Forgotten victims of herders’ violence – Part 2
On Boko Haram they wrote that the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram (also known by the far longer name Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad) was once the world’s deadliest terror group but it has been in decline since 2014 and has recently started to splinter into different factions, the largest of which is the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP). Since it emerged in the northeast of the country in 2002 it has spread out to other nearby countries including Chad, Cameroon and Niger and the group has sworn allegiance to Islamic State. The fall in terrorist deaths in Nigeria in recent years – the number of deaths is down 83% from the 2014 peak – indicates that the region’s security forces, assisted by international allies, are having an impact on groups such as Boko Haram, Forbes stated. “The battle is far from won, though. Boko Haram carried out 40% more attacks and was responsible for 15% more deaths in 2017 than in the year before”. “Most of the group’s attacks last year were carried out in Nigeria – particularly in Borno State – with smaller numbers in Cameroon and Niger. The group has gained notoriety for mass hostage takings and the extensive use of children and women as suicide bombers.” On Other terrorist groups the authors said that beyond these four deadly organizations, myriad other terrorist groups are active around the world. Last year, a total of 169 groups were responsible for at least one death, but more than 130 others also carried out attacks.
The authors specifically mentioned armed Fulani killers as some of the worst kinds of terrorists in the following words: “other less well-known groups are becoming more prominent, including the Fulani in Nigeria which was responsible for 321 deaths and 72 attacks in 2017. While those numbers represented a fall from its activities in 2016, IEP says that there has been a significant increase in violence by the group in 2018. Here are the armed Fulani killing templates: No fewer than 20 persons in Ukpabi Nimbo, an agrarian community in the Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State, were killed during an attack by Fulani herdsmen on Monday – April 25th 2016. It was learnt that scores of armed cattle rearers, reportedly numbering more than 100, stormed the sleepy community in the early hours of Monday. A national newspaper had reported then that the herdsmen had recruited scores of gunmen from Nasarawa State for the impending attack on the Enugu community. Sources in the community said sporadic gunshots were heard as the rampaging herdsmen moved to sack villagers from their homes. It was gathered that the invading cattle rearers carried guns, bows, arrows, machetes and swords to execute their mission. The invaders also set a Catholic church in the area on fire. Many of the villagers were said to have escaped to neighbouring communities in the Uzo-Uwani area, but it was gathered that people in the nearby towns were also worried about possible attacks from the herdsmen.
A police source told our correspondent that as of the time of filing this report, the corpses of five persons, who died in the attack, had been recovered. It was also learnt that the corpses, which were deposited at the morgue in Bishop Shanahan Hospital, Nsukka, were recovered from farmlands. There were indications that more bodies would be recovered as a combined team of police and military personnel, who moved into the community to quell the attack, had yet to reach all the affected areas. On April 23rd 2018 the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi confirmed the killing of two of its priests, Rev Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, in an early hour attack on St Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor, Mbalom in Gwer West Local Government Council of Benue. A statement by its Director of Communications, Rev Fr Moses Iorapuu, said that the attacks were perpetrated by herdsmen who stormed the Mbalom community and killed the two priests during the morning mass at the church. The Diocese expressed regret at the nonchalant attitude of the security agencies in containing the killings.
It said the herdsmen, who stormed the community, burnt down houses, destroyed crops and killed people. The church, therefore, urged the relevant authorities to stop the killings in the Benue valley. Iorapuu said the Diocese had been active in providing food and relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) since the onset of hostilities in the state and wondered why it could be marked as a target of attacks. “The attack on the priests is an attack on everything that we ever stood for and believed in.”
Plateau state perhaps has witnessed some of the worst cases of attacks. On June 23rd 2018, several people were allegedly killed in Gashish and Ropp Districts of Plateau State on Sunday, during attacks that were carried out on about 11 communities by suspected Fulani herdsmen. Subsequently, the Plateau State Government has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Jos South Local Government Areas. Although there were rumours that some soldiers might be missing, the Commander of the Special Military Taskforce code-named Operation Safe Haven, Major-General Anthony Atolagbe, said, “it’s not true, no soldier died and no soldier is missing.” The decision, according to the government, was to avert further breakdown of law and order.
A terse statement issued on Sunday by the Secretary to the State Government, Rufus Bature, said the movement was restricted from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, except for those on essential duties.” The attack was said to have been launched at Xland, Gindin Akwati, Ruku, Nghar, Kura Falls and Kakuruk all in Gashish District. The communities were completely sacked by the assailants, reports said. Other areas affected by the attack included Rakok, Kok and Razat all in Ropp District. The Chairman, Public Accounts and Petition Committee in Plateau State House of Assembly representing Barkin Ladi, Peter Gyendeng, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said the attack was “a declaration of war” on his constituency. He claimed that “mercenaries” have been hired to come and kill people in Barkin Ladi LGA. Southern Kaduna state has come under incessant attacks but the government has done nothing. The Federal government under the Fulani born President is rather planning to reward these killers by using public fund to set up grazing colonies for the cow owners but not one killer is punished and of course politicians including MIYETTI ALLAH CATTLE OWNERS that sponsors armed Fulani attacks are also on the campaign train of APC even as the thousands of victims of these genocides are forgotten by the power hungry elite.
The campaigns are ongoing and the victims are totally forgotten even as the group which supports much of these attacks is busy playing politics.
*Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)