At least 1000 people reportedly held demonstrations and blocked roads in town of Makurdi, the capital of Benue state, on Wednesday, January 3. The demonstrators were protesting the killing of around 50 people by suspected Fulani herdsmen on Tuesday, January 2, and denouncing the government’s failure to effectively address the problem; many of the demonstrators were carrying signs calling for President Muhammadu Buhari to resign. Participants reportedly barricaded the major roads into and out of the city, causing significant traffic congestion, and have vowed to continue their protests until the government takes action. Another protest was reportedly planned for Thursday. Related transportation disruptions, increased security, and the potential for violence should continue to be anticipated in the coming days.
Also on Wednesday, authorities announced that eight people linked to the Benue attacks had been arrested. Regional police officials stated that additional units will be deployed in troubled areas in Benue state to prevent further violence.
Intercommunal clashes are common in Nigeria, especially between nomadic and settled communities. A recent uptick in attacks launched by suspected herdsmen on settled communities has followed the implementation of an anti-open grazing law in November 2017. These kinds of clashes have been known to break out in the central Middle Belt region - e.g. in Plateau, Bauchi, Benue, Kaduna, and Nassawara states - as well as in the south, where casualties are regularly reported.
Individuals in Benue state are advised to monitor developments to the situation and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
In general, the security environment in Nigeria is complex and is particularly concerning in the northeast and extreme south of the country due to the presence of armed groups, high crime rates, and the risk of kidnapping. Some Western governments consequently advise against travel to certain areas of the northeast (e.g. states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, and Jigawa as well as parts of Kano and Adamawa states) and the southern Niger Delta region (e.g. states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers). Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel to these areas.