A Statement Issued By The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) on The war crimes and crimes against humanity Taking Place in Nigeria Against Christians; The Announcement By The Fulani Socio-Cultural Association;-: Miyetti Allah Kautol Hore On The Establishment Of Its Nationwide Security Outfit And President Muhammadu Buhari’s Silence On The Formation Of A Policing Agency By Same Group Who Are Always Known To Offer Explanation Each Time Christian Farmers Were Slaughtered By Armed Fulani Herdsmen.
In the past six years, the world has witnessed two clear cases of genocidal atrocities. The first, which occurred in Syria and Iraq, was perpetrated by Daesh against religious minorities such as the Yazidis and Christians. The second took place in Myanmar, and was perpetrated by the Burmese military against the Rohingya Muslims and other religious minorities. Yet, there are evolving situations where mass atrocities may be occurring and that appear to be neglected. One such example is in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, there are two major armed Islamic militant groups terrorizing Nigeria and its defenseless citizens, particularly members of the Christian faith. They are the Armed Fulani Herdsmen and the Boko Haram jihadists.
In 2002, the Boko Haram, formed as a ragtag violent group protesting local inequality, socio-economic downturn and failed political leadership in Borno was later hijacked and radicalized religiously by some Northern radical Islamists and criminals.
On the other hand, the terrorist Fulani Herdsmen, on their part, are the armed terrorist and Islamic jihadist department of Fulani Herdsmen in Nigeria; the country’s aboriginal cattle herders. This terrorist and jihadist department of Herdsmen created and funded by extremist Northern politicians and security chiefs became devastatingly active immediately after the return to civil rule in late May 1999.
Initially formed and funded with the mission to wrestle the country’s seat of Presidency power from the south with their campaign terror aimed at making Nigeria ungovernable, which changed to armed terrorism in 2015 has made the group now the world’s deadliest terror group.
This change in its mission could be attributed to the victory and emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari; a Fulani and a member of a conservative branch of the Muslim Faith. President Buari remains the life patron of the mother body of the Association of Nigeria’s Cattle Herders known as the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).
Ceaseless killing of Christians in Nigeria since 2015 and burning or destruction of their churches and other worship centers has followed patterns of attacks in Nigeria especially in the North East and North Central of the Country.
It cannot be overemphasized then that the conditions for genocide exist in Nigeria. Christians, non-violent Muslims, and adherents of tribal religions being particularly vulnerable, with increasingly violent attacks and the failure of the Nigerian government to prevent them and punish the perpetrators have called for grave concerns, hence this statement by HURIWA.
The rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as “infidels” by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions is alarming and suggests ongoing genocide on Christians in the North of Nigeria.
Over the past one year, 1,000 Christians in Nigeria are reported to have been killed by Islamist militias, with 6,000 murdered since 2015, according to the most conservative estimates from Nigerian Christian sources. In the past five weeks alone
Observably, Christians in Nigeria have become threatened class as the country is under a siege orchestrated by the murderous bloodthirsty and criminally-minded Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani terrorist herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers. More worrisome is the inaction of the government in the face of the escalating conflict and the culture of impunity.
Thousands have been affected by the numerous mass atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram. We recall that Leah Sharibu; a 15-year-old Nigerian girl, who was one of the 110 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Dapchi, Nigeria, in February 2018 is still under the captivity of the Boko Haram notwithstanding the fact that most of the girls have now been released.
According to the account of one of the released girls, Boko Haram refused to let Leah go because she declined to renounce her Christian faith and that is the reason Boko Haram has continued to enslave her.
Attacking women and girls is a signature tactic of Boko Haram. They subject women and girls to physical and mental abuse, rape and sexual violence, forced labor and much more. However, among its atrocities, those that are of a religious nature are significant too and cannot be neglected.
Additionally, the atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram are not the only mass atrocities in Nigeria that require urgent attention.
In June this year, precisely on the 5th, the U.K. All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG), which is a cross-party group of parliamentarians representing both houses of the U.K. Parliament, released a report about the mass atrocities perpetrated in Nigeria by the Fulani militia.
The Report titled: “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide? Noted that though the exact death toll occasioned by the Armed Fulani Herdsmen is unknown, thousands of civilians are thought to have been killed in attacks led by Fulani herders and periodic retaliatory violence. While the Boko Haram has continued to unleash mayhem in the North East of the Country, Fulani militia continues to perpetrate mass atrocities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
It is clear that the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari will not address the crime adequately or at all. The rash defensive statements by the Federal Government such as that by President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson; Garba Shehu describing the allegations of persecution of Christians as false and a most misleading campaign suggests lack of political will to arrest the suspected mass killers.
If the Presidency and the Federal Government is blind to the issue of religious persecution in the country, it is clear that the issue will not be addressed.
Again, the recent announcement by Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (the group that has always offered explanation each time Christian Farmers were slaughtered in the middle-belt) that it has formed nationwide armed vigilantes and President’s silence is a further sign of lack of political will to confront the war crimes and crimes against humanity in general and Christians in particular taking place in Nigeria.
We wonder why the Presidency is silent when these persons have announced formation of a policing agency under their purview as against the constitutional provisions. If we may ask, Which state House of assembly has authorized the operation of such vigilantes by armed Fulani Herdsmen? State House of Assembly are empowered to make law for the security and good governance of their states as provided for in section 4 of the Constitution but the Constitution does not permit the creation of alternative nationwide policing agency- the type being announced by MIYETTI ALLAH.
*Our Position and Demands*
The idea of forming a policing Agency by a group that has repeatedly claimed responsibility for the killing of thousands of innocent citizens, majority of whom are Christian farmers is a plain tactic by the Fulani socio-cultural Association; Miyatti Allah Cattle owners Association or whatever name so-called to continue to promote their wicked and coldhearted activities to another level. We are aware that there is another law abiding segment of Fulani ethnic group also identified as MIYETTI ALLAH but the version that announced the formation of a nationwide armed vigilantes is the same that gas consistently advanced and canvassed explanation for the series of mass killings of Christians by armed Fulani herdsmen.
There are various reports holding core intelligence that this segment of Miyatti Allah Cattle Association of Nigeria has repeatedly claimed responsibility for the killing of thousands of children, women and other vulnerable people in different states; yet no arrest has been made as the members of the group walk freely in Abuja, holding press conferences and threatening to unleash terror on the people of this country under the guise of forming a vigilante group.
For instance, according to a 2018 article by the Guardian Newspaper on a report of an interview the President of Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria gave to BBC Pidgin indicated that the Fulani attacks on 1st January 2018 that killed 17 people in Benue State were in self-defense against cattle rustlers (Guardian 6 January, 2018).
Also, The Nation Newspaper of 25 June, 2018 quoted the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria chairman for the North Central zone as stating the following:
“These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human being(s), the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on a revenge mission. … There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen.
“The people carrying out these criminal activities are well known to the communities but the communities are hiding them. … Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks – 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu.”
These are only but a few of the accounts of how the killing of human beings is being justified by an alleged killing of cows by the Miyatti Allah Cattle owners Association of Nigeria
We hereby reiterate our call for the arrest and prosecution of members of the group to end the spate of war crimes in the country. We equally urge the Federal Government to stop looking elsewhere for these Armed Fulani bandits who have been killing innocent Nigerians. The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore members are the alleged coordinators of the armed Fulani banditry in the country, and officials of the group reside in Abuja whose life patron is President Buhari. Let all those who are quoted in the media as providing explanation for the mass killings over the years be arrested and prosecuted and the group declared a terrorists group.
*COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO:
*Miss. Zainab Yusuf:
Director, National Media Affairs.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
August 3rd 2020.