Institutional parameters that condition farmer–herder conflicts in Tivland of Benue State, Nigeria

E.T. Vanger, B.U. Nwosu

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This conceptual review examines institutional parameters that underpin farmer–herder conflicts in Tivland of Benue State, Nigeria. Anchored on the theory of New Institutionalism, it argues that tensions and conflicts between Tiv-farmers and the Fulani-herdsmen is occasioned largely by the disarticulation of the traditional institutional norms/rules of interaction by formal political institutions expressed in land use laws, West African sub-regional protocol, human rights provision of the Nigerian constitution and the Benue State law on anti-grazing. In these contrasting institutional forms, the formal political institution is prioritised by the state while farmers and herders are divided about the institutional basis of their coexistence. Farmers who host the herdsmen demonstrate preference for traditional norms of land ownership and control while the herdsmen incline towards new political/legal instruments which they interpret, purports to give them access to grazing lands and hence an alibi for rejecting institutions that contradict their claim to access spaces for pastoralism. Thus, persisting claims to the exercise of rights to freedom of movement and access to grazing land as opposed to claims to traditional rights of ownership and control of ancestral lands explain the origin and continuity of the farmer–herder conflicts in Benue state, Nigeria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-40
Number of pages21
JournalAfrican Security Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2020


  • Institutional parameters
  • farmer-herder conflicts
  • Tivland
  • Benue State
  • Nigeria


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