Body Counts Climb into the Hundreds from Fulani Assaults in Benue, Nigeria

It’s not an investigation that’s needed but soldiers boots on the ground.
Nigerian government and law enforcement seem totally inadequate and incompetent!
International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #241, Washington, D.C. 20006
 
 
Media Contact:
Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator
(301)-859-3842
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Radical Fulani Attacks Continue Despite Launch of Government Investigation

03/03/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – For the past two weeks, the Christian farming community in Agatu Local Government Area (LGA) in Benue State, Nigeria has experienced hell on earth. From February 22 to 24, radical Islamist Fulani herder militias have invaded the county, wildly sacking whole villages destroying homes and farmlands, and murdering hundreds.

 
Though some Nigerian news media outlets reported death tolls between 140-150, sources close to the situation in Benue told International Christian Concern (ICC) that close to 300 were actually killed, while as many as 7,000 were displaced.
 
According to local sources, the assault continues unabated, despite Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s launch of an official investigation on Monday looking into the crisis.
 
Villages attacked include Akwu, Adogbo, Ayilla, Ogboju, Okokolo, Abugba, among several others.
 
Benue State Police Commissioner Paul Yakadi told the Nigerian newspaper Vanguard that the Fulani attackers came from nearby areas. “The worrisome renewed attack on the Agatu communities by Fulani herdsmen was as a result of the alarming influx of the herdsmen into the area through neighboring towns of Naka in Gwer West local government area of Benue State, Loco and Doma of Nasarawa State, where cattle are made to swim across the water to Agatu,” he said.
 
“The Command, which was on an assessment tour of the area few days ago to identify areas that security needed to be beefed up, discovered Fulani herdsmen armed with sophisticated weapons with their cows numbering over 5,000,” he added.
 
According to local reports, Agatu villagers rejoiced at the news of the government investigation, but still, the bloodshed continues.
 
Christians Persevering in Persecution
 
Since 2001, Christian farming communities across central Nigeria continue to suffer this horrific scale of persecution, and few voices are speaking out. The crisis affects areas of as many as seven states in the region known as the “Middle-Belt,” but the most concentrated attacks have ravaged LGAs in Plateau and Benue states that carry Christian majorities.
 
While Boko Haram rightly grabs headlines for the brutal persecution that they have inflicted upon the Church in Nigeria, Middle-Belt Christian farmers and churches suffer each day feeling like they wear a target on their backs.
 
Overwhelmed by grief, a Benue pastor, Adanu, told ICC on Monday, “Even today the militia went to another village and killed 16 people. There has to be an end to this carnage!” 
 
And yet, despite the ongoing crisis, Christians in Agatu are persevering, “Middle Belt Christians are becoming [an] endangered species, but, sincerely, our God is able. Let’s get praying and working,” an Agatu resident told ICC.
 
The experience for survivors constantly shifts between fear and hope for the future. While body counts from the violence become the focus of our collective consciousness, thousands of displaced persons are left figuring out how to survive another day.
 
Agatu villagers are flocking to the Benue city of Otukpo in droves.
 
“Some of these people fled their homes without a pin. Life is unbearable for Agatu victims within Otukpo and the surrounding communities,” a local resident told ICC.
 
The past week has seen Benue suffer greatly at the hands of the Fulani militias. However, the immediate crisis only brings into focus the larger tragedy that Christians in the state, and across the Middle-Belt, have endured for far longer than when the media and government acknowledged the issue this past week.
 
According to ICC’s Nigeria staffer, from 2012 to 2013, a series of coordinated massive Fulani invasions of Agatu communities caused similar devastation, resulting in more than 50,000 people displaced.
 
“Time has come for President Buhari and his government to end the bloodshed in Middle-Belt Nigeria. The horrific tragedy ongoing in Benue simply serves to illustrate the dire need for immediate action to prevent Nigerian Christian farming communities from disappearing off the map. The prevailing narratives that focus on historical tribal struggle, turf, and resource wars no longer serve as acceptable explanations for this scale of bloodshed. While global news outlets clamor to cover the Boko Haram crisis, a more statistically significant and systematic assault on Nigerian Christians rages on without slowing down. The recent events in Benue should wake policymakers up to the urgency to act to protect lives and give voice to the voiceless suffering these atrocities,” Troy Augustine, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa said.

 

 

2/2/16 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into a recent upsurge in radical Fulani attacks on Christian communities in Benue State, Nigeria, according to the BBC. The announcement comes after a week of brutal assaults tallied reports of hundreds of deaths, including 145 killed throughout 25 villages in Agatu Local Government Area (LGA), alone.

Nigerian newspapers report that the violence displaced nearly 7,000 villagers.
Agrarian Christians across Nigeria’s “Middle-Belt” region face what some observers are calling genocide after enduring 15 years of brutal Islamist Fulani raids with countless people being slaughtered on a near weekly basis. Benue, Plateau, Nassarawa, Taraba, Adamawa, and parts of Kaduna, Borno, Yobe, and Gombe states make up the region most heavily under attack from these Islamist Fulani gangs.
 
ethnic-fulani-muslim-herdsman-wikipedia
Fulani herder.
 
“We will conduct an investigation to know exactly what happened; the only way to bring an end to the violence once and for all is to look beyond one incident and ascertain exactly what factors are behind the conflicts,” Buhari said.
Buhari expressed shock about the recent attacks. He also urged Nigerians to put aside their differences and live in peace.
“We are all one nation and one people. There should not be any reason why Nigerians of any group or tongue cannot now reside with one another wherever they find themselves after decades of living together,” he said.
“Once the investigations are concluded, we will act immediately to address the root of the problem,” he added.
Buhari’s comments come in a long pattern where Nigerian officials have failed to truly evaluate the root issues. They continue to constitute these ongoing horrific attacks only as historical tensions over land rights for cattle grazing versus farming.
On January 25, the BBC reported attacks in Adamawa State that killed 29 people as “revenge attacks,” for cattle theft, claims no witnesses ever substantiated.
“It is the longstanding issue over grazing rights and cattle rustling between Egba and Fulani people,” police spokesman Ezeala Austin said after an attack in March 2015 that killed more than 80 Christians in Plateau State.
Peace will never take root as long as these voices continue to assign part of the blame for these atrocities to the Christian farmers who are clearly victims, continually.
Even if unconfirmed reports of cattle theft were proven true as catalysts for vengeance, the scope and scale of human suffering the Fulani have waged across Nigeria’s Middle-Belt represents such a vastly disproportional response. Therefore, the explanation lacks reasonable credibility.
Ongoing Persecution in Benue
The recent spike in Benue is nothing new to the state. Ground sources in Nigeria tell International Christian Concern (ICC) that in a three year span from 2012 to 2014, Fulani herders attacked more than 300 villages in Benue alone.
The past week’s attacks are sadly just another increase in a long line of violence Christians face in Benue.
ICC has learned that Fulani herders murdered nine people and injured 12 in assaults on Mbaya and Mbaapen villages in Bukuru LGA in early January. The violence reportedly also displaced more than 1,000 people and resulted in immeasurable property loss through burned homes.
“I narrowly escaped being killed by the attackers,” a local government official in Bukuru told ICC.
While Boko Haram continues its terrible attacks on communities in northeastern Nigeria, the Fulani herder onslaught in the Middle Belt continues unabated, claiming nearly as many lives and causing a similar toll of destruction on churches and Christian homes.

“The level of brutality that Fulani herders continue to barbarously wage towards Nigerian Middle-Belt Christian communities cannot be understated. ICC condemns this systematic, ongoing depopulation of the region within the highest order of human tragedy and atrocity. Fearing Christians face constant threat of fire, machete, and gunshots as each of these attacks tells the same tragic story. We must not allow the frequency and heightened brutality Christians continue to endure in this region to desensitize us to the real human loss and suffering they experience. Nigerian officials should follow their first mandate in protecting all Nigerians against violent threats to life and property, whatever the source, instead of allowing these crimes to continue unpunished and conveniently explained away through the lens of resource wars and historical tribal tensions,” ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Troy Augustine, said

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s