Nigeria: The Killing Fields of Fulani herdsmen

By Gabby Ogbechie, The Property Gazette 

Human life, especially the life of the Christian in Nigeria is worth much less than that of a cow. Bishop Matthew Kukah said that much recently at a book presentation in Sokoto, North-West Nigeria after two Catholic Priests and some members of their parish were slaughtered in cold blood by murderous Fulani herdsmen.

With Elections due in 2019, coupled with the desperation of the utterly and hopelessly failed attempt of General Muhammadu Buhari and his APC at governance, every attempt is being made by the ruling party to ensure that despite the woes which have befallen them because of the cluelessness of the APC to govern; that Nigerians must be made to re-elect Buhari by coercion.

The maxim of the Fulani butchers, and by inference that of the APC is, “re-elect Buhari, or die”. Thrèe years ago when Buhari was desperately seeking to oust President Goodluck Jonathan from office, the APC in its desperation employed a variety of arsenals against the then ruling PDP, amongst which were:

  1. The despatch of President Obama’s political strategist, David Axelrod to Nigeria as Candidate Buhari’s Strategic Planner;
  2. The Anti-corruption campaign of the APC which was employed in the demonization of the ruling PDP members as kleptomaniacs;
  3. The “Change” mantra which sounded like a magic wand back then that would turn all undesirables to desirables;
  4. The promise to perfect the security apparatus which, as he insisted, would commence with the prompt defeat of Boko Haram;
  5. The emergence of Pastor Osinbajo as the Vice Presidential nominee by Muhammadu Buhari and the effect of the ensuing photo-ops of the APC candidates with the revered Pastor E.A. Adeboye, the General Overseer of candidate Osinbajo’s RCCG; and
  6. The unleashing of the destructive and murderous Fulani militants commonly known as Fulani herdsmen on hapless Nigerians, in addition to the Boko Haram terrorists who had carved a path of slaughter through the non-Hausa-Fulani, North-East states of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and Taraba.

Has the Buhari Administration done well enough to deserve a second term? Without mincing words, the answer to the foregoing question is a resounding NO! That is the general consensus and response anyone would receive from the average Nigerian. However, for the purposes of this write-up, let’s examine this poser from the viewpoint of the abovementioned bullet points:
* Before the Presidential election in 2015, President Obama’s political Consultant, David Axelrod, by His own admission visited Nigeria to consult for Muhammadu Buhari, obviously at the behest of President Obama.

The same President Obama who had embarrassed President Jonathan and Nigeria by refusing to sell arms to Nigeria to execute the war against Boko Haram, exposed his resolve for a regime change by dispatching Axelrod to work with APC’ s political organisation about how to gain as much political mileage as possible.

Axelrod, undoubtedly succeeded because Obama’s resolve to replace Dr. Goodluck Jonathan with Mohammed Buhari, the self-acclaimed Islamic fundamentalist who saw everything from the standpoint of Islam and others won, and the hapless Jonathan, who could have cancelled the election on the basis the underage voting pattern in the North-West and North-Central States, conceded and made way for the advance of Buhari’s jihadist agenda.
* To put some substance to his anti-corruption objective, Buhari, on assumption of office clamped down on a number of PDP stalwarts who have been repeatedly demonized as having stolen billions of dollars and Naira and what have you. Some were paraded and taken in and out of courts and back to detention.
Others like Allison Madueke, we were made to understand, were fugitives from the law and resident in such places as Britain, USA, etc. These are nations that would readily have such fugitives repatriated, but the government has not demanded their repatriation; but would rather herald us with the fact that they are kleptomaniacs.
Another curious angle to President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign is the fact that the definition of “the corrupt” circumscribes people of the opposition only. Within his own ruling APC, there are former State governors who virtually bankrupted their states to fund Buhari’s campaign, and who are currently serving in his cabinet. Such former governors have been conveniently allowed through the sieve of Buhari’s anti-corruption net.
Moreover, there is a leader of the party from the South-West whom Forbes magazine described as the biggest landlord in Africa; and who basically transferred his state’s assets to himself, and owns almost every formerly State owned, money making asset; having had them converted to self for pittance in most cases. How the government’s anti-corruption drive could be characterised as successful is beyond us, given that for example, the $500 million the US government has recently agreed to repatriate to Nigeria was the same Abacha loot which the Obama administration refused to release to Nigeria under President Jonathan.
Again, despite the name calling which has been the order of the day since the Buhari Administration assumed office, no single conviction has been secured. Patriotic non politicians like myself would love to see every thief in Nigeria in jail, irrespective of their party affiliation or what zone or state they come from.
* The Change Mantra.

Candidate Buhari sold himself to the Nigerian electorate on the basis that he would deliver changes to the electorate on various problems which had seemingly become perennial. Among such promises are:

  1. To end the reign of Boko Haram insurgents who have terrorized Nigeria all through the Jonathan presidency;
  2. To improve the economy to the extent that the Naira would convert with the dollar at par value;
  3. Ending the fuel scarcity syndrome;
  4. That power generation problems would come to a permanent end;
  5. That he would provide security for all. The attainment of any of the promised Eldorado has remained a mirage thus far. Things have become so bad that Nigerians openly wish that they would have been better off the way things were during the Jonathan Administration.
  • The Security Situation

Well before the assumption of the Buhari Administration, accusations of being part of the Boko Haram problem was an accusation that virtually circumscribed most of the prominent political leaders of the Hausa-Fulani stock. Buhari himself had been reported several times in the past as rebuking the Jonathan Administration for killing Boko Haram terrorists.

It was not a surprise therefore that barely months after assuming power, the Buhari government announced that it had defeated Boko Haram, and was basically releasing those terrorists back into civil society with claims that such terrorists had been reformed. However, with increased raids on cities in Borno, Yobe and other North-East states, and the sacking of a number of military installations, the government was forced back to reality.

Boko-Haram
As the Boko Haram terrorists ravaged the North-East, the Fulani herdsmen/militants intensified their terror campaign all over the Middle-Belt, South-East, South-West and South-South states. Typically, what the apologists for the Fulani militants characterise as “Farmers-Herdsmen” clashes commence with the herdsmen, who are usually armed with AK 47 Rifles and other pump action assault weapons lead their cattle into farmsteads, and ransack barns; cutting stacks of yam and cassava tubers into tiny, chewable bits which they subsequently feed to their cattle.
In the process of feeding such cattle, if the farm owner is unlucky to be around and dare to enquire why his yam barn was being converted to food for cattle, such farmer would be shot at the spot. All the made up tales of farmers-herders clashes are figments of the imagination of the apologists of the Fulani militants. This writer had a personal experience which is worth retelling here. It was mid-January 2017 when I visited home for the funeral services of someone close to my family. With some time on my hands, I resolved to visit my family’s farmland which was about a kilometre away. On arrival, I couldn’t find any of the plantain and banana trees my brother had spent hundreds of thousands of Naira planting some couple of years back, and which they had been harvesting. In addition, I discovered that our land and the other farmlands had been deliberately set on fire.
Just as I left the edge of the land and walked towards the wall of a nearby Secondary School, a herd of all-white cattle made its way into my farmland. Were I to have sought an explanation from the malams as to why my farmland had been ravished and set on fire, those herdsmen would have shot me dead. It is no longer safe for anyone to go to farm in the besieged non-Fulani states in Nigeria; that much I realised at that very moment.

Image gallery thumbnail

Image gallery thumbnail
After the spate of killings that had gone on in the centrally located Benue State, General T.Y. Danjuma, a respected retired General, a Tiv who was instrumental in helping the Hausa-Fulani consolidate power in Nigeria, was compelled by quirks of conscience to advise Nigerians to defend themselves as the Army was more or less helping the herdsmen in their terrorist attacks.
Following Danjuma’s statement, the spate of killings by herdsmen experienced a hike: between March and April, according to the statistics supplied by the Inspector General of Police, about …were killed in Benue State alone by Fulani militants. The break-down of those killed are as follows:

.     TIMELINE ON KILLINGS IN MIDDLE BELT SINCE JAN 1

.     · January 1 – 73 killed in Logo and Guma LGAs in Benue
· January 1 – 2 killed in Awe LGA, Nasarawa
· January 1 – 25 Killed in Keana LGA, Nasarawa
· January 3 – 3 killed in Markurdi, Benue State
· January 4 – 6 killed in Wukari in Taraba
· January 4 – 1 killed in Gassol LGA, Taraba
· January 5 – 4 Killed in Lau LGA, Taraba
· January 5 – 15 killed in Tse Akombo, Tse Vii and Tse Agule vilages in Benue
· January 6 – 55 killed in Lau LGA in Taraba State
· January 8 – 3 killed in Sardauna LGA, Taraba
· January 8 – Two policemen killed in Logo, Benue State
· January 13 – 10 killed in Birnin Gwari LGA, Kaduna
· January 13 – 1 killed in Makurdi LGA, Benue
· January 14 – 1 killed in Bassa LGA, Plateau
· January 14 – 1 killed in Ibi LGA, Taraba
· January 16 – 5 killed in Madagali LGA, Adamawa
· January 16 – 5 killed in Guma, Logo and Okpokwu LGAs Benue
· January 18 – 11 killed in Madagali LGA, Adamawa
· January 21 – 1 killed in Barkin Ladi LGA, Plateau
· January 21 – 6 killed in Juman LGA, Adamawa
· January 23 – 9 killed in Ardo Kola, Adamawa
· January 24 – 4 killed in Kaiama, Kwara
· January 25 – 15 killed in Bassa LGA, Plateau
· January 26 – 3 killed in Bassa LGA, Plateau
· January 26 – 2 killed in Ukum, Benue
· January 29 – 1 killed in Guma, Benue
· January 31 – 1 killed in Jema’a LGA, Kaduna
· January 31 –9 killed in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna
· February 1 – 4 killed in Gassol, Taraba
· February 2 –10 killed in Song, Adamawa
· February 5 – 2 killed in Guma, Benue
· February 6 – 8 killed in Obi, Nasarawa
· February 8 – 6 killed in Shellen, Adamawa
· February 10 – 2 killed in Benue
· February 10 – 3 killed in Bassa, Plateau
· February 11 – 4 killed in Jema’a, Kaduna
· February 12 – 2 killed in Guma, Benue
· February 26 – 12 killed in Kajuru, Kaduna
· February 27 – 20 killed in Demsa, Adamawa
· March 1 – 15 killed in Saradauna, Taraba
· March 4 – 20 killed in Saradauna, Taraba
· March 5 – 25 killed in Okpokwu, Benue
· March 7 – 2 killed in Takum, Taraba
· March 8 – 11 killed in Bassa, Plateau
· March 9 – 9 killed in Bokkos, Plateau
· March 12 – 26 killed in Bassa, Plateau
· March 13 – 7 killed in Guma, Benue
· March 13 – 1 killed in Lokoja, Kogi
· March 14 – 32 killed in Daima/Omala, Kogi
· March 14 – 6 killed in Bassa, Plateau
· March 15 – 5 killed in Takum, Taraba
· March 19 –10 killed in Omala, Kogi
· March 20 – 11 killed in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna
· March 22 – 3 killed in Jos South, Plateau
· March 24 – 5 killed in Makurdi, Benue
· March 30 – 6 killed in Jema’a, Kaduna
· April 4 – 6 killed in Chikun, Kaduna
· April 4 – 4 killed in Takum, Taraba
· April 4 – 10 killed in Gwer West, Benue
· April 5 – 5 killed in Dobga, Taraba
· April 5 – 30 killed in Gwer West, Benue
· April 5 – 50 killed in Offa, Kwara*
· April 7 – 4 killed in Bali, Taraba
· April 7 – 2 killed in Agatu, Benue
· April 8 – 5 killed in Birkin Ladi, Plateau State
· April 8 – 5 murdered in Obi, Nasarawa
· April 8 – 4 killed in Keana, Nasarawa
· April 9 – 1 killed in Guma, Benue
· April 10 – 10 murdered in Benue
· April 10 – 51 killed in Wukari, Taraba
· April 12 – 2 killed in Markudi, Benue
· April 12 – 2 murdered in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna
· April 13 – 5 killed in Bassa, Kogi
· April 14 – 4 killed in Logo, Benue
· April 14 – 78 murdered in Obi, Nasarawa
· April 17 – 1 killed in Logo, Benue
· April 18 – 4 killed in Bassa, Plateau
· April 19 – 1 killed in Kutigi, Niger
· April 19 – 1 killed in Gwer West, Benue
· April 20 – 31 killed in Guma, Benue
· April 25 – 19 killed in Gwer East, Benue
· April 25 – 38 killed in Guma, Benue
· April 25 – 7 killed in Awe, Nassarawa
· April 28 – 14 killed in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna
· April 29 – 5 killed in Gwer West, Benue
There are 36 States in Nigeria. With the exception of the core Hausa-Fulani states, the killings have gone on with relish in the rest of the states. In the Middle-Belt area, as seen from the foregoing report, about 936 people were killed between January and April 2018.

The statistics above pertain to the killings in the Middle-belt states of Benue, Niger, Nassarawa and Plateau. So many other deaths have been largely unreported.  It would be right to say that “while Rome burned, Nero had not only fiddled away”, but in this case, has received accolades from a world that thrives on “fake news”.

*. The Choice of Pastor Osinbajo as Buhari’s Vice Presidential candidate The choice of Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and a Professor of Law by the duo of Buhari and Tinubu was the greatest coup against the Body of Christ in Nigeria, and Nigerians in general. It deprived the Yoruba of the ability to see through what obviously was a scheme of the Hausa-Fulani to capture the Presidency, using them as willing tools. The most devastating of that ploy was to emasculate a section of the Church into voting Buhari, given the widespread belief that ailing Buhari might, midway into his term, go the way of Shehu Musa Yar’adua and drop the Presidency into the laps of another Yoruba man.

Well, Buhari has ‘ailed’ through his term thus far, but has disappointed the expectation of many. Unfortunately, Osinbajo’s presence in the Buhari Administration has, sort of legitimized most of the wrongdoings of the government, given that time and again, Pastor Osinbajo has tried to defend the indefensible.

Security in the light of the Fulani herdsmen onslaught
Security was tops of what candidate Buhari promised he was going to take permanent care of if elected. Just before the Presidential election in 2015, President Jonathan, in the realization that his reluctance to deal with Boko Haram decisively, instead of endearing him to the Hausa-Fulani and ensuring some votes from that ethnic zone, found out that such uninformed resolve had rather birthed the twin problem of Fulani-herdsmen who had become more emboldened in the killing spree throughout the length and breadth of the non-Fulani zones, notably the north-west, middle-belt and the entire south.

In the run up to the 2019 Presidential elections, the Buhari administration, in the opinion of most watchers of both the economy and the administration, has paid deaf ears to the butchery by Fulani-herdsmen, and had rather chosen to characterize such atrocities as ’’herders-farmers’’ clashes. He said that much during his meeting with President Trump in Washington DC recently.

The Buhari administration has sponsored three different bills in order to steam-role herdsmen objective, and ultimately the domination of Nigeria by his tribe, the Fulani. First was the Grazing Bill which sought to annex any parcel of land anywhere in the Federation on which any herdsman choses to graze and rest his cattle for the exclusive use of such herdsman. The bill backs such annexation with stipulations which make it impossible for a farmer or any land owner to have his day in court, let alone get back his land.

Next was the Grazing Colony Bill. This bill’s intent was for the Federal government to annex vast parcels of land all over the federation. Naturally, a plurality of the southern states, along with states in the north-east and middle-belt zones rejected the bill’s intent, and embarked on enacting anti-colony laws, just as they sought to introduce anti-grazing bill.

The third in the series and the most recent is the Waterways Bill which seeks to annex all lands close to the waterways in every part of the federation by the Federal government for the exclusive use of the cattle Fulani. The bill furthermore, as reported, would abrogate the Land Use Act. In essence, in spite of the fact that Nigeria earns about 90 percent of its foreign revenue from Crude Oil and Natural Gases, the Buhari Administration accords pride of place to cattle rearing and cattle herders who still employ the pre-historic, cattle rearing methods to the demands of the 21st Century. One is truly appalled at the thinking of this government which believes that as it was in 1914, so must it remain in 2018.

Rational thinking dictates that we should emulate systems that work. In every country in the developed world, individuals and farmsteads set up ranches where cattle are reared to produce more meat, cheese, and milk. Such considerations are never entertained by the Fulani; not even the intellectuals among them, since the end object of the itinerant cattle method is annexation and domination of other ethnic groups and their land.
There have been a series of developments and some still ongoing pertaining to some perceived resistance to the country-wide campaign of slaughter by Fulani herdsmen against the rest of the federation.The National Assembly was compelled to issue a resolution recently, citing its concern over the ongoing killins, and an implied resolve to ask questions of the executive over perceived lapses. Hereunder is a reproduction of the said resolutions:

”RESOLUTION OF THE JOINT SESSION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HELD TUESDAY, JUNE 5TH, 2018.

The National Assembly held a Joint Executive Session today, Tuesday, June 5th, 2018, where lawmakers resolved as follows;

  1. The Security Agencies must be given marching orders to curtail the sustained killing of Nigerians across the country and protect lives and properties of Nigerians as this is the primaryduty of any responsible Government;

    2. The systematic harassment and humiliation by the Executive of perceived political opponents, people with contrary opinions including Legislators and Judiciary by the police and other security agencies must stop;

    3. There must be strict adherence to the Rule of Law and protection for all citizens by the President and his appointees;

    4. The President must be held accountable for the actions of his appointees and must be ready to sanction those that carry out any act which will ridicule or endanger our country and democracy;

    5. The Government should show sincerity in the fight against corruption by not being selective . It should also prosecute current appointees that have cases pending against them;

    6. The sanctity of the National Assembly should be protected and preserved by the Federal Government of Nigeria — by not interfering in its business and prosecuting those who invaded the Senate to seize the mace;

    7a. National Assembly should liaise with International Communities through the IPU, APU, ECOWAS, CPA, Parliament, Pan African Parliament, EU, UN, US congress and UK Parliament to secure our democracy;

    b. Democratic elections must be competitive and inclusive by removing the present reign of fear and intimidation particularly as we approach the forthcoming 2019 elections;

    8. The National Assembly will work closely with Civil Society Organisations, Trade Unions and NGOs to further deepen and protect our democracy;

    9. The President must take immediate steps to contain the growing level of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria especially now that we have advantage of the oil price having risen to $80 per barrel;

    10. Both chambers of the National Assembly hereby pass a vote of confidence on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the entire leadership of the National Assembly;

    11. we reaffirm our earlier resolution of vote of no confidence on the Inspector General of Police who does nothing other than preside over the killing of innocent Nigerian and consistent framing up of perceived political opponents of the President and outright disregard for constitutional authority, both executive and legislative;

    12. Finally, the National Assembly will not hesitate to evoke its Constitutional powers if nothing is done to address the above resolutions passed today.”

Over the past two weeks, the Fulani militias were at it again, killing over a hundred souls in Benue State, and over two hundred men, women and children. Before the recent spate of killings in Benue and Plateau, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference  Fulani Militias

According to a report in David.Alton.Net, at a recent session of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, the subject of the on-going ethnic cleansing in Nigeria was discussed under the title: Escalating Systematic Violence In Nigeria – Fulani Militias and Boko Haram Threaten The Future Of one of Africa’s Great Countries.

 In his contribution, Lord Alton of Liverpool said:peeches, articles and books from Lord David Alton

DAVIDALTON.NET

”Some local observers have gone so far as to describe the rising attacks as a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing. Armed with sophisticated weaponry, including AK47s and, in at least one case, a rocket launcher and rocket-propelled grenades, the Fulani militia have murdered more men, women and children in 2015, 2016 and 2017 than even Boko Haram, destroying, overrunning and seizing property and land, and displacing tens of thousands of people. This is organised and systematic. We must ask where this group of nomadic herdsmen is getting such sophisticated weaponry from. I wonder whether the Minister has had a chance to look into this; if not, will she give an undertaking to do so?

As I close, I thank the noble Lords who are participating in today’s debate and go back to where I began: to the more than 200 people, mostly women and children, who were killed in sustained attacks on 50 villages by armed Fulani militia just this past weekend. People are dying daily. On 18 June, the Archbishop of Abuja referred in the Telegraph to what he described as “territorial conquest” and “ethnic cleansing” and said:

‘The very survival of our nation is … at stake’.

This alone should serve as a wake-up call. Are we to watch one of Africa’s greatest countries go the way of Sudan? Will we be indifferent as radical forces sweep across the Sahel seeking to replace diversity and difference with a monochrome ideology that will be imposed with violence on those who refuse to comply? We must not wait for a genocide to happen, as it did in Rwanda. Ominously, history could very easily be repeated.” Nigeria, May 22th 2018 Christians demonstrating peaceful against

In his own contribution, Lord Chidgey said: ”As mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, on 24 March this year the respected former army chief of staff and Defence Minister, Lieutenant-General Theophilus Danjuma, stated that the armed forces were “not neutral” and that “they collude” in the “ethnic cleansing” of riverine states by the Fulani militia.

”Earlier this week, I too had the opportunity to meet with the honourable Kwewum Rimande Shawulu, courtesy of the advocacy organisation CSW. The honourable Shawulu is a member of the Nigerian federal House of Representatives in Taraba state. Among his wide-ranging writing and editorial activities, he is currently chair of the National Assembly Army Committee, which gives him unique insight into Nigeria’s current security challenges.

”In our discussions, he was able to rebut the claim that the anti-grazing laws are the cause of the spread of violence. The only states with anti-grazing laws are in fact Taraba, Benue and Ekiti, yet attacks have been occurring over 10 states. For example, in Plateau state, where there are no anti-grazing laws, there have been many killings, including last weekend, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, when over 200 civilians were reported killed. Interestingly, while there is some evidence that some of the violence has a religious dimension, the honourable Shawulu argued that the only affected area was Adamawa state, which is predominately Christian. Other areas with similar land and other resources have suffered no attacks, be they Christian or Muslim.” 

According to a report on the Plateau killings by NAIJ.com, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, June 25, decried how desperate politicians have increasingly cheapened human life in their quest to establish a reign of instability and chaos in the country for political gains. President Buhari, who was reacting to recent clashes in Plateau, which left scores dead, said in a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja, that those behind the killings hoped that it would give them an advantage in the coming elections. He said: “We know that a number of geographical and economic factors are contributing to the longstanding herdsmen/farmers clashes. But we also know that politicians are taking advantage of the situation. This is incredibly unfortunate. “Nigerians affected by the herdsmen/ farmer clashes must always allow the due process of the law to take its course rather than taking matters into their own hands.” Read more: https://www.naija.ng/1177001-desperate-politicians-killings-plateau-president-buhari.html?source=notification#1177001

On our part, we find it difficult to conjecture how politicians on the opposite side of the political spectrum would benefit from the carnage the President’s clansmen have unleashed on the rest of the nation. We can’t speculate; instead, we await a lucid explanation from the Presidency.

On his own part, the Vice President, according to Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in a tweet, said that “The farmer’s family that were killed by Fulanis will be given money. If your family member was affected, you qualify for the money” – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

We at The Property Gazette refuse to believe that a Professor of Law who appreciates what right to life and freedom of worship means; that a Pastor who appreciates the sanctity of life; and a Vice President who is literally a heartbeat away from the Presidency would dismiss the massacre of 200 souls with an offer of monetary compensation.

Finally, we look forward to Elections 2019 with renewed hope that Nigeria would be led out of the woods by a leadership which understands what governance is about; and that the hopes of 180 million Nigerians rests on their leadership. If nothing else, Nigeria craves a leadership that would emulate what leadership is about and reproduce the admirable, if need be. Equally, we look up to the United Nations and other Democratic Nations and Institutions to help preserve our Democracy by holding to account, those who scuff at democratic traditions, and think very little of human life.

Gabby Ogbechie, The Property Gazette

Follow me on: Twitter: @GabbyOgbechie1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gabby.ogbechie

Google+:https://plus.google.com/u/0/

Nigeria: Scores killed, homes burned in Plateau State attacks

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 28, 2018.

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)At least 86 people have been killed in attacks in central Nigeria, police said, an incident that has the potential to exacerbate ethnic tensions in an increasingly volatile region.

The violence, thought to be carried out by armed herdsmen, flared on Saturday in Jos, the capital city of Plateau State, police said.
“Eighty six persons all together were killed, six people injured, fifty houses burnt,” said police spokesman Terna Tyopev.
Violence between the nomadic Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslims, and farmers, who are predominantly Christians, have rocked Nigeria’s Middle Belt since 2013 and are becoming more common.
Jos, Nigeria

Map data ©2018 Google, INEGI, ORION-ME

Amid fears of revenge attacks from affected local communities, Simon Lalong, the governor of Plateau, announced that authorities will enforce a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Jos.
Lalong called the curfew “an immediate measure to protect the lives of citizens” in a statement on Twitter and said it will be in effect “until further notice.”
He promised to follow up with longer term measures to secure peace in the area.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari posted a message on Twitter sending condolences to those affected and appealing for calm.
“The grievous loss of lives and property arising from the killings in Plateau today is painful and regrettable,” he said.
“We will not rest until all murderers and criminal elements and their sponsors are incapacitated and brought to justice,” Buhari said.
Vice President Yemi Osibajo visited Plateau State on Monday to condole with families and communities affected by the attacks, his aide Laolu Akande said.
Akande said Osibajo met with different parties affected by the conflict in the state to discuss an end to the spate of violence in the state.

An election issue

The Nigerian President’s ability to quell violence in the country is certain to be a defining issue in the upcoming 2019 presidential elections.
Nigeria is already grappling with a decade-long Boko Haram insurgency, which has killed thousands of people and displaced millions internally.
Buhari, who is ethnically Fulani, has been accused of not doing enough to stop the violence and widely criticized on social media for his perceived inaction.
Furious Nigerians have taken to social media to voice their anger at the relative ease at which the herdsmen repeatedly attack vulnerable communities across the Middle Belt.
At least 72 people were killed in January following weeks of violence between nomadic herdsmen and farmers killed Benue State, another central region state. Another 19 people, including two priests, were killed in Benue State in April after a gunmen opened fire at a church, police said.
Buhari visited Benue state to console families and communities affected by attacks earlier this year, but argues that the problem is a wide ranging one that pre-dates his administration.
Buhari said that some of the armed herdsmen were trained by Libya’s security services under the country’s former ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, who was ousted from power and killed in 2011.
“These gunmen were trained and armed by Moammar Gadhafi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram,” in a report on Nigeria’s Channels television in April.
Since then, Buhari said the crisis had been “made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region” Buhari said in a conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during his visit to London in April.
COURTESY: CNN

Buhari’s Speech and Reality Checks

270
0

2

Many Nigerians are wondering whether the glowing achievements reeled out by President Muhammadu Buhari took place in Nigeria or somewhere else, reports Tobi Soniyi

The democratic train which took off 19 years ago‎ remains on track despite many challenges. For this alone, Nigerians deserve to celebrate.

On the other hand, it is also a time for sober ‎reflection. This is because nineteen years ago, it is indisputable that life was better. In the South-west, there is a prayer that our tomorrow should be better than yesterday. In the case of Nigeria, yesterday sadly remains better than today. Those in government today would want to dispute this claim but as the legal maxim goes, res ipsa loquitur (the fact speaks for itself).

Listening to President Muhammadu Buhari churning out what his government has achieved in three years, many wonder whether those achievements actually took place in Nigeria or somewhere else.
To be fair, both the president who claimed his government has done so much and the people who said they did not see those achievements are right.

As equivocal as this sounds, when considered against the three cardinal points of the Buhari’s administration‎ namely; security, corruption and the economy, it is easier to appreciate why people are not feeling the impact of the numerous achievements.

Take security first. The president carefully chose his words when he said: ‎”Today, the capacity of the insurgents has been degraded leading to the re-establishment of authority of government and the release of captives including, happily, 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls, and over 16,000 other persons held by the Boko Haram.‎” That is a tactical admission that Boko Haram has not been defeated.

But beyond Boko Haram‎, the Buhari government turned out to be incompetent in stopping herdsmen from killing farmers. Militias and bandits have been killing people at will but the government has been unable to rise to the occasion. It is also unwilling to build ranches for the rampaging herdsmen.

Rather than address the root cause of the deadly clashes, the government was merely prevaricating. It is disappointing that ‎president failed in his Democracy Day broadcast to convince Nigerians that these killings will stop.

‎Even his assurance that “we will not rest until all criminal elements and their sponsors are brought to justice,” sounds hollow because‎ there are no concrete steps taken or being taken to punish the killers.

In Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Kaduna and Zamfara states, which have been worst hit by these killings, people remain apprehensive. They are simply not convinced that this government can protect them.

It is therefore, not difficulty to see that the picture painted by the president in his broadcast does not depict the reality on ground.

On the economy, it is difficult to fault the claim made by the president in his broadcast. The only point of disagreement, however, will be on the impact those economic policies had on the people.

Take for instance what government claims to achieved in its social investment programmes. The president said:‎ “Home Grown School Feeding Programme – About 8.2 million pupils are currently being fed from 24 States of the Federation with over 75,000 catering staff engaged under the programme.

b. The Conditional Cash Transfer has so far recorded over 297,000 caregivers and being trained by 2,495 Community Facilitators in 21 states. Less privileged Nigerians are now being paid N5,000 monthly stipend in 9 pilot States of Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Osun and Oyo. Eventually the scheme will cover all the 36 states of the federation including the FCT.

“‎Under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme – About 264,269 loans had been disbursed to 4,822 societies in the 36 States and FCT, while another 370,635 are awaiting release of funds.

“N-Power Job creation Scheme – is targeted at providing jobs for unemployed young graduates and has so far recruited 200,000 youths while the next batch of 300,000 have been selected, verified and would soon be deployed across the 36 States and the FCT. Furthermore, 20,000 non-graduate volunteers have also been selected to kick off the N-Build programme in collaboration with the National Automotive Design and Development Council and the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria.‎”

The problem with these figures is that they did not tell the whole story.
As an illustration if N-Power Job creation Scheme, which is targeted at providing jobs for unemployed young graduates and has recruited 200,000 youths‎, the government failed to tell Nigerians the number of youths eligible for the scheme. It is like a father who has five children and is able to provide for only of the five children. Can he claim to have taken care of his children? The level of joblessness is so high and renders the government’s intervention too infinitesimal to make any meaningful impact.

That is why it is difficult to find beneficiaries of these programmes in various states. It does not mean that they do not exist. Each state has not less than 200,000 eligible youths‎. How many of these beneficiaries come from each state? Breaking it down on states by states will convince the government that it has not yet done enough.

On corruption, the president’s speech is remarkable for what it did not say. Buhari said: “The second primary object of this Administration is to fight corruption headlong. Like I have always said, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will destroy the country. Three years into this Administration, Nigerians and the international community have begun to applaud our policies and determination to fight corruption. We are more than ever before determined to win this war, however hard the road is. I therefore appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support us in this fight.”

The president did not talk about how he swept under the carpet the scandals over MTN fine, Abdulrasheed Maina ‘s reinstatement and the grass cutting fraud involving the former Secretary to the Federal Government, Babachir Lawal just to mention a few. While the president is quick to arrest members of the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, he is quick to look the other side when his friends are involved in corruption. This explains why Nigerians have refused to embrace the president’s war against corruption.

Another statement from the president’s broadcast which deserves mention is where he said: “My dear country men and women, as we all celebrate our democratic experience, let us resolve to avoid hatred and intolerance; we can only achieve our objectives in an atmosphere of harmony and peaceful co-existence.” The president has allowed those who make peaceful co-existence difficult to walk free without holding them accountable. His inability to bring justice for victims and relatives of people killed by herdsmen and bandits means that peaceful co-existence will remain elusive. It also means that those doing the killings remained emboldened. They are more likely to continue.

In conclusion, the president will have to do more to develop the country. If a government claims to have done certain kilometres of roads, those who drive on that roads will testify to that fact. By then, the president’s achievements will speak for themselves. He will not need to labour so much to convince Nigerians.

Quote
To be fair, both the president who claimed his government has done so much and the people who said they did not see those achievements are right

Quote
On corruption, the president’s speech is remarkable for what it did not say

Dwindling Farmland Sparks a Deadly Conflict in Nigeria

Christian farmers, Muslim herdsmen square off in escalating violence that puts President Muhammadu Buhari’s security pledges to the test before elections

A young displaced woman prepares lunch at the Daudu IDP camp.

AYA MBALOM, Nigeria— Bridget Ambua was gathering for Mass with residents of this farming community in April when gunmen surrounded their grass-roofed church and opened fire, leaving two priests and 17 worshipers dead within minutes.

“They killed as many men as they could,” the 65-year old grandmother said, including three of her relatives. “A young boy pointed his weapon at me. I still can’t comprehend why he didn’t pull the trigger.”

The massacre at Aya Mbalom village—the latest clash in what has become the deadliest conflict to roil Africa’s most-populous nation—comes after a year of attacks and reprisals that have left more than 1,500 people dead and pushed more than half a million from their homes across Nigeria’s most-fertile farming regions.

Bridget Ambua sits in her room at her house in Aya Mbalom.
Bridget Ambua sits in her room at her house in Aya Mbalom.

The clashes are the result of a battle over dwindling supplies of farmland between mainly Christian farming communities and mainly Muslim herdsmen who have for centuries lived in relative harmony.

Fighting has intensified in recent months after the government passed new laws to halt grazing in a bid to stop the deadly clashes and raise agricultural output.

Officials fear the conflict could intensify ahead of elections next year that are considered a referendum on how President Muhammadu Buhari has addressed violence in the country, including the war against the government being waged by Islamist insurgency Boko Haram. President Donald Trump raised the issue of Christian killings in this month’s White House meeting with Mr. Buhari.

Nigeria’s media and Christian politicians say the murders are the work of “killer herdsmen”: nomadic cattle farmers from the Fulani ethnic group, armed with machine guns and Kalashnikovs. Fulani leaders say they are defending themselves from farming communities that have formed militias to hunt and kill them.

Nigeria’s government has said criminal elements have penetrated both sides. Senior security officials say some Fulani groups have hired defectors from Boko Haram to carry out killings, a claim the herdsmen deny.

A Growing Conflict

The combination of increasingly dried out pasture land, banditry in the northwest and the threat of Boko Haram in the northeast has pushed many of Nigeria’s cattle herders south, where conflicts with farming communities have risen.

States with highest incidences of cattle rustling and banditry

States most adversly impacted by the Boko Haram insurgency

Area with the highest incidences of casualties from herder-farmer violence

NIGER

Sokoto

Katsina

Borno

Yobe

Zamfara

Kano

Kebbi

Maiduguri

Kano

Kaduna

BENIN

Kaduna

Niger

Adamawa

Plateau

Abuja

NIGERIA

CAMEROON

Aya Mbalom

Ibadan

Lagos

Ido

Detail

AFRICA

Port

Harcourt

Gulf of Guinea

Douala

100 miles

Yaounde

100 km

Source: International Crisis Group

Nigeria’s government this month declared a national-security emergency and pledged to deploy specialized agricultural-protection divisions across thousands of miles. Farmers have been angered by what they see as the tepid response from Mr. Buhari—himself of Fulani stock—who has called the killings “regrettable” and blamed bandits trained by Libya’s former dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.

Some analysts say the clashes could foreshadow broader resource wars across West Africa’s Sahel—the semiarid region bedeviled by a confluence of rising jihadist activity and surging migration—and around the continent.

“Confrontation between the Fulani and other Nigerian groups could have regional repercussions, drawing in fighters from neighboring countries,” the International Crisis Group said in a report: “These clashes are becoming as dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency.”

The herdsman communities—concentrated in the Sahel but moving their herds across thousands of miles to Central African Republic from Senegal—have traditionally taken cattle south during dry season to graze—and in return fertilize farmers’ land.

But longer dry seasons, the expansion of the desert and one of the world’s fastest-growing populations, has destroyed that equilibrium. In northern states such Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi and Kano, as much as 75% of land is becoming desert, according to the International Crisis Group, forcing herders further south, often heavily armed. There they have met settled farmers who are harvesting more land as the pressure to feed a population estimated to swell to 400 million by 2050, from an estimated 186 million, larger than the U.S.

A farmer works on his field in Mbalom, Benue state.
A farmer works on his field in Mbalom, Benue state.

Diplomats in the capital Abuja said the land conflict could be politically toxic for the government.

“This is extremely serious—it could make or break the elections. Buhari himself is at risk,” a senior Western official said. “He has been so late to address these issues.”

For now, the crisis is reverberating across Nigeria’s fertile states, known as the middle belt.

In Benue’s capital Makurdi, checkpoints have been erected on roads to affected villages. The production of food—including cassava, maize and soy—has collapsed, local officials said. Villagers are organizing into local defense forces.

Local officials say Fulani herdsmen are occupying farms in more than 70 villages, sending thousands fleeing and rendering more than half of the state inaccessible. On Makurdi’s outskirts, two camps now house 30,000 displaced people, with more arriving daily. At one camp, housed in a dilapidated primary school, two toilets serve 10,000 people.

The Daudu IDP camp, which was formerly a school, started housing people from displaced communities in January 2018 after suspected Fulani herdsmen launched an attack.
The Daudu IDP camp, which was formerly a school, started housing people from displaced communities in January 2018 after suspected Fulani herdsmen launched an attack.

Benue Gov. Samuel Ortom warns that the sectarian dynamic of attacks on churches risked moving the conflict into dangerous new territory.

“Islamic State, Boko Haram or Fulani mercenaries, they are all working toward achieving one agenda—which is invading and taking over our land,” he said.

Fulani groups said the killings are the work of marginal criminal elements and warn that Mr. Ortom’s rhetoric is evidence of prejudice against them.

“The conflict has become uncontrolled, religious and sectarian. Politicians are using it for their own purposes and the language recalls Rwanda before the genocide,” said Usman Ngelzerma, head of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeder’s Association, Nigeria’s largest Fulani advocacy group, as he looked through a book showing bludgeoned corpses of slain Fulanis. “Above all, the media is biased against us. They are uniting each and every community is hatred of our people.”

Mr. Ngelzerma said the 20 million cattle farmers, who own 50 million livestock, demand a repeal of the new laws restricting grazing.

Civil-society groups have proposed establishing grazing reserves that could provide pasture for some 20 million cattle.

Some members of the Catholic Men organization put the deceased in their final resting place, Makurdi.
Some members of the Catholic Men organization put the deceased in their final resting place, Makurdi.

Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has called for international intervention, warning the killings could spiral into the kind of ethnic cleansing seen in Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

On Tuesday, Benue’s farming community buried the two dead pastors in an emotionally charged ceremony attended by 20 bishops and thousands including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The site chosen for the burial is heavy with symbolism—a 40-foot cross atop a hill overlooking the farmland.

Mr. Osinbajo urged the community to forgive, promising that the government would apprehend the culprits and rebuild damaged communities.

Iornongu Geoffrey, the 63-year-old pastor administering the slain priests’ dioceses, echoed the community’s anger.

“These priests were killed in their complete dressing. These people knew what they were doing,” he said. “The government has to give us arms so we can have courage.”

Mercy, 16, from Aya Mbalom weeps profusely shortly after she witnessed the burial of some members of her community in Makurdi.
Mercy, 16, from Aya Mbalom weeps profusely shortly after she witnessed the burial of some members of her community in Makurdi.

Write to Joe Parkinson at joe.parkinson@wsj.com

Buhari Blames Gaddafi For Killings Across Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday publicly blamed former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was killed seven years ago for the ongoing killings across central Nigeria.

The killings have long been linked to herdsmen, and some herders of the Fulani ethnic stock have claimed responsibility for some attacks.

But the president said Mr. Gaddafi, a dictator swept away by an uprising in 2011, was to blame for the alarming dimension the attacks have taken in recent years.

Mr. Gaddafi was killed in October 2011 following weeks of violent uprising across Libya, ending his 42-year reign. He was 69.

Prior to his death, which was aided by the Western incursion into the country, Mr. Gaddafi reportedly armed his supporters to ward off the rebellion against him. Libya subsequently plunged into a civil war that still lingers nearly seven years later.

In London with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Wednesday, President Buhari said the arms Mr. Gaddafi provided to his supporters had filtered into Nigeria where they are now being used to fuel killings across the north-central.

“The problem is even older than us,” Mr. Buhari said of killings. “It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.”

“These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.”

“Herdsmen that we used to know carried only sticks and maybe a cutlass to clear the way, but these ones now carry sophisticated weapons,” Mr. Buhari said.

He once again dismissed claims that the attacks might have tribal or religious undertone because they largely occurred at Christian-dominated and minority tribes areas, saying those propagating the assertion are doing so for political gains.

“The problem is not religious, but sociological and economic. But we are working on solutions,” Mr. Buhari said.

The president has faced criticism from for his response in combating the crisis headlong.

Former Nigerian leaders Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida have criticised Mr. Buhari for not demonstrating the capacity to contain the killings, asking him not to run again in 2019. They had also been joined by Theophilus Danjuma, a former chief of army staff, who admonished citizens to defend themselves rather than wait for security agencies.

Mr. Danjuma said the Nigerian security agencies are complicit in the killings, saying many tribes may be wiped out if they wait for federal authorities to protect them.

Both Mr. Buhari and the military have separately issued statements condemning Mr. Danjuma’s remarks and imploring Nigerians not to arm themselves.

The killings, especially in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, have resulted in over a thousand deaths this year alone. They have also caused humanitarian emergencies in those states, with each of them running camps for hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons.

Mr. Buhari has long implied that the attackers are foreigners and not herdsmen, contrary to the accounts of villagers who insist they are being killed by herders.

In the past, Fulani leaders have openly claimed responsibility for killings hundreds of villagers but said they were provoked by the wanton rustling of their livestock.

Following the killings in Benue in early January, leaders of the group in the state vowed that there would be no peace unless the anti-open grazing law being implemented in the state is immediately abolished.

That position has been repeatedly reechoed by senior government officials, including the Minister of Defence Mansur Dan Ali and the Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris.

Security analysts expressed concerns that Mr. Buhari might not have a good grasp of the crisis, despite how frequent it has manifested in recent months.

“Unfortunately, the president appears to be misinformed,” said security analyst Cheta Nwanze.

Mr. Nwanze, head of SBM Intelligence in Lagos, said while it is true that some of the arms in Libya have found their ways into Nigeria following the death of Mr. Gaddafi, there is little evidence to support the assertion that they are being used in the north-central killings.

“Most arms from Libya that have been tracked end up with Boko Haram by way of N’Djamena in Chad,” Mr. Nwanze said.

He said the arms being used in the north-central have been linked to previously intercepted weapons by the Nigerian government.

On the assertion that the killers are not herdsmen or Fulani, Mr. Nwanze said “the president may need to reassess his statement” because leaders of cattle breeders association have repeatedly claimed responsibility for deadly attacks or warned of impending ones in the past.

Another security expert who weighed in on the president’s comments with PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning was Mike Ejiofor, a former director of the State Security Service (SSS).

“It is really unfortunate that the president would go outside to tell the terrorists are coming from Libya,” he said. “We have no borders with Libya and there are no similar senseless killings in other countries which have borders with Libya.”

Mr. Ejiofor expressed a splinter support for the president’s assertion that the killers might not be herdsmen, saying he believes some of them are actually terrorists taking advantage of the fluid security situation to further polarise the country.

Abducted Christian Dapchi girl urges her family to pray

Author: Kess Ewubare UPDATED: A DAY AGO  Category: Local news

– Rebecca Sharibu calls on the federal government to free her daughter from Boko Haram captivity

  • President Buhari vows to ensure urgent release of the remaining Dapchi girl still being held by the insurgents
  • Dapchi parents says they were joyous over the return of their abducted children

Leah Sharibu, the only Christian Dapchi girl that was held back by Boko Haram insurgents for refusing to renounce Christianity has urged her family to pray for her. The Nation reports that the mother of the schoolgirl, Rebecca Sharibu, said her daughter sent a message through the released schoolgirls asking her family to pray for the will of God to be done in her life.

“The released girls told us that the insurgents insist that my daughter must denounce her religion. But she told them she has no single knowledge of Islam and can’t be. She was then left out of the Dapchi trip on the condition that any day she accepts Islam she will be released.

READ ALSO: Dapchi girl recounts ordeal with Boko Haram captors

“Leah, we were told was left with three other Boko Haram women there and she sends message that we should pray for the Will of Gods to be done in her life,” Rebecca said. The mother of the missing girl begged the federal government to free her daughter from the captivity of the insurgents.

“So I plead that Government and the negotiation team should revisit the terms of the agreement to enhance the release of my daughter.

“Everybody has his religion and no one should be compelled to practice a religion he or she never wishes to,” she said. In a related report, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he would ensure the release of the only Dapchi girl being held by the Boko Haram insurgents for allegedly refusing to denounce her religion. NAIJ.com reports that the president said that his heart bled when got the news that one of the girls is still being held by the insurgents while the parents of the released girls were rejoicing.

The president assured the Sharibu family that he will continue to do all he can to ensure that they also have cause to rejoice with their daughter soon. Meanwhile, parents of abducted Dapchi girls who were released by Boko Haram have said the terrorists told them not to send their children back to western education.

NAIJ.com had reported that the girls were released by the terrorists on Wednesday, March 21. Security operatives were not available as the terrorists reportedly drove into Dapchi town where residents celebrated the return of their children and praised President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Premium Times, the terrorists took their time to preach to the residents. Kachalla Bukar, who is the secretary of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls’ parents’ group, said he was on hand to receive the girls and even took pictures with the terrorists.

Street Gist: Mixed reactions trail Boko Haram’s release of Dapchi Girls on NAIJ.com TV Source: Naija.ng

Read more: https://www.naija.ng/1159307-abducted-christian-dapchi-girl-urges-family-pray.html?source=notification#1159307

Courtesy: NAIJ.com

 

The Islamic State: Dawn of a new Caliphate in Nigeria?

 

Opinion, Nigeria,

Gabby Ogbechie. The Property Gazette 

Nigeria, the largest country in the West African sub-region, in terms of population, and the richest in economic terms, owing to the abundance of Crude oil and Gas reserves in its Niger-Delta or south-south region, is currently experiencing an influx of, or invasion by heavily armed militants (terrorists) whom the Federal Government described as ISIS, suggestive of an imminent, planned uprising that would inevitably culminate in the establishment of another Islamic Caliphate in Africa.

It is no longer news that the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has been so degraded and depleted, and all its territories in Syria and Iraq recaptured that one would presume that both the Caliphate and ISIS as an ignoble entity are finished. Moreover, attempts by Al-Shabaab to establish an African caliphate have been creditably resisted by the Somali government.

However, the obnoxious fact that stares the world in the face is that the leadership of ISIS, notably Abu Bakar al Baghdadi and his close and immediate associates, with a few exceptions, are well and alive. With some state sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East still willing and able to make things happen for the cause of jihad and Islam, Baghdadi could be anywhere right now. And no one, it seems, not Syria, not Iraq, not Russia which ascribes to itself alone, the credit of defeating ISIS and bringing the Syrian war to a close; and certainly not the United States which dithered and redrew the ‘’red-line’’ several times before the emergence of President Trump, is interested in either capturing or having Baghdadi neutralized.

Aside from having so many countries in the Middle East that would readily host him, an option, for Baghdadi, could be the establishment of another caliphate. In terms of where an alternative caliphate could be situated, Asia is simply out of it; predominantly Islamic countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc. would not allow it under the open glare of the world, especially the United States.

With options for the relocation of its caliphate running thin, it is not inconceivable that ISIS may, once more, turn its gaze towards Africa, having some years back been expelled from Mali by France. And the obvious choice of the country where it would find support and sustenance is Nigeria from which Boko Haram had hitherto pledged allegiance.

Moreover, unlike Chad which banked on the support and assistance of its erstwhile colonial master France to come to its rescue, Nigeria does not currently have any Defence Pact with any of the world powers to come to its assistance. If anything, most Nigerian leaders have leaned towards the OIC, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and like most African countries, had out-rightly declined participation in Africom (African Command Defense Pact ), a joint African and American force to be headquartered in any African country. At the time in question, circa 2009, under the President George W. Bush administration, Muammar Gadhafi of Libya led the resistance against the establishment of Africom in Africa for the purpose of fighting terrorism.

Why Nigeria? One may be tempted to ask

In terms of perception, Nigeria, a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference which the erstwhile military President, Ibrahim Babangida foisted on the nation, is largely divided in terms of ethnicity and religion: In the core north, you have the north-west states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi,and Niger made up of Muslim Hausa-Fulani, and Kwara state which was mostly Yoruba, but was subsumed into Hausa-Fulani oligarchy through the imposition of an emir by the settler Hausa-Fulani; north-central Hausa-Fulani states of Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi, and Gombe who are Muslim, and Kaduna, whose south-end is peopled by the Christians that are currently being subjected to ethnic cleansing. *

The north-east states, consisting of Adamawa, Bornu, Taraba and Yobe states which are peopled by mostly the Junkun and Kanuri, and within which zone Boko Haram birthed its insurgency with a view to forcefully converting the indigenous people to Islam, are non-Muslims; the middle-belt, mostly Christian states of Benue and Plateau, and mostly Muslim Nasarawa state peopled by the Hausa-Fulani, and Plateau, Benue and Kogi states peopled by the Igarra, Tiv, Idoma, Egere and settler Fulani.

The south-east states, namely Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, and Ebonyi are Christian Ibo states; the south-west, Yoruba states made up of Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Osun and Oyo are two-third Christians, and the rest Muslims; and the south-south states of Cross River, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states consist of a hotchpotch of Ibos, Efik, Ibibio, Edo, Urhobo, Itsekiri and Ijaw are mostly Christians. Incidentally, the south-south states are the most deprived, despite the fact of being the cash-cow of the economy from where oil and gas are extracted.

The core Fulani-Hausa north who have been in power in the Federal Government for over 80% of the life of the republic, have foreclosed the option of including religion on Census menu because that would have revealed the percentages of Christians, Moslems and Traditional religionists within the land space of the federation.

Since the north-west and north-central are the core Muslim states; the middle-belt states mainly Christian; the north-east mainly Christian and partially Muslim; the east and south-south Christians; the west, mainly Christian and partially Muslim, it is ridiculous to have Nigeria referred to as a Muslim country. In objective truth, Nigeria, although politically dominated by the Muslim Hausa-Fulani, is by no dint of the imagination a Moslem country.

As the whole world now knows, one of the most vicious, Islamic terrorist groups the world has seen is Boko Haram, which translates into ‘’Western Education is forbidden.’’ As should have been expected, the Boko Haram insurgency did not emanate from the predominantly Muslim states; it was conceived within the north-east where the cattle-Fulani settlers settled, mainly in Bornu state.

In more ways than one, the plot of the ethnic-religio crises in the process of imploding was hatched by the British colonialists who, in spite of their experience with the Palestinian quagmire which neither the Balfour Declaration, the Oslo Accord nor any other conceived solution could solve, went ahead to create the deadly Christian-Islam country named Nigeria, instead of creating two separate countries; one in the north and the second in the south. For the frivolous reason of cutting its administrative costs, the British merged the Northern and Southern Protectorates, which had neither cultural nor religious ties into one huge imminently explosive country.

The Boko Haram Quagmire

It was in 2002/2003 in the last days of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency that the nation and the entire world heard the stirrings of Boko Haram. First was the incident when this small band of Islamic fundamentalists attacked a Police unit in Maiduguri in Bornu State; killed some policemen and carted away small arms. Several of such incidents, such as attacking churches and few mosques followed until the major event which marked the arrival of the Boko Haram insurgency; the attack and bombing of the UN building in Abuja during the inception of the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2006.

The Olusegun Obasanjo administration did virtually nothing to stamp out the insurgency because the inception of Boko Haram coincided with the period it was engrossed in its ‘’third term agenda.’’ Just like he did with the institution of the Sharia Islamic Law in Zamfara State which he later characterized as ‘’Political Sharia’’; ignoring it as if it wasn’t happening, he ignored this ogre at its incipient stage when it would have been wiped out relatively easily, and progressed to the stage when attacks occurred almost two or three times every week all over the northern states.

Up to date, it is estimated that over 25 thousand souls have been wiped out; thousands of homes burnt; scores of villages destroyed; and millions displaced through the terrorism Boko Haram unleashed on the nation and adjoining countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Boko Haram’s abduction of nearly 300 adolescent schoolgirls from the Federal Government Girls Secondary School from the small town Chibok, with the active connivance politicians bent on discrediting the Goodluck Jonathan Administration was what finally announced Boko Haram to the world, and unleashed the #BringBackOurGirls movement.

Typically, the thoroughly organized slaughter which political correctness in Nigeria define as ‘’herdsmen/farmers’’ clashes usually begin with Fulani herdsmen trespassing into farmsteads, destroying the huts constructed by farmers, and then proceeding to chopping yam and cassava tubers into tiny bits for the consumption convenience of their cattle. If unfortunately such farmers dare to challenge such herdsmen, their usual reaction is to shoot such farmers for having the temerity to question their actions. From there, they usually bulldoze their way into the village or town; destroy and set as many homes as they can on fire. As residents of such home struggle out of their burning homes, they are met with gunfire.
As Nigerians were adjusting to a new life of seeing churches, markets, mosques, motor parks and police stations firebombed, leading up to the elections which brought the President Buhari government to power, another rude awakening came by way of incessant killings by the itinerant ‘’Janjaweed militia’’ locally known as Fulani herdsmen. Prior to this latter day development, the nation had gotten used to the so called ‘’Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes’’ in Plateau and Benue States especially, but of a sudden, about a year to the general elections which was headlined by the Presidential election, the Fulani herdsmen began to unleash terror in most middle-belt, north-east and southern non-Muslim states; and have been observed to be upping the ante towards the 2019 elections.

To date, Fulani herdsmen have surpassed Boko Haram in terms of the number of people killed in the non-Fulani states. A very important aspect of these attacks is that as soon as they enter farms, after destroying the barns and whole farmsteads, they condition such farms for imminent grazing by setting the farms and bushes on fire under the notion that the past season’s bushes and brushes must give way for grass to grow unhindered with the first rains. The great Nigerian novelist, Cyprian Ekwensi detailed the havoc Fulani herders wreak on land in his epic novel, Burning Grass. Were the lessons outlined in that book to have been taken to heart by successive governments, the current menace would have been avoided. 

While it is commonplace to find whole villages and communities entirely razed by herdsmen, village heads, important personalities are kidnapped and ransomed before they are released by herdsmen. A former Head of Service and Presidential Candidate, Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped by Fulani Herdsmen; his farm ransacked; and some of his farm workers slaughtered and lots more beaten up and wounded. It took the intervention of the Buhari administration before Olu Falae was released. The Obi of Ubulu-Uku was abducted, and after ransom money was paid, he was still killed. 

As lately as on 6th instant, Governor Ortom of Benue had his farm destroyed. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has disclosed that his farm located at his village in Gbajimba, the headquarters of Guma local government area has been attacked by Fulani mercenaries destroying the farm products.

The governor who disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists at the government house in Makurdi also said that the corpse of a policeman who was killed by armed Fulani herdsmen and dumped in the bush had been discovered by the traditional rulers in Guma and handed over to the police authorities in the state.

Governor Ortom regretted the continued unwarranted attacks on people of the state despite the relocation of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari to the state saying the quantum of destruction on his farm cannot be ascertained as manager of the farm had run away for his dear life leaving the entire farm at the mercy of the invaders.

The testimony of a former member of the Federal House of Representatives from southern Kaduna sums up the whole gamut of the scourge of Fulani herdsmen. He said among many other things that whole villages and communities in southern Kaduna are being systematically subjected to ethnic cleansing, and denied every imaginable amenity by the Federal and State governments, while making such amenities available to the settler Fulanis who are gradually taking over their land. Furthermore, because Christians and churches are the primary targets of fundamentalism, the Church, which has remained taciturn and mealy-mouthed has been forced to start speaking up. While the Pastors of most of the big churches have kept mum, a few have been speaking out, irrespective of what it may result to. Among the few who have been vocal against Fulani herders’ killings are Rev. Issa Buba, Joseph Okechukwu, etc.Ben Murray-Bruce

 

On his part, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, speaking in the Senate Chamber, informed the Senators that there were developments within the polity that defied explanation. He stated that they were all in shock to hear Senator Marafa voice his agitation over the presence of heavily armed strangers who may not be Nigerians in Zamfara state. He went as far as stating that it didn’t make sense for the Senate to pass resolutions time after time and yet nothing gets done. (Please watch). He further wondered that with the incessant killings in the north-east, middle-belt, south-east, south-west and south-south by marauding Fulani herdsmen, Nigeria was fast becoming a ‘’lawless country’’. 

On the 6th instant, a report on Daily Post online stated that a former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani Kayode has reacted to the killing of Officer-in-Charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Saki Unit in the Oyo State Police Command by Fulani herdsmen.

The SARS boss was reported to have been macheted to death by the Fulani herdsmen during an operation in a forest on the Saki-Ogbooro Road in Oke-Ogun area of the state.

Reacting , Fani Kayode said law and order had been broken in the country as no one was safe, even security agents, from Fulani herdsmen whom he described as ‘bloodsucking’.

On his official twitter page, he wrote: “A SARS police officer was cut into tiny pieces with machetes by Fulani terrorists in Saki, Oyo state yesterday. Law and order has broken down and even our security agents are being targeted and slaughtered in open daylight by these bloodthirsty and bloodsucking Fulani herdsmen.‎”

On a personal note, many people in the Press and the Social Media have consistently reported an obvious build-up of strange people all over the south. On the average, one finds that for every street on property security personnel, there are on the average well over five to ten others who either loiter around, or have become itinerant cobblers, tailors, etc. Many believe that what we are witnessing is the rapid deployment/spread of Boko Haram and Islamic fundamentalist terrorists all over the country, by whom, no one seems to know.

The fact that the Legislature and the administration had been considering the Grazing Bill which tends to elevate the ‘’rights’’ of cattle and their owners above that of the average citizen by according proprietary rights to graze to cattle over user rights by citizens, and that the Federal Government had remained taciturn over the menace of Fulani herdsmen, and finally, President Buhari’s resolve to create ‘’Cattle Colonies’’ in every state emphasized the impression that the government valued the life of cattle above human life.

The only positive development in all of these is that the President finally spoke concerning the vexatious subject. He tweeted:
The recent killings in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, and Zamfara states are all regrettable, and saddening. But even more importantly, I am very much aware of all the issues at stake, and doing my best to ensure that justice is done and the security of lives and property guaranteed.
56 replies96 retweets93 likes
The security agencies have standing instructions to arrest and prosecute any and all persons found with illegal arms. In addition, quite a number of arrests have been made so far, in relation to the killings, and all these persons will be duly prosecuted.
32 replies90 retweets102 likes
Bukola Saraki
The Nigerian Senate, in its bit to halt the embarrassing state of killings within the economy, convened a two-day Security summit. The Senate President, Senator Olusola Saraki tweeted:

”Following the spike in the bloodletting over the New Year period, today, the Senate convened a #SecuritySummit to review the entire security architecture of the country”.

In his opening address, he said amongst other things:

”The spike in the bloodletting over the New Year period injected another note of urgency into the matter, and further served to augment the mandate of the Committee, whose members suspended their recess to conduct a fact-finding visit to Benue State, scene of one of the recent killings. From that visit on 12th January 2018, the Committee had a report ready for the Senate upon resumption on 16th January. It was on the back of that, that we passed the Resolution to organise this Summit – to review the entire security architecture of the country. I would like to thank the members of the Committee – Chaired by Senate Leader, Distinguished Senator Ahmed Lawan – for their hard work and commitment to this national assignment, and the expedient manner in which they discharged their functions.

The sharp increase in murderous violence, over and above the relatively manageable level of insecurity that has plagued our country for some time, jolted us out any last vestiges of complacency or denial. There can be no denying the horrific reality in many parts of our country today. People who should be neighbours are turning on one another and taking up arms. These attacks and reprisal attacks are an intolerable cycle of hell that must be broken. Killings, kidnappings, mayhem and general lawlessness cannot be the new normal. We must take this country back and restore order.”

The implication of a Nigerian Islamic Caliphate

The foremost implication of an islamic Caliphate being established in Nigeria means firstly a replication of the Syrian situation multiplied five-fold. However, whereas Europe and the world welcomed Syrian and Iraqi refugees with open arms, no one is willing or ready to welcome refugees from another ”Muslim country” given the current notion that the refugee path has become an avenue for Muslim invasion of Europe.

We must decide as a nation whether which we treasure more; our ethnic and spiritual affiliations, or the continued existence of our nation.

 

%d bloggers like this: