In Nigeria, Fulani raids Christian villages have been taking place for years with at least implied complicity on the part of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari. The Fulani’s violence has been brutal and, if reports are to be believed, rising to a stage beyond atrocity in the recent burning of a family alive in its own house.
Ranchers v Farmers?
That’s a familiar framing, but in the press, Fulani barbarism — no other word comes close to describing the inhumanity of it — plays as it has elsewhere, i.e., as Islamic terrorism against civil society. The underlying purposes may be economic and ethnic, but the horror created and relayed through Nigeria’s press would seem the same as that unbridled violence delivered by ISIS.
The attackers had reportedly destroyed the bridge leading to the community thereby preventing possible access before launching the attacks.
An entire family was burnt alive in their homes while others that attempted to run into nearby bush were shot. Several persons sustained gunshot wounds and are being treated in the hospitals.
Yelwa-zangam community is dominated by Christian Anagutta natives.
Unknown assailants attacked the Yelwa Zangam community in Jos North Local Government Area (LGA), Plateau State overnight Aug 24-25. Initial accounts report that up to 36 residents died. Locals have attributed the attack to Fulani bandits who reportedly set bodies and homes on fire. Reports also indicate the attackers set fire to a bridge leading to the impacted area to prevent security personnel from responding. Authorities did confirm the incident without providing the casualty toll and announced that 10 individuals have already been arrested.
The incident underscores the deteriorating security situation in Plateau. Following a similar fatal incident Aug. 14, authorities imposed curfews in Jos North, Jos South, and Bassa LGAs. The curfews remain in effect 18:00-06:00 as of Aug. 25.
The article features a Gombe State case study that romanticizes the Fulani at peace within their own ethnic and religious community. My question for you: why not take Taraba, Benue, or even Plateau State in the north central region of Nigeria or the more than 16 states that have experienced horrific violence and see the story through the eyes of the bereaved and dispossessed?
Screen capture of the outline of Gombe State, Nigeria, October 1, 2018.
BackChannels’ editor has been responding to a contact in Nigeria with interest in what this blog has referred to as the “Fulani Land Pirates” — and this has been the year for watching “activity” (brigandage or warfare or both) that has amounted to the ethnic cleansing of Christian villages from the land with either apparent or somewhat implied complicity on the government’s part.
Last month, The New York Times (TYNT) published an overview of the Fulani drifting — in part a response to desertification — and the related conflict, but the journalist chose to paint a romantic view of the Fulani who have indeed lived with the bravado, color, and community known to nomadic herdsmen. On behalf of Nigeria’s isolated or remote Christian community, the contact took exception to that depiction.
The edited letter was submitted to TNYT last week (October 24), but having not appeared, BackChannels offered to publish it.
I don’t believe there has been a deliberate attempt to mislead the general public and do injustice to the thousands of people that have been raped, hacked or killed by assaults associated with herdsman, but the numbers in the article have merely hinted at the scale of the violence. Many attacks have involved marauding “troops” with numbers above one-hundred, and as a consequence today there are thousands of people living in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in states like Benue, Taraba and Plateau.
Herder umbrella groups like Miyetti Allah that have issued threat of violence and followed through with hundreds of people killed were not mentioned in the article.
Moreover, the failure of security under the present government to arrest these killers was also not mentioned.
Portraying the southern part of Nigeria as a Christian majority viewing herders as beheaders, rapists, or Boko Haram may suggest bias in support of the herders. The truth is the southern portion of Nigeria has accommodated all despite differences in culture and religion.
In fact, most herders have lived peacefully with their hosts until turning without warning to run the same off the land.
In the past few years, the continuous influx of herders into Nigeria coupled with ethnic and religious issues and a complete absence of the rule of law have set loose countless raiders against Christian farmers.
Southern Nigeria has been organized into three large geopolitical zones comprised of 17 states, most of which have suffered murders, kidnappings, destroyed property, and the loss of farmland. At times, related arson has been dramatically political. The burning of a farm owned by Chief Olu Falaye on 21 January 2018 and the burning of former naval chief Afolayan’s 90 hectares of productive land – oranges, cassava, and palm – deliberately beg the public’s conscience and patience in relation to the desire for earnest state defense.
I also disagree with the article’s position that the President has not done much for Fulani herdsmen.
President Buhari has represented Fulni interests more than those of any other group. In October 13, 2010 he led a protest to the Oyo state government complaining about the treatment of Fulani herders despite that he was acting on a wrong heading. He also has tried to grab land to give to the Fulani herders but has been impeded only by constitutional arrangements in which lands are not vested with the Federal government but with state governments.
The article features a Gombe state case study that romanticizes the Fulani at peace within its own ethnic and religious community. My question for you: why not take Taraba, Benue or even Plateau State in the north central region of Nigeria or the more than 16 states that have experienced horrific violence and see the story through the eyes of the bereaved and dispossessed?
Why whitewash this conflict that at the hands of Kalashnikov-armed Fulani herdsman has seen numerous Christian villages burned and ethnically cleansed in the manner of medieval rape and rapine?
One may concede that cattle rustling is a major problem that affects herders, and that rustlers – as bandits often do – cut across ethnic boundaries (as widely reported in Zamfara State where the majority are Hausa-Fulani Muslims), and the police should up their game on bringing to justice those criminals.
For peace for the near future of Nigeria, ranching would be the best solution to pursue through legal political processes. The frontier for nomadic herding without boundaries may need to be closed.
Screen capture, Plateau State, Nigeria, October 1, 2018.
For the Christian communities of Nigeria’s semi-arid northern margins: death by a thousand cuts, but just a few at a time.
And what in Nigerian conflicts constitutes “a cut”?
There are over 5,000 persons who have been displaced and these people are being camped at Numan. So far, we have buried 27 persons; these are corpses of men, women and children recovered from Gon, Nzumosu, Bolki and Nyanga.
The “cuts” — the atrocities — have been taking place across Nigeria’s portion of the “middle belt” of Africa for years without resistance and without end.
Apparently in store for the Christian population in general: rape and rapine designed to break hearts and spirits and move the feet toward the unknown sea of humanity abused, driven off, ignored, loathed, perhaps, as the expensive and unwanted detritus of chaos and conflict.
Nigeria’s military and police services appear to avoid or deny responsibility in relation to the repeated success of the employment of Kalashnikov and burning petrol in making the land fit for cattle and the Fulani herdsman who own them.
Bold italics added by BackChannels:
The lawmaker, however, accused security agencies of stationing in Abbare of negligence noting that she wonders why they could not prevent the attack which has been consistent from that axis.
Police authorities could not confirm the attack as calls put through to the police spokesman, Habibu Musa, were not answered.
YOLA- Four communities in Numan local government area of Adamawa state, have been completely razed by suspected herdsmen, killing no fewer than 15 persons.
Fleeing residents disclosed that the attackers numbering over 50 came in hilux vans to commit the heinuos acts and razed down many buildings in the affected villages. They alleged that the attackers stormed the area shortly after troops of the Nigerian Army ransacked the villages to enforce the disarmament of citizens in line with a presidential directive.
I asked a source about police not answering what must have been a distress or emergency call: “Bribed? Scared? Sabotaged?” — “Order from above,” he said.
Today, opinions about President Buhari’s nepotism in related hiring appear abundant in the Nigerian press. Critics feel the president has been slowly feeding Christian communities in the north to equipped, experienced, and deeply sadistic Muslim raiders representing the interests of Fulani herdsman.
The records of top executives in state security, military, and police roles may add credence to the complaint. Here is a remark published in relation to Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police:
With Idris at the helm, there has also been a disturbing increase in the arrest of journalists and bloggers in Nigeria. His reign has been a threat to free speech for journalists. This Idris is committing so many atrocities in the name of maintaining law and order, while the places in need of law and order are becoming national atrocities.
Global rankings for press freedom has gotten worse under Buhari and this IGP. Nigeria now sits at 122 of 180 countries surveyed, falling from 111 under former president Goodluck Jonathan and ex-IGP, Solomon Arase.
ONCE again, Alhaji Mansur Dan Ali, Minister of Defence, has demonstrated his characteristic insensitivity to the feelings of thousands of people who lost relations, homes and other material belongings to the murderous adventures of the herdsmen militia groups in some states in the North.
On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Dan Ali shocked Nigerians, particularly, the traumatised survivors of the mass attacks and killings by herdsmen with the suggestion that the law prohibiting open grazing passed by Taraba, Benue and Ekiti states governments be suspended as precondition for the killings to stop. He offered the suggestion on his way out of a security meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, suggesting, perhaps, that this may have been the decision taken at the meeting.
“Published on May 9, 2018: Infectious in beat, jarring in violence and imagery, Donald Glover’s new music video “This Is America” touches on painful racial history and our contemporary culture of mass entertainment and murder. Jeffrey Brown talks with Rolling Stone contributor Tre Johnson about the video and the ways African-American artists are reflecting the nuanced tensions in how we depict black lives in America.”
What blogger / writer needs to write when compilations are practically ready-made?
Nigerian rapper Falz the Bad Guy, a former lawyer, has released a riff on Childish Gambino’s This is America, in which the song and music video are copied and reworked.
It’s good to know which video arrived first, but I’m not certain that it matters: we’re a wild species often accurately reflected in the poets’ mirrors. However, seeing ourselves so depicted, we might consider getting ahead of some basic challenges rather than acquiescing to being forever jerked around by them.
Posted to YouTube June 30, 2017
Posted to YouTube January 9, 2018: “Reacting to the incessant killing by Fulani herdsmen across the country, Comrade Mohammed Kudu Abubakar, Deputy National President of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately pronounce herdsmen as a terrorist organization.”
Ultimate hope: expand old pasturage by reversing desertification where possible and producing ranch land with grazing crops, fenced boundaries, and appropriate agricultural cycling or rotations of cattle if, where, and as possible. Such armchair suggestions are, of course, easier said than done — and BackChannels, as have many others, have heard the “ranching solution” mentioned elsewhere. The same, however, needs to be done, and most complicating: cultural habits (for that, refer to Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” —Wikipedia entry; article online).
As regards Christian-Muslim enmity based in the uptick in violence and apparent disinterest of the government in responding to the barbarism — it’s really nothing else — BackChannels may note that both Boko Haram and Fulani violence may be associated with Chinese and Russian — and, most recently, American — defense sales to Nigeria. Perhaps both faith communities should appreciate Mr. Abubakar’s interest in investigating the path backward to getting AK-47s into Fulani hands.
And if AK-47s, why not later — if a civil war can be set up — MANPADS? RPGs? “Technicals”?
How much “low intensity conflict” or “small war” does it take to sell to one state or another how many billions of dollars worth of aircraft or other defense equipment and supporting systems?
It’s a cynical question but possibly one of the most interesting as regards civilizational ambitions and “realpolitik”.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described ‘This is Nigeria’ song by Nigerian Singer, Folarin Falana, AKA, Falz the Bahd Guy, as a ‘hate video and an assault on the self-dignity of every Muslim.’
BackChannels has heard that the effort to intimidate the artist has been rebuked; however, this marks the seventh day out from that threat, so the story may be something to watch in relation to Nigeria’s cultural freedom of expression.
Of the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped in Dapchi in February, 104 were released by the Boko Haram, five died during the kidnap while one remains with the terrorists for allegedly refusing to put on a hijab and renounce her Christian faith.
Her killers wear masks and appear to have no names.
From The Awesome Conversation —
The Ummah of Islam has bloody edges, and the Christian community of Nigeria appears to be an edge. The “Fulani Land Pirates” — that’s what I’m calling them — are nibbling away Nigerian Christian territory with rape and rapine, and the Christian community disarmed by the state is become “internally displaced”, currently by about 200,000 souls in relation to the Land Pirates, about 2 million in relation to Boko Haram, who have got a kind of game going: abduct, convert or kill, and return the sworn converts to their parents.
There are multiple levels in these conflicts — locally, Boko Haram is a scourge; however, the arms are Kalashnikov, generally speaking; we know today that Moscow arms and backs the Taliban in Afghanistan; we know that the same defends politically absolute systems, AKA “dictatorships”, and we know that the sponsors in the surrounds of these fighting elements, emir, general this or that, fit that description.
My call: it’s not overpopulation or too much imagination that drive the Islamic Small Wars, although that would be true for producing recruits for war parties: Nigeria provides dual images — the assaults of the Fulani Land Pirates in one part, the barbarism practiced by Boko Haram in the other — of the Islamist program of conquest “by the sword” in action.
Whatever reassurances and sweet words may come from the “leadership” may appear more and more as cover.
The marauders keep getting away — and refreshed with arms and funding keep returning too.
Posted to YouTube on February 26, 2018 — before the return of most of the schoolgirls: ” . . . and just asking how could our daughters be left unprotected to be taken again . . .?
Speaking in tears, the middle-aged resident of Jumbam, a village 2km away from Dapchi, said rather than the Nigerian soldiers combating the insurgents after they came back to drop the girls, the soldiers simply “watched with folded arms while the insurgents left triumphantly.”
The resident spoken was the father of Aisha Adamu, Adamu Jumbam.
The report involved 3,455 household surveys and 46 focus group discussions across 12 local government areas in Borno State. Most of the IDPs surveyed expressed fears about security as their main reasons for not wanting to return home.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has claimed on several occasions that Boko Haram—which has fractured into at least two major factions—was no longer a fighting force in Nigeria. But the militants have continued to launch attacks and have been solely responsible for some 700 deaths so far in 2017, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
IDMC estimates that there are almost 2,152,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Nigeria as of 31 December 2015 . . . .
Of the total figure of IDPs, the assessment indicates that 12.6 per cent were displaced due to communal clashes, 2.4 per cent by natural disasters and 85 per cent as a result of insurgency attacks by Islamists. The decrease in the percentage of IDPs who were displaced by insurgency from 95.3 per cent in August to 85 per cent in December 2015 and the increase in the numbers of those displaced by communal clashes from 4.6 per cent to 10.1 per cent in October were due to the inclusion of five additional States witnessing communal violence more than insurgency by Islamist groups.
But a source who also participated in the negotiations with Boko Haram that led to release of over 80 Chibok girls in 2017 told SaharaReporters that the federal government not only made the ransom payment of five million euros to the insurgents, it also exchanged some Boko Haram prisoners in return for the Dapchi girls.
However, the lie that no ransom was paid to secure the return of the Dapchi girls followed a consistent pattern of such under the table millions of dollars payments by the Nigerian government to Boko Haram to secure freedom of abductees, especially since the advent of the Buhari administration.
Addendum – More From the Awesome Conversation
Moscow’s hidden hand may be behind both conflicts — Boko Haram and the Fulani Land Pirates — for the still medieval Russian state appears to promote “political absolutism” — the power of the tyrant to destroy both property and persons with impunity — worldwide. In such systems, the state exists to serve the Great Leader who may hold his position beneath a banner and program essentially swallowed by the public. As regards dictatorships, one may say: “Different Talks — Same Walk!” Always.