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Forgotten victims of herders’ violence


The frame of a burnt out motorcycle is seen in a house burned down by Fulani herdsman in the Ganaropp village in the Barikin Ladi area near Jos on June 27, 2018. Plateau State in Nigeria has seen days of violence where more than 200 people have been killed in clashes between Berom farmers and Fulani herders, Nigeria is facing an escalation in clashes between farmers and Fulani herders over land use and resources that is deepening along religious and ethnic lines. STEFAN HEUNIS / AFP

Aside the fact that Nigeria is generally viewed as a paradox of a nation because of the inability of the nation – state to deploy the enormous natural and human resources to scale up the deteriorating standard of living and better the society for the benefit of all, it is also seen as such because of the dangerous collective abnesia that afflicts majority of the citizenry.

Few years back, a scholar was quoted as saying that most Nigerians when pushed to the wall, rather than fight back, would drill a hole through the wall and escape.

Most Nigerians seem to like persons who lack the courage of conviction to fight since it is generally assumed in Nigeria that only the living can fight a second time.


This unfortunate mindset has led many Nigerians to allow the society to go to the dogs and the institutions of State are now headed by persons who lack the necessary competences and skills to facilitate Nigeria’s arrival at the doorstep of 21st century compliant fast moving computer age.

Nigeria is stocked in the pre-medieval or rather Stone Age mentality of survival of the fittest whereby even those elected into office believe and practice the theory that says MIGHT IS RIGHT. 

This metaphor of Nigeria as a functional paradox simply means that millions of Nigerians are so docile to a fault to an extent that the population have this uncanny character to tolerate the worst forms of depraved and criminal leadership in the body politics.

The docility of the ordering Nigerian which is virulent is the cause of the gross underdevelopment of the country by the successive administrations, that have ruled the nation since independence.

The predatory political class have become prolific because the people are docile and are sleeping on their rights as human beings endowed with the faculties of Rationality and Resilience. 

The docility of a Nigerian and the lack of assertiveness is also the reason why there is virtually no good governance at virtually every levels of government.

It is for this intolerable level of docility that governance even at the most rudimentary levels have disappeared. 


Perhaps, the area that has suffered the most due to this groundswell of lack of the will to demand accountability from the leaders by the citizenry, is the persistent cases of violent attacks that take place in different parts of Nigeria by a diverse class of armed freelance killers and gangsters, but there is apparently no certainty that those who commit those atrocities and their sponsors responsible for thousands of fatalities can be brought to justice.

Aside the ugly fact that the wheel of justice moves dangerously slow, even slower than the weakest tortoise, there is usually the failure of most government officials to deliberately activate legal, judicial and law enforcement mechanisms that would decisively bring these violators of the Nigerian law to justice even when section 33 (1) of the constitution absolutely outlaws murder and extra judicial killings.

One issue in which this vexations docility and forgetfulness of the Nigerian has become ubiquitous are the various cases of organized killings by armed Fulani herdsmen who incidentally are rated highly as one of the most vicious terror organizations globally.

There have been cocktails of organized and properly choreographed attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen targeting mostly Christian farming communities in the North central region of Nigeria and Enugu in South East of Nigeria in the last three years, but even when over 10,000 casualties have been recorded from these dastardly attacks, but not one of these killers is behind bars.

The annoying thing is that some persons close to the current administration including the Defence minister and immediate past Inspector General of police have rationalized these armed Fulani killings. 


Benue, Plateau and Southern Kaduna states have become the killing fields of these armed Fulani attackers with back up from their trade association known as Miyetti Allah Cattle owners Association.

One sad reality about these dastardly crimes is that the platform that speaks for these suspected mass killers is seen as one of the most vociferous supporters of the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Miyetti Allah cattle owners Association which is the body that had often spoken in the media before and after suspected armed Fulani attacks in Christian dominated Northern Communities, was amongst the first group that visited President Muhammadu Buhari to endorse his re-election aspiration even when strident calls have been made for it to be classified as a terror organization.

However, the international community is not relenting in its rational approach towards exposing those they branded as dreaded terrorist groups which incidentally includes Miyetti Allah Cattle Owners Association.

Mind you, president Buhari quickly declared the peaceful agitators for self-rule in Igbo land known as IPOB as a terrorist organized whereas Miyetti which is the body that protects armed Fulani herdsmen that are responsible for some of the worst cases of mass genocides is flirting politically with Nigerian president including the Enugu state governor Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi even as Enugu his state faced armed Fulani herdsmen attacs twice in two communities killing scores of persons and unleashing devastation and destruction of property worth billions of Naira. 

Last week Miyetti Allah Cattle Owners body endorsed Ugwuanyi’s second term bid.


It would be recalled that two years ago when one of the Enugu state communities was attacked mercilessly by armed Fulani herdsmen leaving devastation and dozens of deaths, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was captured in the media shedding tears but after that he did nothing to prosecute the killers. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi indeed sheded crocodile tears. 

Before analyzing the template of attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen in the last three years in which president Buhari did nothing to stop the bloodshed nor prosecuted the suspected mass killers, I will revisit the global rating of terrorism whereby armed Fulani herdsmen featured prominently.

On December 5th 2018, published a piece titled “The deadliest Terrorist Groups in the World Today” in which the authors told us that of the 18,814 deaths caused by terrorists around the world last year, well over half were due to the actions of just four groups: Islamic state, the Taliban, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram.

Quoting Global Terrorism Index 2018, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) the authors said these four organizations were responsible for 10,632 deaths in 2017.

Their actions contribute to the instability of what are some of the most dangerous countries in the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria.

Over the past decade they have accounted for 44% of all terrorist deaths.

To be continued tomorrow

Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

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