Nigeria imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in central Plateau state after least 70 people died in communal clashes between farmers and semi-nomadic herders.
Strife in the decades-old conflict escalated sharply this year, particularly in the ethnically and religiously diverse hinterland states known as the Middle Belt, causing more deaths than the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria’s north-east.
“Government has enforced a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am to bring normalcy, police and other security operatives have been put on alert at the moment,” Plateau State’s Commissioner of Information Yakubu Dati told Reuters.
Communal violence between herders and farmers, which originated partly over dwindling fertile land, spiralled into a cycle of violence and reprisal attacks killing hundreds this year in the Middle Belt.
Insecurity os a major electoral problem for President Muhammadu Buhari, who plans to seek re-election in February and who won power on pledges to deliver peace and stability.
“This further strengthens my constant call for an overhaul of the entire security apparatus of this country,” Yakubu Dogara, leader of Nigeria’s lower house of parliament, said in a statement.
“It just isn’t working,” he said, adding violence posed a serious threat to Nigeria’s democracy.
Buhari’s party rejects criticism his administration is soft-peddling justice for herders, who belong to the same Fulani ethnic group as the president.