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Crime researcher faults Global Terrorism Index’s ‘Fulani extremists’ generalisation

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A senior researcher at the Transnational Threats and International Crime at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, Dr Akinola Olojo, has faulted the Global Terrorism Index over “Fulani extremists” generalisation.

“‘Fulani extremists’ used by the Global Terrorism Index itself is subject to debate because it raises issues of generalisation about an entire ethnic group,” Dr Olojo said in an exclusive chat with The Guardian Nigeria.

The researcher was reacting to the 2019 Global Terrorism Index report. The report shows that Nigeria remains the third most impacted country in the world by terrorism – a position it has retained since 2015.

“The increase in deaths was the result of the intensification of the conflict between pastoralists and the nomadic Fulani people, with deaths attributed to extremist Fulani elements increasing by 261 per cent in a single year,” the GTI report said.

Dr Olojo believes that the conflicts are “very sensitive issues” and that resolving them demands “a lot of commitment and will on the part of the government to investigate the specific actors involved.”

Nigeria witnessed a lot of violent clashes between suspected herders and farmers, especially in the north-central region of the country. States like Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba saw multiple fatal clashes.

Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) denied that its members were responsible for the killings. MACBAN insisted its members were being singled out for vilification.

“It’s not true that every herdsman is Fulani,” David Ajikobi, director of fact-checking website Africa Check told AFP in April.

“A blanket categorisation of herders as Fulani is stereotyping the issue and such a tendency should be avoided.”

Olojo agreed with this point.

He said the major challenge in resolving the crisis lies the “ambiguity and controversy” surrounding the identity of the perpetrators of the violence.

“For instance, while it is very clear that the violence constitutes acts of terror on affected communities, it remains a challenge to clearly identify who the exact perpetrators are, along with understanding the flow of weapons, funds and possibly sponsors of attacks,” Olojo said.

Meanwhile, a presidential aide said 2,464 suspects have been arrested by security operations.

“The various operations of the security agencies have led to the arrest and prosecution of 2,464 suspects arrested,” Ayo Akanji, a member of President Muhammadu Buhari media team, told The Guardian Nigeria.

Akanji said the farmer-herder conflict has become “Nigeria’s gravest security challenge” adding that the Nigerian government had “established a National Food Security Council to address food and agriculture sectors aimed at promoting National Food Security and looking out for solutions to civil conflicts, insurgency etc.”

The GTI report indicates that deaths caused by Boko Haram dropped by 42 per cent in 2018 compared to the previous year, “an 89 per cent decline from their peak in 2014.”

Moreover, the fatality rate of Boko Haram attacks has fallen from 15 deaths per attack to four in the past five years. This is consistent with the Nigerian government’s claims of having substantially degraded the insurgents.


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