(Lagos-Nigeria: 2nd July 2018)-Nigeria’s drift to faith genocide through “killing, maiming, burning and destruction of churches and other sacred places of worship-and forceful seizure and occupation of ancestral, worshipping, farming and dwelling lands of the indigenous Christians and other indigenous religionists in Northern Nigeria” has worsened with loss in six months of 2018 of no fewer than 1,750 Christian and other non Muslim lives to terror Fulani Ethnic Militia-a.k.a. Fulani Herdsmen.
No Fewer than 8,800 Christians have also been targeted and killed in Nigeria in the past three years or June 2015 to June 2018. The Christians killed in Nigeria since then got killed by (a) security forces-1,014 (out of 2,265 killed including 1,130 members of Shiite Muslim sect), (b) Fulani Jihadists-5,275, (c) Boko Haram insurgents-over 2,450 (out of no fewer than 4000 killed) and (d) Zamfara Bandist-80 (out of no fewer than 160 killed in Kaduna State along Birnin Gwari Federal Road and its surroundings in six months of this year targeted at travelers and other road users).
From our general evaluation, too, no fewer than 2,360 innocent Nigerians were killed by Fulani Jihadists-1,750, Boko Haram-250 and Zamfara Bandits-360 in first six months of 2018 (Jan-June 2018)-and no fewer than 13,221 defenseless Nigerians also got killed by the trio as well as the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force & ors in the past three years.
Nigeria further loses no fewer than 3000 uninvestigated and untried detained citizens in police custodies every year-to police racial profiling;and many, if not most of the victims are members of the Nigerian Christian faith drawn from Southeast, South-south, Southwest and old Middle Belt Regions of Nigeria. No fewer than 9000 of such killings may most likely have taken place in Nigeria in the past three years in police detention facilities particularly those manned by Police SARS and State CIDs. The above figure was built on previous research or investigative findings by this organization and ors which established that average of 250 citizens die monthly in police custodies in Nigeria through custodial torture and shooting carried out under the colour of “crime detection” and “criminal investigation”.
If added to 13, 221 deaths cumulatively arising from non state actor Ethno-Jihadist violence and state excessive use of violence against defenseless citizens in the last three years; Nigeria must have lost a total of 22, 221 mostly Christian lives in the past three years or between June 2015 and June 2018 under the present central Government of Muhammadu Buhari. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army major general, was inaugurated as Nigeria’s sixth civilian President on 29thMay 2015 for first term of four years which elapses on 29th May 2019.
Over 3000 Christians have also been critically injured and among them, scores have died owing to terminal injuries sustained or lack of adequate medical treatments; with a number of others incapacitated or crippled for life. Not less than 100 churches and other sacred places of worship belonging to Christians and other non Muslims have also been burnt to ashes or destroyed in the past six months of 2018 (Jan-June). The number of churches and other sacred places of worship destroyed or burnt to ashes in the past three years are not less than 1000 and they did not include over 13,000 burnt or destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents between 2009 and 2014 as contained in the 2015 special report of the Open Doors Int’l Report, USA.
Statistical Breakdown of 1,750 Christian Deaths: From our general evaluation of the killings by terror Fulani Militia (a.k.a. Fulani Herdsmen), Benue State recorded the highest number of rural Christian and other non Muslim deaths in first six months of 2018 with no fewer than 600, followed by Plateau State with 400; Taraba 250; Nasarawa 200; Southern Kaduna 100, Adamawa 100 and Kogi State 100; totaling no fewer than 1,750 Christian and other members of non Muslim population.
The total death toll in Plateau State following the 23rd and 24th June 2018 coordinated attacks and killings in eleven villages may most likely have hit 300, from its present 250, out of which 218 bodies have been recovered and buried in mass graves. The activists on the ground said dozens of people are still missing after the head count was carried out. Those still missing are presumed to have died. This is more so when they are not among the injured and survivors.
The 218 recovered and buried dead bodies, according to Middle Belt activists and authorities of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) included 80 recovered from Nhyer, 40 from Exland (G/Akwati), 34 from Ruku and 5 from Kuzen, all under Gashish District; 34 from Gana Ropp, one from Razat, one from Takwot and 2 from Rakwot all under Ropp District. Eight dead bodies were recovered from Shonong under Bachi District; and one from Kwi under Riyom District. Other recovered and buried dead bodies were 2 from Heipang and four others killed by soldiers in Anguldi and one from K-Vwang areas; totaling 218 as at Wednesday, 27th June 2018.
Statistical Breakdown of 13,221 Deaths including 8,800 Christians: Between June 2015 and June 2018, a period of three years, a total of not less than 13, 221 defenseless lives were lost to: (a) terror Fulani Ethnic Militia or Jihadist group-Christian 5,275 lives, (b) Boko Haram-4000 lives, (c) Nigerian Army/Nigerian Air Force & ors-2, 265 lives and Zamfara Bandits-1, 500 lives; totaling 13,221; involving 8, 800 Christians and 4,420 Muslims.
The Nigerian security forces particularly Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force had in the past three years ordered and supervised the killing via aerial bombardment, starvation to death and shooting to death of: (a) 450 pro Biafra Christians and non Muslim others in Southeast and South-south (August 2015-September 2017), (b) 236 Christian IDPs in Kale-Balge in Borno State (Jan 2017), (c) 50 rural Christians Numan, Adamawa State (December 2017), (d) 240 civilian detainees at Giwa Military Barracks in Borno State (2016), (e) 1,130 members of Shiite Muslim sect in Kaduna State (December 2015) and (f) 159 children in Northeast Nigeria (2017); totaling 2,265 civilian deaths.
Terror Fulani Ethnic Militia or Jihadists (a.k.a. Fulani Herdsmen) had in the past three years killed: (a) not less than 525 rural Christians and other non Muslims between June 2015 and January 2016; (b) not less than 1300 Christians between February and December 2016 including Agatu, Nimbo and Southern Kaduna massacres involving no fewer than 1,200 Christian and other non Muslim deaths; (c) not less than 1,700 Christian deaths in 2017; and (d) no fewer than 1,750 Christians in first six months of 2018; totaling 5,275 Christian deaths since June 2015.
Terror or Jihadist Boko Haram group, which solely targeted Christians and their sacred places of worship since 2009 had between May 2015 and May 2016 recorded the highest number of mostly Christian casualties since the inception of Buhari Administration by killing 2,569 persons. This was contained in the Punch Newspaper special investigation report of 28, May 2016: http://punchng.com/b-haram-fulani-herdsmen-kill-3000-buhari/ . The reduction was said to have been caused by divisions within its ranks and alleged withdrawal of supports by some northern radical political actors; forcing remnants of the violent sect to pitch tent with radical Islamic Movement in West Africa.
The Jihadist terror group had its killing and maiming records declined between June and December 2016 when it killed about 300 mainly Christians. The violent sect also between January and December 2017 killed no fewer than 861 people including 411 children killed via bomb blasts and 450 others killed in over 75 attacks. These were contained in AI and UN reports of 2017 and 2018 respectively. The Jihadist sect has so far killed no fewer than 250 persons in first six months of 2018. On its part, the Zamfara Muslim Bandits also accounted for no fewer than 1,500 civilian deaths mostly in Zamfara State since June 2015. The terror Bandits have killed no fewer than 360 in first six months of 2018 including killing of not less than 160 mostly travelers and other road users in Kaduna State; among them were not less than 80 Christian travelers and other road users.
Back-up Statistics from Various Research Findings: The above figures were arrived at after critical evaluation of various recent reports within and beyond Nigeria concerning the country’s untamed killing spree in the past three years as well as re-evaluation of our previous research or investigative findings. For instance, by the recent account of the United States Council on Foreign Relations, “no fewer than 19,980 killings took place under the present Buhari Government in the past three years” and “Fulani Herdsmen Militia killed 1,061 people (Christians) in 106 attacks in Nigeria between January and April 2018”-a period of past four months.
The US Council on Foreign Relations’ report did not specify whether the figure of 19,980 deaths included victims of police brutality or custodial killings or victims of violent crimes (i.e. armed robbery, rape and related domestic violence or abduction) or automobile accidents in Nigeria. Also by the account of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide, UK, “Fulani Herdsmen Militias have killed more men, women and children in 2015, 2016 and 2017 than Boko Haram”. The report says “rare retaliatory attacks against Fulani Herdsmen militias resulted only in 61 deaths in seven attacks including two in Southern Nigeria”. See This Day Newspaper of 1st July 2018.
By the account of the Government of Benue State, dated 30th June 2018, “over 500 rural Christian lives were lost to Fulani Herdsmen Militia in Benue State alone in the first six months of 2018”. The State Government had earlier on 22nd May 2018 during the burial of two slain Catholic Priests and seventeen other Catholic faithful killed by Fulani Jihadists in late April disclosed that it lost 492 rural Christians between January and 3rd week of May 2018”.
Further, by the account of Amnesty Int’l, given at end of last month, “we verified 1,813 deaths across 17 States in Nigeria involving Fulani Herdsmen-Farmers clashes”, banditry and Boko Haram”. By recent report of the United Nations Secretary General: “Children & Armed Conflict”, “out of 881 children killed or maimed in Nigeria in 2017, 570 were killed, out of which 411 were killed by Boko Haram and 159 others killed by Nigerian Security Forces: Boko Haram killed or maimed 570 children while Nigerian Security Forces killed or maimed 311 others”.
The death of 570 children in Nigeria’s Northeast did not include 411 Boko Haram insurgency related deaths in 75 attacks which Amnesty Int’l reported in early December 2017. No fewer than 40 others were killed by the Jihadist sect between early and end of December 2017. The authorities of This Day Newspaper have on 30th April released an investigative report chronicling the killing perpetrated mostly by Fulani Jihadists of 901 defenseless citizens between January and April 2018. The statistics included 50 innocent citizens shot dead by dare devil armed robbers in Offa, Kwara State, North-central Nigeria. About 850 of the victims are members of Nigerian Christian faith.
Patterns & Trends of Fulani & Boko Haram Jihadist Violent Attacks
There are killing of more men, women and children including newborn, infants and pre-primary school children, all of Christian faith and non Muslim others by Fulani Jihadists particularly in Middle Belt Region of Nigeria; than those killed by Boko Haram Islamic insurgents-between June 2016 and June 2018. The Fulani Jihadists solely target Christians and their sacred places of worship or churches in their nearly 15yrs Jihadist violence, which escalated with more sophistication and government complicity since June 2015. As a matter of fact and since the inception of Muhammadu Buhari Administration in late May 2015, Boko Haram Islamic insurgents had only out-killed terror Fulani Islamic Militia between late May 2015 and late May 2016 when the former killed no fewer than 2,559: http://punchng.com/b-haram-fulani-herdsmen-kill-3000-buhari/ .
Boko Haram and Fulani Jihadist terrorism are fueled by Islamic radicalism in Northern Nigeria. Like Boko Haram violence which started way back in 2002 in Borno State as rag tag local banditry, Fulani Herdsmen violence was also rag tag-perpetrated with primitive weapons such as cutlasses, arrows, swords, knives and hunters’ guns; which occurred erratically in the past and was devoid of military sophistication such as use of trained mercenaries and automatic weapons and government protection or backing; as presently the case. Such rural grazing violence of the past usually occurred in response to host communities’ protests over destruction of their farmlands via grazing.
In recent years particularly since 2004 and 2010 respectively, the ranks and leaderships of the duo of Boko Haram and Fulani violent groups got infiltrated, hijacked, militarized and turned into modern Jihadist brigades for politico-Jihadist purposes by radical Islamists within the Northern Nigerian political establishments including some serving and retired security top-shots as well as some present and former political office holders from the zone. The mother body of Nigeria’s cattle herders-the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) was also hijacked politico-religiously.
It was widely believed that Boko Haram project was raised to undermine and destroy the former central Government of Goodluck Jonathan-a Christian; while Fulani terror project was raised to deepen, if not totally Islamize the whole of Nigeria in coming decades. This was recently attested to by the National Christian Elders Forum-a group of retired experts from various fields including former top government and security officials; which disclosed that “there may be no Christians in Nigeria by year 2043”.
The patterns and trends of violent attacks by the duo of Boko Haram and Fulani Jihadists or violent groups clearly show that both of them target for killing and destruction, members of Nigerian Christian faith and their sacred places of worship or churches. Over 95% of human and property victims of Boko Haram insurgency between 2009 and 2014 were Christians and their churches, among which were over 13,000 churches and 1,500 Christian schools destroyed or burnt; over 11,500 Christians killed and over 1.3 million Christians forced to flee their homes to escape being hacked to death by BH Jihadists (Open Doors Int’l 2015).
Owing to devastation and uprooting of most Christian villages in Northeast and fleeing of over 1.5 million Christians in the area as at 2016 as well as killing of tens of thousands of them, sizeable number of Muslims have presently joined its victims’ ranks. Muslims before 2016 were sparsely killed collaterally or as violent retaliations by the violent Islamists for loss of its combatants and commanders during security forces’ counter insurgency operations. Today, victims of Boko Haram insurgency are approximately divided between 30%/70% with Christians taking about 70% and Muslims about 30%.
Further attestation of ongoing Fulani Jihadism in Nigeria particularly in old Middle Belt of the country is the reckless and untamed manner with which churches destroyed or burnt to ashes by Fulani Jihadists are being rebuilt and converted to Mosques or Fulani settlements; likewise indigenous lands violently seized from indigenous Christian communities and others ancestrally owned by other non Muslims. A clear case in point is in Plateau State where lands and communities violently annexed and taken over by Fulani Jihadists in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, etc are today occupied and renamed by the Jihadists. The following link gives more details of the untamed violence against Christian lands and properties in Northern Nigeria particularly in Plateau State: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/06/plateau-shocker-herdsmen-rename-communities-grabbed-indigenes/ .
Government’s Complicity & Characterization of Fulani Killings as “Cattle Herders/Farmers Clashes”: President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to hold sway and refused to relinquish his position as the life or grand patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN)-a body corporate federally registered in Nigeria as well as parent body of Fulani Cattle herder/jihadists in the country. This has fueled the President’s conflict of interest, sentiments and bias and grossly undermined his capacity as the President of the country to lawfully and decisively deal with the violent group including proscription of MACBAN and arrest and prosecution of its leaders and combatants as well as disarming of its jihadist brigades.
The Fulani Jihadism and other violent activities of the MACBAN parented jihadist herders and widely suspected presidential involvement or complicity are totally not different from the violent activities of the Sudanese Janjaweed (Sudan’s main nomadic camel and cattle herders) against the black people of Sudanese Darfur Region and the involvement and complicity of the Islamist central Government of Gen Omar Hassan el-Bashir, leading to his indictment by the ICC in 2009.
In Nigeria and since June 2015, the Muhammadu Buhari central Government had been strongly accused by many of adopting nomadic-jihadism of the Fulani Ethnic stock as a national food and security policy, which has grossly disrupted and undermined Nigeria’s largely subsistent food production particularly in the Middle Belt region-an area usually referred as the food basket of the nation. The disruption occurred through targeting and ceaseless mass murder of Christians of Middle Belt and seizure or annexation and takeover of their ancestral lands and destruction of their farmlands and farm produce. Acute food shortage (locally produced food items) is already predicted to take the center stage in Nigeria in coming months especially in 2019.
Fulani Jihadism is also fueled or promoted by the present central Government of Nigeria through gross lopsidedness in the composition of security and justice establishments in Nigeria whereby out of twenty-one top headships of the country’s top security and justice positions, eighteen are occupied by members of Fulani-Hausa ethno-religious stock; among them are radical Islamists. Fulani Jihadism is further fueled in government circle by official characterization of massacre of Northern Nigeria’s rural Christians as “herders/farmers clashes”.
The central Government not only deploys all its human and material resources in boldly and openly defending the jihadist group, but has also forced or castrated some supposedly independent government establishments such as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) into doing nothing and rising in open defense of the Jihadist group over its atrocious conducts including perpetration of crimes against humanity. The main aim of Government’s false characterization is to divert the public attention, embolden and escalate the attacks. For instance, see the following link for a recent statement of the new Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, titled: Benue & Plateau Killers May Not Be Fulani Herdsmen: https://punchng.com/benue-plateau-killers-may-not-be-herdsmen-nhrc/ .
There have been several accusations leveled against the central Government of Nigeria by some State Governors, officials of the indigenous associations from the victims’ communities, retired Army chiefs and Christian Association of Nigeria, etc, strongly accusing Federal Government and its security agencies of partisanship and complicity in the ongoing massacre of Christians and destruction of churches. In most cases, Government declines to heed emergencies including taking preemptive and preventive measures to forestall the attacks against Christians and their sacred places of worship. Government deliberately and conspiratorially deploys its security forces and war arsenal after the attacks to protect the attackers and not the victims.
Security agencies are in most cases found going after victims including getting them arrested and labeled “perpetrators” while providing safe corridors for the attackers or Fulani Jihadists. Few victims who rarely engage in self defense or property torching revenge are pursued and arrested by security agencies; hurriedly charged for culpable homicide or attempted murder or malicious destruction of properties and hurriedly convicted and sentenced with maximum punishment using Islamist judges; while the attackers who massacre innocent others in thousands and at will, are protected, emboldened and shelved from criminal liability. See the following links for more details: http://saharareporters.com/2018/06/26/soldiers-arrest-five-burning-fulani-community-herdsmen-who-killed-18-earlier-attack , http://nigerianpilot.com/5-to-die-by-hanging-for-killing-fulani-herdsman/ .
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Email: [email protected] , [email protected]
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Email: [email protected]
Chinaza Ndidiamaka Bernard, Esq.
Head, Int’l Justice & Human Rights Program
Email: [email protected]