Fulani herdsmen murder 1,082 in four months, killed more than Boko Haram since Buhari assumed office – UK Christian Group
United Kingdom-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has disclosed that Fulani herdsmen killed 1,061 people in about 106 attacks on communities in the North Central between January and April 2018, adding that another 21 people were killed during attacks on communities in the southern parts of Nigeria by the Fulani militia.
“The Fulani militia is believed to have killed more men, women and children in 2015, 2016 and 2017 than Boko Haram, in what local observers increasingly describe as a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing,” the CSW said.
In the CSW’s latest report, equally obtained by THISDAY, the organisation said, “During the first quarter of 2018 CSW documented 1,061 deaths in 106 attacks by the Fulani militia on communities in Adamawa, Benue, southern Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba states, with an additional 17 lives lost in attacks in the south of the country. CSW also documented seven instances of violence targeting Fulani herders or communities in which 61 people lost their lives; two of these attacks occurred in the south of the country. The recent deaths in Plateau State bring the number of casualties recorded so far in herder militia attacks in central Nigeria in the second quarter of 2018 to 440.”
The organisation said the figures were obtained by its offices in the United Kingdom and in Nigeria using organisational records, a timeline issued by the Office of the President of the Nigerian Senate, #MiddlebeltMassacres in Twitter, news sources, and the United States-based Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker. It further noted that there was more to the violence going on in Nigeria – often referred to as “farmer-herder clashes” – than meets the eye.
The report added, “However, attacks by herder militia are currently occurring with such frequency, organisation and asymmetry that the characterisation as ‘clashes’ no longer suffices. Armed with sophisticated weaponry, including AK-47s and on at least one occasion, rocket launchers, the herder militia is believed to have killed more men, women and children in 2015, 2016 and 2017 than Boko Haram, in what local observers increasingly describe as a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing.”
CSW also said it had documented over 400 deaths in 46 attacks during the second quarter of 2018. In one of the most recent, at least 200 people were reported to have died in coordinated attacks on around 50 communities in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area in Plateau State, which began on June 22 and lasted until June 24, the report said.
The majority of victims of the Barkin Ladi attacks were said to be women and children. The CSW report noted that 120 people were killed as they returned from the funeral of an elderly member of the Church of Christ In Nations (COCIN).
Speaking on the violence, CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, accused the Nigerian government of refusing to fish out the perpetrators of the violence. Thomas called for the formulation of a holistic security strategy to address the violence and other threats to national security as a matter of urgency.
“CSW extends its deepest condolences to all who have lost loved ones in the weekend of attacks in Plateau State. It is worrying that the authorities appear more focused on controlling victim communities than on tracing, disarming and arresting the perpetrators of this violence. We urge the state and federal governments to prioritise the protection and rehabilitation of vulnerable communities, and to refrain from victimising them further,” Thomas said.
He added, “The number of attacks and casualties is staggering, and illustrates the appallingly high price communities in central Nigeria are paying for the absence of an effective official response to a force that not only constitutes a threat to national security, but also to national unity. We urge the government to guarantee the safety, protection and right to life of all Nigerians, regardless of creed or ethnicity.”