between Fulani cattle herders and Hausa crop farmers is further provoked by hoodlums. Image by David Hecht. Nigeria, 2009.

Inhabitants of this village of mud houses in northern Nigeria say they woke December 12 to find 5,000 cattle chomping through their ripe crops. The grain farmers are mostly of the Hausa ethnic group while the cattle owners are Fulani nomads.

"We sent for the police and district head but in the meantime we couldn't just stand by and do nothing," said village representative Maiunguwa Garba. The dispute in this remote part of Katsina province was settled long before any law enforcement arrived.

The farmers said one Fulani fired an automatic weapon at them when they tried to protect their crops. But once his ammunition ran out the tide turned, according to Garba.

"Then we attacked the Fulani with sticks," said Garba, adding that three Fulani were killed. "We beat them to death," he said.

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