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>> 73 people who were killed in criminal violence in the first week of this year in central Nigeria have been laid to rest at a mass burial here in the city of Makurdi. My name is Alexis. I'm the writer's bureau chief in Nigeria, and I'm reporting from Makurdi, which is in the central state of Benway.
Benway, which is in the middle of Nigeria, is the state worst hit by communal violence which has pit semi-nomadic groups of mainly Fulani herdsmen against more established farmers who are mainly Christians.
is situation has become politicized in large part because president Muhammadu Buhari is himself from the Fulani ethnic group. Now Buhari's team have rejected any suggestion he is in any way biased and is not cracking down on this problem of intercommunal violence.
And it's increasing largely because of desertification. So many of these northern-flung herdsman have less and less space in the north, and they're moving down into the central regions and they're fighting over dwindling fertile land with the established farmers. There were three days of mourning in the state, and as you can see, this burial has been well-attended.
There are people in the trees watching. There have been thousands of people lining the streets throwing wreathes. Dressed in black.
The reason why partly this is such a big issue is because we've entered the election cycle. The preamble to the 2019 elections, which will take place in February of next year. Buhari hasn't said yet whether he intends to run for presidency, but others who are now jockeying for position are using situations like this to say that he might not be fit purpose.