WASHINGTON – Across the globe, there were various incidences of violence over the Christmas holidays in Egypt, Pakistan, Israel and Nigeria amongst others. However the continuing bloodshed in Nigeria into the new year is deeply concerning.
According to published reports and victim accounts, at least a dozen fatal attacks have occurred this season including:
1. Attack on Carolers in South Kaduna State left 5 Christians killed, others injured Dec 22, 2017 by suspected Muslim Fulani Herdsmen
2. Attacks on worshippers during Christmas service in Benue state left 3 Christians killed and others injured on December 25, 2017 by suspected Muslim Fulani Herdsmen
3. Attacks on 4 churches in Kwara state on New Year’s day. Many injured, raped and properties destroyed on January 1 by local Muslims
4. Attack on churchgoers on New Year’s Day in the southern Rivers State. 16 feared dead by suspected criminal gang.
5. Attacks in Adamawa State on Christmas Eve December 24 (1 death, 4 injuries) and December 28 2017 (1 death, 4 injured) by suspected Fulani Herdsmen
6. Attack in Plateau state resulting in 2 deaths New Year eve by suspected Fulani Herdsmen
7. Attacks in Benue state killing at least 73 and destroying a village on January 1st and 2nd 2018 by Fulani Herdsmen
8. Attacks in Borno State with 25 Loggers and 5 Soldiers killed in by Boko Haram jihadist Terrorists on Christmas Day
9. Attacks by Nigerian security forces on citizens protesting the murders of their kinsmen in Benue state on January 3rd, 2018
We were particularly alarmed at the high fatalities in the New Year’s Day Massacres in Benue state in particular. More so the number of attacks in Nigeria and the casualties exceed the totality of attacks and fatalities in other nations during the festive period.
We were deeply disturbed that although the Fulani Herdsmen accounted for the majority of the attacks this period (over 80%), Nigeria’s President General Muhammadu Buhari conspicuously failed to mention them in his national address on New Year’s Day. Worse still, in a belated response to the massacres in Benue state, General Buhari again failed to mention the Fulani Herdsmen responsible for the latest atrocity. We note that General Buhari is himself a Fulani and this reinforces the perception by victims of bias in support of their attackers.
This perception was strengthened by reports of Nigeria’s Air Force being deployed to support Fulani herdsmen in clashes with the people of Numan in Adamawa state earlier in December. General Buhari’s Air Force dropped bombs on the community killing many. Accordingly a Rapid Response Fact-Finding Team (RRFFT) was dispatched from the US to assess the situation in Nigeria in January.
During a fortnight mission to Nigeria ending last week, the RRFFT observed and gathered the following :
A. POOR FG RESPONSE
1. The Benue NYD massacre was a state, national and international watershed and potential turning point of the perennial mass killings by Killer Fulani Herdsmen in a similar manner that the 2010 Dogo Na Hawa massacre in Plateau also garnered international media attention.
2. The state was under intense pressure from the federal government not to conduct a state burial for the 73 victims and was prohibited from airing it on live TV.
3. The Federal Government was conspicuously underrepresented at the burial when even the United Nations were represented. It is noteworthy that Benue is 3 hours from Abuja by road and 20 minutes by plane.
4. One month after the massacre, neither the president nor VP have visited the state. However in December the VP visited Adamawa State after attacks there.
7. FG has not come to terms with the gravity of the situation unlike the watching world and is both unsympathetic and hostile to the victims in its messaging.
9. B. CONTINUING ATTACKS
10. While in the country, more attacks by herdsmen occurred in Adamawa and Taraba states in the northeast, Benue, Plateau and Nassarawa states in the north central Middle belt and Ondo state in the South West. Sub regionally there were also incidences with Fulani herdsmen in Ghana, Cameroun and Chad. This is indicative that the geographic footprint of Fulani Herdsmen activity is broader than Boko Haram terrorists’ conflict theater and therefore potentially a broader sub regional security threat
11. In Benue, 3 dozen policemen on security duty in the massacred community were overrun and outgunned by Killer Fulani Herdsmen on January 25.
12. i. At least one policeman Solomon Dung was killed and others wounded
13. ii. Police survivors retreated after running out of ammunition
14. iii. The Killer Fulani Herdsmen had ammunition magazines wrapped around them
15. iv. The corpse of the slain policeman Solomon Dung was yet to be recovered
16. v. Survivors who had served in counter insurgency operations in the NE stated that this attack was as ferocious.
17. vi. Survivors pleaded for Armored Personnel Carriers stating that their open air Hilux pick up vans were no match for the KFH attackers.
18. By the end of January herdsmen attacks had claimed approximately 200 lives across Nigeria- far exceeding Boko Haram attacks under the same period – making it by fatalities the single largest national security threat of 2018.
21. While Killer Fulani Herdsmen are a recognized terroristic entity globally, it remains unrecognized as a national security threat even though it has claimed the most lives in 2018.
24. C. FG COVER UP, COMPLICITY, COLLUSION OR ACCOMMODATION OF KILLINGS
25. The Inspector General of Police falsely claimed the massacres were a “communal clash.”
27. i. The Fulani are not indigenous to Benue state indeed the FG has previously claimed they are foreigners to Nigeria.
28. ii. This was a massacre not a clash.
29. iii. the Fulani have already claimed responsibility for the attack justifying same iv. surviving police officers unequivocally identified their assailants as Fulani
31. After he was deployed to the state by the FGN and corrected at a town hall meeting, the IG testified in the National Assembly last week that the state’s Cattle-Ranching law is responsible for the Herdsmen attacks and should be “suspended.” However:
32. i. Between 2013-2016 Herdsmen attacked Benue State alone on an average of once a month killing 6 a day (which if this were a disease would be an epidemic) all before the implementation of the Law which only began in November 2017. It is inconceivable and beggars belief that the IG believes that a law of 2017 is the cause of deaths in 2013-2018. Rather state actors told us and this is more sane and logical that that the killings from 2013-2016 were the cause of the Law in the first place as a legal instrument for peace.
33. ii. Herdsmen attacks occurred in Plateau, Adamawa, Ondo and other states that do not have anti-open grazing laws
34. iii. State officials say the IG was only seen briefly for about a day despite his official “redeployment” to Benue and that there is little to show for his presence as killings continue
36. The Minister of Defense General Dan-Alli said after a security council meeting, in what a newspaper editorial called “breathtaking arrogance,” “what do you expect when grazing routes are blocked?” However the same points above apply to the illogicality of this hypothesis in a cause and effect framework. More so:
37. i. The Defense Minister is defending and justifying the killings of his citizens whom he is meant to protect by admitted foreign herdsmen
38. ii. The Defense Minister is engaging in victim-blaming
39. iii. The Defense Minister and the National Security Council have no intelligent solutions for the situation
40. iv. The Defense Minister and NSC have adopted the biased position of the killers
41. v. The Defense Minister and NSC are trying to a subvert a state law and state government which act is a violation of the constitution, federalism and democratic governance.
42. vi. The NSC is virtually all composed of northern Muslims several of whom are of Fulani extraction with cattle rearing pedigree including in particular the Defense Minister and the President
44. After the Jan 25 attack in which policeman Solomon Dung was killed by the herdsmen, survivors called for but did not receive requested armaments from the FG. However following reprisal attacks on 7 Fulanis on January 31, the FG speedily sent in military forces into Gboko and in an unprecedented manner the ranking police officer in the area was whisked away for interrogation. He is an indigene of Benue State. Thus since the NYD massacre of Benue people, the only people taken into custody and interrogated are Benue people – enforcers of the ranching law and the police DPO who is a Benue indigene. No Fulani attackers are known to be in custody for the gruesome killings of 73 people.
It is patently and indisputably clear that the General Buhari-led government of Nigeria not only failed to protect its citizens after repeated early warnings by the state but has taken sides with their killers.
Worse still the Federal Government is not adequately protecting/providing for its security personnel who continue to die in the line of duty under superior fire power and numbers of the Killer Herdsmen.
Nigeria’s security architecture has been deliberately and systematically skewed in favor of the Muslim north to the exclusion of all others in violation of the constitution and cannot be trusted to execute fair and just responses for the entirety of the nation. Ironically the Secretary of the Federal Character Commission the agency to enforce fair and equitable distribution of federal appointments is a former official of Miyetteh Allah Cattle Breeders Association one of the Herdsmen groups that has justified killings. He was appointed by General Buhari.
Herdsmen groups who have claimed responsibility for or justified the killings are waging an insurgency against a duly constituted state authority with the full weight and tacit support of the Federal Government as a co-insurgent. Local communities have been disarmed while the attackers have not.
We call for:
- An immediate stop to the impunity of the killer Fulani Herdsmen and for arrests and prosecutions of the perpetrators.
- An immediate stop to attacks by the government on civilians protesting their failure to protect
- An immediate stop to the harassment, intimidation and demonization of the victims, people and state officials of Benue by the Federal Government
- Compensation to the victims of these and past attacks
- Investigations into all the spates of attacks
- Arrest and interrogation of all organizations/individuals that have claimed responsibility and justified the massacres
- Resignation of the Defense Minister who lacks the intellectual capacity and moral fortitude or integrity to defend his citizens and has endorsed genocide
- Removal of the IG for inability to conduct a logical investigation, to detect or prevent attacks, to protect and provide for his men who are being killed, for absconding from duty in Benue where he was deployed in direct disobedience to a presidential order and for incompetence and dereliction of duty
- Reshuffling of the National Security Council which is almost a tribal council to ensure equity, balance and fair representation on a core national affair
- An immediate stop to the entry of Fulani and cattle from outside Nigeria’s borders
- An immediate disarming of all Herdsmen
- Registration of herdsmen and cattle owners
- Condolence visit by the President or VP to Benue
- A comprehensive stakeholder consultation and master plan on curtailing this national security crisis
- A recognition of Killer Fulani Herdsmen attacks as terroristic in nature and requiring urgent security attention to preempt wider avoidable national conflagration
Glossary: the term “Killer Fulani Herdsmen” (KFH) is used here to distinguish from the average Fulani individual who is neither a killer nor a herdsman but an innocent native of the tribal people group.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Rapid Response Fact-Finding Team
US NIGERIA LAW GROUP
Washington DC USA
Seeking to end impunity in the Nigerian Genocide