ONITSHA (Sundiata Post) – No fewer than 18,000 Christians especially women, children and the elderly and thousands of sacred places of worship and homes as well as lands belonging to indigenous Christians in Nigeria may be lost to Jihadist Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Middle Belt and other regions under the current Administration of President Muhammadu Buhar between June 2015 and 1st June 2023.
According to the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) in a report sent to Sundiata Post on Monday “Going by available research findings or statistics, the projected killing of over 18,000 Christians by jihadist Fulani herdsmen and destruction of thousands of homes and sacred places of worship and seizure and confiscation of tens of thousands of acres of Christian lands will outnumber the total number of Christians killed, properties including churches destroyed or lands confiscated by the terror Fulani herdsmen in the past 16 years of June 1999 and June 2015. The remaining 2000 Christian deaths, making the total deaths 20,000 are expected to come from military violence and Christian victims of Boko Haram insurgency and allied others. The projected loss would have fully occurred between June 2015 and June 2023. By 1st June 2023, the elected tenure of President Buhari must have legally ended.”
Intersociety is a
research and investigative rights, democracy and public security
advocacy group led by criminologists, lawyers, peace and conflict
resolution experts, specific and general rights activists, etc.
The full statement reads:
Under President Muhammadu Buhari who is the life patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria; the parent body of the Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, killing of Christians, destruction or burning of Christian sacred places of worship and houses and seizure and confiscation of indigenous Christian lands have recorded a geometric increase particularly since June 2015; with the Administration doing little or nothing including refusal to end the massacre and fish out the perpetrators and put them on trial.
The present central Government in Nigeria has steadily trivialised the pure anti Christian genocide, describing it as “herders-farmers clashes” and structured its security forces particularly the Nigerian Army along anti secular lines stripping same of required neutrality, competence and capability to step in and end the butcheries. Killings and property destructions and land seizures by jihadist Fulani herdsmen are solely targeted at the Nigerian Christian population particularly in the Middle Belt Region; putting the lives and safety of estimated 30 million Northern Nigerian Christians in jeopardy including constant threats to their religious freedoms, deaths, injuries, sexual violence, forceful conversion to Islamic faith and forced migration or displacement.
The re-emergence through the 2019 polls by President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nasiru el-Rufai of Kaduna State are widely viewed as a nightmare for religious freedom of Christians in Nigeria particularly those in the Middle Belt and Kaduna State. The elections that brought the duo back to power are widely held to be massively rigged and crooked. In the Kaduna State governorship poll of 9th March 2019, the total number of voters accredited to vote (1.46m) was reported to have been surpassed by the total number of valid votes cast (1.85m) with over 400,000 votes. Whipping up radical Islamism sentiments also widely heralded the election campaigns of the duo particularly in the Muslim held northern Nigeria where they were hailed as “true crusaders of Allah” for condoning pro jihadist genocide.
Governor el-Rufai’s jihadist and hateful disposition against members of Christian and other non Muslim faith climaxed way back in February 2019 when he raised a questionable and inciting public alarm claiming that “as much as 130 Fulani Muslims were targeted and massacred by some indigenous Christian elements in Southern part of the State”. When his questionable alarm was strongly challenged by some concerned bodies including SOKAPU, a southern Kaduna indigenous body, he got his fellow Muslim Army commander in the State to back his claims but failed to publicly provide statistical and pathological evidence to substantiate same; only for the State Commissioner of Police to distance himself and his Command from his unsubstantiated claims.
It was later found that the questionable alarm was raised by the governor for electoral reasons leading to seemingly government-backed coordinated attacks on some Christian villages in the state and killing of no fewer than 130 of them and destruction of over 170 houses including churches. The attacks mostly launched on the Adara indigenous Christians in Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State took place between 10th Feb and 16th March 2019.
In all, no fewer than 200 Christians have been killed since the beginning of Jan 2019 or in past two and half months of 2019; with Southern Kaduna being the worst hit with not less than 130 Christian deaths. The remaining 70 Christian deaths which occurred between last week of December 2018 and first week of March 2019 are shared by Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau and Benue States.
Killings by jihadist Fulani herdsmen have intensified, escalated and increased with wide margin since President Muhhamadu Buhari took over the mantle of leadership in Nigeria in mid 2015. The killings solely targeted at Christians are accompanied by burning or destruction of houses including Christian sacred places of worship and seizure and confiscation of lands belonging to indigenous Christians. By several research findings, jihadist Fulani herdsmen have now surpassed killings perpetrated by the Boko Haram insurgents.
Going by our several research and investigative findings, killings by jihadist Fulani herdsmen have maintained steady and shocking increase since 2016 outnumbering the death figures of the preceding years. In 2014, by the account of the Global Terror Index of the International Institute for Peace, 1,229 Christian deaths were recorded in Nigeria in the hands of jihadist Fulani herdsmen. It is also our finding that between Jan and June 2015, some 631 Christians were killed by Fulani jihadists and between July and December 2015, about 525 Christian deaths were recorded.
Further, a total of not less than 1,300 Christians were killed by the Fulani jihadists between January and December 2016. The death figures increased to 1,700 between January and Dec 2017 and further increased by almost 50 per cent to 2,400 between January and third week of December 2018; leading to total Christian deaths by Fulani Jihadists since June 2015 of not less than 5,925.
Over 2,800 Christians lost their lives to Boko Haram insurgents and “Zamfara bandits” within the period excluding not less than 970 Christian lives lost to outlawed military violence in Nigeria; bringing the total Christian lives lost under Buhari since June 2015 to not less than 9,700. For more details, see the following link for intersociety’s statement of 2nd July 2018: https://www.thenigerianvoice.com/news/267863/massacre-of-christians-in-nigeria-1750-killed-by-fulani-ji.html
That is to say that with projected Christian deaths of 2,500 in the hands of jihadist Fulani herdsmen per annum, not less than 18,000 Christian lives will be lost in Nigeria by year 2023 when Buhari’s central Government would elapse. The remaining 2,000 Christian deaths or more are expected to come from other non State actor killings such as Boko Haram and “Muslim banditry attacks” as well as military violence expected to escalate or intensify in the second term of the Buhari Administration. Totality of these brings to not less than 20, 000 Christian deaths expected to fully occur by year 2023. The exception to this projection can only occur if the central Government is judicially ousted on account of being an alleged beneficiary of the roguish Presidential Poll of 2019.
Already, a total of not less than 9,700 Christian lives have been lost between June 2015 and December 2018 to jihadist Fulani herdsmen (5,925), Boko Haram and “Zamfara bandits” (2803) and military violence (970); and in the next four and half years of the Buhari Administration or Jan 2019 to 29th May 2023 (if not ousted by courts), the jihadist Fulani Herdsmen will kill not less than 12,000 Christians with additional 2000 Christian deaths expected from three others named above; totaling not less than 20,000 Christian deaths projected to occur between June 2015 and 1st June 2023.
The number of attacks on Christian sacred places of worship and destruction or burning of houses and seizure and confiscation of lands belonging to indigenous Christians is also expected to record sharp increases in the next four and half years. By recent account of the Government of Plateau State, “1,803 mostly Christian lives were lost to jihadist Fulani herdsmen” during recent attacks (2018) in the State. On the part of the Government of Benue State, “over 600 Christians were killed in 2018 alone”. The Benue State Branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, also said that it lost over 500 churches to jihadist Fulani herdsmen attacks in recent years (2011-2017).
During the heightened anti-Christian terror days of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, over 1.3m Christians were forced to flee their homes, 13,000 churches and 1,500 Christian schools were lost to Boko Haram attacks. Over 1000 churches have been lost to jihadist Fulani attackers in the Middle Belt since June 2015 and in the next four and half years, more 1000-2000 churches will be lost with thousands of homes and indigenous lands belonging to indigenous Christians lost or destroyed. By the account of the Christian Open Doors Int’l, USA (2015), “over 13,000 churches and 1,500 Christian schools were destroyed or burnt; with over 11,500 Christians killed and over 1.3 million Christians forced to flee their homes to escape being hacked to death by Boko Haram Jihadists between 2009 and 2014”.
Over 200 Christian Lives Lost To Fulani Jihadists In The Last Two & Half Months Of 2019
Over 200 Christian lives have already been lost to Fulani Jihadists in their various coordinated and unchecked attacks launched against Christians and their settlements in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa and Taraba States. Of the total Christians killed, Southern Kaduna particularly the Adara People in Kajuru LGA are the worst hit with not less than 120 deaths between 10th Feb and 11th March 2019. Additional ten Christians were killed by Fulani Jihadists on Saturday, 16th March 2019 in Nandu-Gbok village in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State; bringing the number of Christian lives lost in the State in the past 35 days to at least 130.
By combined recent accounts of the Christian Post International (15th March 2019) and Nigeria’s Daily Post (12th March 2019), no fewer than 130 Christians were massacred in Kaduna State with over 170 homes including churches razed or destroyed. In the coordinated anti Christian attacks in the State launched by Government backed radical Fulani Islamists, resulting in 120 Christian deaths, over 140 homes including churches were razed and in the 16th March 2019 attacks in Nandu-Gbok, a Christian village in Sanga LGA of the State, 10 persons mostly women and children were killed with over 30 homes including churches razed. In all these, the State Government and security forces looked the other way and did nothing except issuing “condemnation statements” or trivialising the killings as “herders-farmers clashes”.
By the graphic account of the Adara Development Association, given through its Assistant National Secretary, Barr Luke Waziri, “first, Ungwan Barde was attacked on February 10, 2019, and nobody said anything even though those in government knew. Furthermore, the government pretended that the 11 people killed didn’t matter. Then Karamai, another of our community was attacked on 26 February with 38 people killed. While the victims were buried in a mass grave and the injured yet to recover, Ungwan Barde village was attacked again on Sunday 10th March. 17 people were killed and dozens of Houses burnt. The next day, while we were still searching for more dead bodies, Inkirimi and Dogonnoma villages in Maro were attacked. 52 people were killed and dozens injured. The smoke had barely settled when an attack was launched in the evening at Ungwan Gora (Labi Village) with dozens injured and 43 houses burnt down”.
By the account of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, 15 Christians were killed on 23rd January 2019 in Gwer West, Markudi, Guma and Logo LGAs of the State. According to him, “three days ago, four people were killed in Gwer West, two people were killed right here in Makurdi, three killed in Guma and six people were killed in Logo. The herdsmen also kidnapped people including livestock guard, adding, “I am yet to get the total figure because the council chairmen are yet to give me the details”. (See Punch Newspaper Jan 2019)
Eight Christians were killed by Muslims and 56 others injured with 36 in life-threatening conditions in Taraba State following the declaration of the incumbent Governor Darius Ishaku (a Christian) as the winner of 9th March 2019 Governorship Poll in the State, leading to widespread attacks against Christian citizens. Dozens of Christians were feared dead on 3rd March 2019 when Jihadist Fulani herdsmen in their hundreds attacked Suwa and Burukutu Christian Communities in Lamurde Local Government Area of Adamawa State. The attackers have laid siege on the communities between 4am and 8am in the morning with no security personnel on sight leading to killing of dozens and razing down of homes in their dozens.
Similar attacks were earlier on 21st Jan 2019 launched in Bare Community in Numan LGA of same Adamawa State, killing a rural Christian woman and burning down a Catholic Seminary and other homes. The slain Christian Woman was decapitated with machetes by the Jihadist Fulani attackers leading to her death. A total of 20 Christians were also attacked and killed in two separate attacks that occurred on 30th and 31st December 2018 in communities including Nding Sesut located in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State. These are just to mention but few. In other words, over 200 Christian lives have been lost in less than three months of 2019.
The import of this statement, therefore, is to alert Nigerian Christians, international democracies and human rights bodies over these impending dooms. Unless the two named figures: President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nasiru el-Rufai of Kaduna State are ousted judicially via electoral courts, otherwise, their administrations will further and unquenchably be enveloped by jihadist attacks against Nigerian Christian population in part or in whole till 1st June 2023.
Other than being ousted judicially as a key available option, the international or western democracies and rights bodies can step up sustained pressures on them to sit up and do the needful including sacking the present Chief of Army Staff and reorganising the armed forces particularly the army and police along secular lines; if not, Christians in Nigeria should prepare more graveyards years ahead or in coming years for thousands of their fateful who will be killed.
The western democracies’ visa ban and other sanctionable policies against sponsors of election violence in Nigeria should be extended to public office holders including elected officers and military chiefs and their Governments found aiding and condoning the jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacks against Northern and Southern Nigerian Christians, their homes, lands and sacred places of worship.
Finally, our timely warning and alert are in conformity with our pacifist disposition and strong opposition to all forms of radical religiosity including Islamic radicalism and reprisal radicalisation. It has always been our position that all Muslims including Muslim political actors and non state actors must accept and allow rooms for religious and ethnic harmony, tolerance and co-existence in Nigeria or any part thereof and whereby they think otherwise, all the ethnic nationalities in the country must be seated together and peacefully for purpose of resolving on how best to go their separate ways or form compatible or agreeable confederation of loose nationalities.
•Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chair; •Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., Head, Civil Liberties; •Chidinma Udegbunam, Esq., Head, Campaigns