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.
Official appeal on Twitter for Nigerian election incident reports —
And the election parade, as it were, from a so-far calm point of observation.
The world may be still a mystery online: where’s the action? 🙂 What’s coming off it in social media? What could do with authentication but for which the blogger’s desktop is rather out of the loop (for not being there)?
“They just burnt our votes!”
— APC Thugs With Help Of Securities Destroying Ballot Materials In PDP Strongholds.
This is how Buhari hopes to remain in power. Disenfranchisement, intimidation and burning of the Votes of thousands of voters in PDP Strongholds. – Hope For Nigeria (on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hopefornigeria/ ).
The peaceful change of power by fair and free elections marks democracies, but what are these between states that year after year as corrupt and despotic beneath a veneer of civil democratic governance?
The civilizational narcissism associated with Islam in Nigeria, mostly in the north, has an incumbent Muslim president (Buhari) who has packed the top tier of his military and police services with Muslim officers, and the Christian communities know as much. Between widespread poverty and religious animus and the prospect of Islamic tyranny, the thugs seem to come out to ensure their side remains superior in political power, and generally speaking that has been the Muslim side.
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has come under intense scrutiny for suspending his country’s Chief Justice just weeks before a general election, a move that critics have attacked as tyrannical and unconstitutional.
Buhari defended his decision on Twitter, saying corruption allegations against Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen — who has been accused of failing to disclose bank accounts in foreign currencies — are “grievous.” But the move was labelled a “coup against democracy” by the President of the Nigerian Senate, and prompted an outcry from the country’s major opposition party, which halted its presidential election campaign temporarily in protest.
In addition to the latest imbroglio involving Nigeria’s chief justice, a matter not overlooked by the U.S. State Department, Buhari has been accused of permitting Fulani gang raids against Christian farming villages (whose firearms have been confiscated in advance by the state — in Nigeria, urban thugs may own arms illegally — who’s to know? — while farmers are made to provide easy targets for burn-and-shoot raiders armed with AK-47s and gasoline) and of packing his highest-level security offices with Muslims, and so in essence channeling power and wealth to the Muslim community while slowly displacing Christian power.
BackChannels asked its Nigerian source for suggestion as to who would make a better — more balanced, higher integrity — politician, now or in the future, for Nigeria’s leadership. The names returned were Fela Durotoye, Jimi Agbaje, Kingsley Moghalu, and Oby Ezekwasili. The Nobel Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka was mentioned as well, but BackChannels suggested he may well remain Nigeria’s soul in letters and perhaps the natoin’s most influential intellectual. With context, here is what Soyinka had to say (in the Daily Nation) about this month’s Nigerian Presidential Elections (February 16):
Mr Buhari, 76, came to power in 2015 and is seeking a second term in the February 16 vote. His main challenger is 72-year-old Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me make my position quite clear because I don’t want any ambiguity; I, Wole Soyinka, will not be voting for either,” he was quoted in local media as saying on Thursday at a forum in Lagos.
Herewith some starting reference to good-for-Nigeria political personalities as mentioned by BackChannel’s source. The bolded names have been linked to their respective Wikipedia pages; tweets, news, and news headers remain recent; note: Oby Ezekwasili has dropped out of the Presidential race to help swing her fan base vote to a candidate better positioned, perhaps, to beat the incumbent President Buhari; Omoyele Sowore, not mentioned in casual conversation, has been added by BackChannels for showing up fast on this subject — Nigeria’s upcoming elections — on the web.
In a 2013 interview with The Punch Newspaper, Agbaje talked about how he began in politics: “It had to do with the Moshood Abiola/Bashir Tofa presidential election”, he said. “I saw the annulment as a personal insult and an assault on the Nigerian people. This led to my first entry into what I would call activism, working with other concerned professionals” such as Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr Ayo Ighodaro, Asue Ighodalo, Billy Lawson, Oby Ezekwesili, Tola Mobolurin and Hassan Odukale. Jimi was in one form of resistance group or the other which ultimately led him to join the socio-political organization, Afenifere where he served as national treasurer.
The campaign convoy was on its way out of the palace, when the hoodlums, numbering about 40, chased and threw stones at Agbaje’s vehicles.
There were minor injuries involving shattered vehicle window glass, and tear gas was used to disperse the mob according to the above piece published yesterday in Sahara Reporters. How the hoodlums were organized and by whom? That would be something to know and report. For the time being, the news tells of the tone of elections in a wealthy oil producing nation sadly rife with corruption.
BackChannels has referred here and there to corruption as the cancer of states. Where the Transnational Crime Organizations are strongest and bribes to the powerful would seem to be working, the money gets laundered and into the topside economy, which essentially may make the public unwittingly dependent on a growing criminal sector. Around the world, for better or worse because it’s just a fact of life at this point, public money that may be quietly, surreptitiously pried into private pockets would seem to be moved away from public community development and other services. The only way to get the brakes on nefarious processes — organized crime, embezzlement, and skimming — is to bring to power more modern politicians and their better associates in military and paramilitary services.
In one direction, the state sinks, and the end — or political hell — will look something like Venezuela at this hour, i.e., broken, starving, beneath common dignity and freedom; and in the better direction, the state grows a healthy economy, ordered and with funds available for all ordinary operations and the most helpful of public and social services. One may hope for Nigeria that the personalities who would be most ambitious and competent on the public’s behalf will rise to their occasions and prevail over the unerringly corrupt, nepotistic, and toadying of the breed.
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.
The gun men came from the hills, armed with guns and machetes under the cover of an afternoon rain. They split into groups and selected remote areas within walking distances of between 40 and 50 minutes to unleash mayhem on innocent lives.
Before then, they had laid ambush on mourners returning from a funeral service in Kakuruk village and simultaneously raided nearby villages, shooting, stabbing and maiming anyone at sight. Even the youthful and agile were helpless as the scoundrels massacred and soiled the land with tears and blood. Witnesses said the carnage lasted for hours and travellers evacuated their vehicles and fled into the bush.
Fulani brigades appear to arrive in numbers great enough to surround their targets and destroy them with automatic weapons and petrol. For Christian defense: nothing — not weapons, which are confiscated by the government to discourage “vigilante actions”, not terrain, which is rugged but short on natural barriers to foot and vehicle assault, not military or police, who are either spread thin and easily confused or disinterested — and that last has become a point in political contention about the sincerity of Nigerian Muslim President Buhari in relation to his commitment to secure the Christian community in Nigeria.
The blue frown refers to the 200 Nigerian recently killed by Fulani raiders in Plateau State.
United States Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr W. Stuart Symington has enjoined both the Nigerian leaders and citizens to make concerted efforts to stop the killings currently ravaging the country. The ambassador was speaking at ceremonies marking the 242 years of Independence for the United States of America.
Symington speaking on the situation in Nigeria said every day, people’s hopes are stopped by unnecessary deaths and by those whose acts reflect no good and served no cause.
“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.
In the little more than two years since the above was posted, Fulani-associated attacks on Nigerian farming villages have skyrocketed, bringing to play suspicions about a Muslim dominated government and security apparatus. One BackChannels source has suggested that all the top military and police officers have Arab names and Islamic affiliation, and, therefore, so may go the reasoning, the same have turned a blind eye to attacks in the making. Add to that, the state’s confiscation of old unregistered firearms from villagers, leaving the same completely bared to the whims of AK-47 equipped rape-and-rapine “Fulani Land Pirates”.
Not surprisingly, the complaint of Islamic Jihad and the ethnic cleansing of Christians has surfaced in more recent news.
Governor Ortom in his speech, stated that what was happening in the state was ethnic cleansing and Jihad. Ortom said, “this is not a hidden agenda, it’s known and those people who are perpetrating it did say it. They’re not hidden. They held press conferences, they came out and said they were going to resist our law, that they were going to do ethnic cleansing, it’s about Jihad, it’s about taking over the land, it’s not about herders and farmers clashes.
However, the “tank” in the photo appears to be a Panhard ERC-90 Sagaie, a wheeled armored fighting vehicle of French manufacture. Chad and Cote d’Voire each have a few of these vehicles, and, according to one commentator, the Nigerian military has forty-two of them. If that is accurate, then it is likely that the tank and the armored fighting vehicle were stolen from a Nigerian military armory and did not come from Libya.
Last year the police carried out a dawn raid on Orilowo-Ejigbo, a Lagos suburb, and arrested three men after seizing a cache of arms that was sufficient to outfit a 20-man army. In another incident last year, at the border town of Seme, bandits overwhelmed the huge security presence at the border post, laid in wait for traders and robbed them. Many lives were lost. As an officer testified after the incident, it wasn’t the effrontery of the robbers that unnerved him and his colleagues, but the sophistication
of the arms they used.
However acquired — and whatever the true (cultural, communal, economic, personal religious, social, tribal) motivations of Boko Haram or Fulani Land Pirates — the violence targeting the state’s peaceful (and disarmed) Christian communities has brought into view the possibilities for deep mistrust across the Christian-Muslim discriminator and forced the state to defend its integrity with greater military power, skill, and resolve, which, of course, requires heightened military spending.
Distilled: violent rogue organizations promote defense spending, i.e., they’re good for business!
Affected states, perhaps especially today Nigeria, have no choice but to heighten integrity in their ranks and push back or, over time, disintegrate down into feudal squabbles that might presage — for lack of decency in governance — meltdown into the modern dark ages of failed states.
At the same time, BackChannels fears the Orwellian possibility of state-based manipulation of bandits, jihadists, and raiders in the producing the sustained chaos and conflict profitable to two kinds of markets: 1) the black markets known to “failed states” and “frozen conflicts” in which authorities have been so compromised, corrupted, or otherwise weakened (absented in force) that anything goes and EVERYTHING illicit moves through the territory; and 2) the state-to-state business markets invested in defense economies nurtured for expansion.
Appreciate the contemplation: the truth really is Out There where ships stop in the night far out at sea and hours later smuggled arms move across the land toward the money that makes it all seem worthwhile.
What will happen if the seemingly limitless tide of young men recruited in the wild become supplied with shoulder-launched rockets?