Intersociety, Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, Friday, 31st July 2020:
There are eight major indicators vicariously linking the present Government of Nigeria and its security and law enforcement agencies to ongoing orgy of terror against Christians in the country. The jihadist terror activities against Christians especially by Jihadist Herdsmen is likened or modeled after Sudan’s “Janjaweed Jihadism” under the ousted Gen Omar Hassan el-Bashir Government (1989-2019). The present Government of Nigeria and its security and law enforcement agencies have since mid 2015 defended and stood by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen whose frontiers have further expanded to include ‘foreign’ or ‘imported’ Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Shuwa Arabs. These Jihadist groups are also fingered in the ongoing socio-political instabilities or crises in the Central African Republic and Republic of Burkina Faso, etc.
The Nigeria’s central Government has continuously failed woefully in its constitutional duties to protect and secure the country’s individual and group citizens irrespective of their religion, tribe and creed. Same Government has also failed woefully to protect the country’s secularity status and seemed most likely to have adopted radical Islamism as ‘a state religion’, contrary to Sections 10 and 38 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The Government’s defense of the Jihadist Herdsmen and their heinous atrocities had included and still includes description of their anti Christian butcheries as “herders-farmers’ clash(es)”, or “killings arising from revenge and reprisal violence and criminal gangs”, or “communal clashes” such as ‘killings involving two warring Christian communities”. The latest of such indefensible Government’s cuddling and defense of Jihadist Herdsmen is a false narrative of “balance of terror” or ‘symmetric killings and counter killings’ between communal Muslims and communal Christians’.
In all these, we, the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, are not unaware of the fact that the Government is bent not only to continue its monumental failure to act to end the butcheries but also its attempts at deceiving and misleading the world. Therefore, having, since 2010, carefully followed, monitored, researched, investigated, documented, exposed or published the killings perpetrated against Christians and Minority Muslims in Nigeria or any part thereof including patterns and trends of the attacks, we have identified eight major indicators vicariously and inescapably linking the named Government and its security and law enforcement agencies to Fulani Herdsmen Jihadism in the country. The eight major indicators are summarized as follows:
· (1) Government of Nigeria has consistently and undeniably risen since mid 2015 in strong defense and protection of Herdsmen Jihadists and their atrocities which have now escalated and spread country-wide. The central Government of Nigeria and its Armed Forces has also vicariously and officially maintained a policy of soft spot for Boko Haram and its terror jihadism in the Northeast. This, the same Government does to through window dressing and, some say, ‘conflict profiteering’.
Two (2):Government has introduced RUGA (Rural Grazing Area or Settlement for Fulani Herders throughout Nigeria) and NLTP (National Livestock Transformation Plan); all resulting in forceful settlement of Fulani Herders or making them to violently occupy indigenous Christian lands throughout Nigeria. Included, too, is the Nigerian Military (Fulani) Cattle ranching program which seems to have reduced same to a “Fulani colony or Armed Forces”. The Nigerian Military particularly the Army has also since Oct 2016, established annual regional military operations with different code names, camouflaged and remotely targeted at Christian parts of Nigeria; during which ways are militarily and vicariously paved for Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen to move into indigenous Christian lands and occupy them under heavy military or security backing and protection. Strong pieces of evidence abound.
All the programs above are widely viewed as jihad friendly or oriented and through them the Jihadist Herdsmen have been provided state cover to move in and forcefully occupy indigenous Christian communities and their forests, bushes and farmlands across the country; from where they launch attacks and jihadist campaigns targeted at Christians, their lands, farmlands, houses and worship and learning centers. They have been responsible for burning or destruction of not less than 1,500 churches and Christian learning centers across the country since 2015.
Not a single Mosque has been destroyed or burnt in their name till date. As a matter of fact, it must be reminded that Jihadist Herdsmen have never killed a single Muslim or destroyed or burnt any Mosque or Islamic learning center anywhere in Nigeria or any part thereof. All their victims are Christians and other non Muslims. Before mid 2015, for instance, less than two percent of the farmlands, bushes and forests in over 500 Igbo communities in Igbo Land (including Igbo parts of Delta, Benue and Kogi) presently occupied or under the occupation of the Jihadist Herdsmen was occupied or under occupation by same Jihadist Herdsmen. They had existed as “Hausa Settlements” or “Ogbe Hausa”. This is also similarly the case in the Christian parts of Benue, Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kogi, Yobe, Taraba, Gombe, Adamawa, Edo and Delta, etc.
Two (2):grossly lopsided composition of the country’s security forces including their commands and controls which have remained, some say, “90% Muslim controlled”. Three (3): refusing to arrest and prosecute the atrocious jihadists or hold them to account for their heinous atrocities since July 2015. Four (4):continued recognition of the mother bodies of the genocidal Fulani jihadists (i.e. MACBAN, FUNAM and Fulani Koutal Hore) as ‘registered organizations” and deregistration of nonviolent socio-cultural, etc groups and declaration, using draconian legal instruments, of other nonviolent ethno-religious groups as “terrorist organizations”.
Five (5):indiscriminate and unilateral granting of state pardon to terror jihadists (i.e. “repentant Boko Haram combatants”) and their alleged enlistment into security forces as well as abandonment and persecution of victim groups or communities. Six (6): Government’s false labeling of killing of Christians as “killings arising from herders-farmers’ clashes” and use of different false narratives to back and protect the jihadists and cover their atrocities. Seven (7): in furtherance of the above false labeling and narratives, the present Nigeria’s central Government also tries to introduce “a balance of terror” or symmetric narrative, between the Fulani Herdsmen jihadists and the victim Christian communities by describing the brutally asymmetric killings as “killings arising from revenge, reprisals and criminal gangs”.
Same Government has till date, refused to recognize and declare Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen as a terror group. This is despite the fact that the group is internationally outlawed and named ‘world’s fourth deadliest terror group’. The “balance of terror” Government’s false narrative has further exposed the complicity of the Nigerian Government in the anti Christian butcheries and its monumental failure in discharging its constitutional duties of protecting and safeguarding the citizens irrespective of their religion, tribe or creed. Eight (8):Nigerian Government and its security and law enforcement agencies particularly the Nigeria Police Force do not have official credible data or crime statistics particularly with respect to ceaseless massacre of Christians in Nigeria. The Government has not only failed to provide official credible data of the killings, maiming and Christian properties destroyed or burnt but also undermined, mangled and denied same when independently presented.
Government has also failed woefully in letting Nigerians and the Int’l Community know, with verifiable statistics, the proportionality or dis-proportionality of such inter faith asymmetric killings, maiming and destroyed or burnt or lost properties. That is say that there are no credible data from the present central Government of Nigeria or its security and law enforcement agencies including Nigeria Police Force and Defense or Army Headquarters, showing the percentage or number of attacks against defenseless Christian communities by the state backed and protected Jihadist Herdsmen or reprisals by the victim Christian communities, if any.
In other words: there are no credible Government’s records or from its security and law enforcement agencies showing the number of attacks against Christians since mid 2015 by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, number of Christians killed, number of their lands seized and occupied by the Jihadists and number of Christians’ properties including dwelling houses, worship and learning centers destroyed or burnt or lost to Jihadist Herdsmen. Government or security or law enforcement records are near totally absent, if not totally absent regarding the number of Jihadist Herdsmen arrested and investigated, convicted and jailed since mid 2015 for killing Christians or seizing or destroying their properties especially their sacred learning and worship centers. Independent records have continued to indicate that such perpetrators are often not arrested, but shielded by the security forces.
On the other hand, there are also no credible records from the same Government or its security and law enforcement agencies showing the number of attacks against Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen or Fulani citizens or settlements by the victim Christian groups or communities, number of Fulani citizens killed, number of their lands seized and occupied, number of Fulani properties including dwelling houses, Mosques and learning centers destroyed or burnt by same Christian “avengers”. The present Government of Nigeria and its security and law enforcement agencies should also answer the following questions: how many Muslims or Muslim farmers have been killed by Jihadist Herdsmen in Nigeria since mid 2015 and how many Islamic properties such as Mosques and learning centers have the same Jihadist Herdsmen destroyed or burnt?
Therefore, since the central Government of Nigeria is now introducing locally and internationally, ‘balance of terror’ narrative or symmetric violence ratio into the anti Christians’ massacre, we challenge them to furnish Nigerians and the Int’l Community with credible official records or data or ‘crime statistics’ regarding the above highlighted. The failure of the Government in this regard will mean same shutting up its mouth permanently and licking the wounds of its monumental failure to act to protect the vulnerable and persecuted Christians in Nigeria.
On our part and independently speaking, the evidence on the ground grossly shows the contrary or contradicts all the Government claims. Apart from attacks on Christians in Nigeria being brutally asymmetric or ‘98%/2%’ ratio; or radical Islamists’ attacks or violence against Christians 98% and reprisals against such attacks or violence 2% or less; the Nigerian Government, adding to its monumental failure to protect Christians and fish out and punish their attackers, has also repeatedly repelled such reprisals if rarely risen or rarely about to occur. Under the same Government, any reprisal killing of a Fulani Herdsman is given widest media attention locally and internationally; with wheel of justice speeded up against the perpetrator(s). But when Christians are massacred, Government rolls out industrially its media censorship and inaction including aiding and abetting; for purpose of dwarfing or mangling same.
Both in principle and in practice, the present Government of Nigeria has provided and still provides maximum protection for Fulani settlements and their jihadist groups and turned and still turns blind eyes including little or zero response to early warning or distress calls on the side of the persecuted Christians and their properties, especially when under attack or about to be attacked. Naturally, individual or group victim citizens’ reprisals become inevitable when governing or securing authorities woefully failed in their duties to protect them and go after their attackers; or whereby same governing or securing authorities take sides and shield the perpetrators and cover up their atrocities.
in the case of persecuted Christians and their communities in Nigeria or any part thereof, they have remained substantially pacifist, nonviolent, peaceful and law abiding; allowing themselves to be massacred at will; only for the same Government and its security and law enforcement agencies especially the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force to torment and punish them for being nonviolent. Even in the midst of vicious, systematic and coordinated attacks or violence against them by the Jihadist Herdsmen, the Government does little or nothing to protect and secure them other than to criminalize and collectively frame them up with all manners of false labeling and accusations.
Links below contained conspiratorial statements of the Federal Government, the Kaduna State Government, the Nigerian Army and the Kaduna State Police Command, directly or indirectly justifying the ongoing massacre of Christians in Southern Kaduna; these are same Governing and Security authorities constitutionally charged with responsibility of securing and protecting individual and group citizens’ lives and properties irrespective of their ethnicity and religion:
Kaduna State Government: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/nwest/404891-why-insecurity-persists-in-southern-kaduna-el-rufai.html
the Nigeria Army: https://www.thecable.ng/military-commander-we-have-limited-manpower-to-tackle-southern-kaduna-killingsand https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/nwest/405610-southern-kaduna-crisis-not-ethnic-cleansing-military-commander.html
Kaduna State Police Command: https://guardian.ng/news/police-deny-fresh-killings-in-southern-kaduna/
A counter statement by SOKAPU: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/06/01/kaduna-community-urges-security-agencies-to-recover-30-corpses-of-victims-of-attacks/
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair, Amaka Damaris Onuoha, Esq., Head of Campaign & Publicity, Samuel Kamanyaoku, Head of Field Data Collection & Documentation and Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law