Vice President Yemi Osinbajo opened the dialogue with the hosting of traditional rulers from Adamawa to a meeting at the State House in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo Musdafa, the elder statesman, Malam Ahmed Joda and other leaders of the Fulani communities also attended.
At the meeting, previous reports on the conflict were presented and causes discussed.
The participants condemned the most recent acts of violence, especially the killing of 20 persons including children and women in Benue state on New Year’s Day by herdsmen.
“There is nothing much more important now, in showing our leadership beyond preventing tragedy and destruction of everything we have built as a nation’’, Osinbajo told the meeting.
He went on: “The entire Nigeria enterprise is bigger than other interests. The overall objective is ensuring that our nation is not enveloped by another crisis.
“We now have an opportunity to do something. We have the opportunity to resolve the issues, and to build a nation where we and our children can live in peace.”
Meanwhile, as youths take to the streets in their thousands to protest the recent killings, the Police in Benue have confirmed the arrest of eight herdsmen.
Police public relations officer in the state Moses Yamu announced on Wednesday in Makurdi: “Eight herdsmen, six in Guma and two in Logo have been arrested in connection with the attacks.”
He added that the Police made additional deployments to the troubled area to forestall further occurrence and restore public confidence.
Thousands of youths have taken over major roads in Makurdi, capital of Benue state, and started bonfires to protest the January 2 herdsmen attack on farmers.
The protesters carried placards such as “Presidential intervention needed”, “Why value Cows over Humans”, “Stop this incessant bloodbath”, and called on the presidency to bring the culprits to book.
The state Governor, Samuel Ortom, confirmed the killing of 20 people, and has called on the Federal Government to avert further destruction of lives and property.
He said nine of those killed were official livestock guards who were to ensure the full implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law.
The law was not targeting any ethnic group, Ortom said, and wondered why the herdsmen had taken it so personally to the point of unleashing terror on the people.
The governor also lamented the unwarranted wanton destruction of life and property by the herdsmen. No matter the intimidation and killings by the herdsmen, the law would not be reversed or repealed, he declared.
Violent deadly clashes involving livestock herders and farmers are a common occurrence in Africa, and have been reported in places as far apart as Ethiopia and several countries in West Africa.