More than 200 people were killed in violence against farming communities last weekend in Plateau state, central Nigeria, according to a speech by the governor published yesterday.
The police, who blame suspected cattle herders, have said 86 people were killed. However, multiple local sources from the communities affected maintained more than 100 people died.
The main association representing the largely nomadic herders has denied any involvement.
The violence -- an apparent reprisal after ethnic Berom farmers allegedly killed five Fulani -- is the latest bout in months of bloodletting in Nigeria's so-called "Middle Belt".
The clashes are rooted in tensions over access to land between the pastoral herders and sedentary farmers but have generated sectarian friction between Muslims and Christians.
Lalong suggested "criminal elements" were exacerbating hostilities, including "conflict merchants" involved in "cattle rustling, theft, banditry, gun running" and other crimes.
Both he and Buhari have also warned about politicising the conflict or giving it a religious dimension.