Suspected Fulani militants are planning the “systematic extermination” of “nationalities” in Nigeria’s Middle Belt and the take-over of their ancestral lands, according to the President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Jonathan Asake.
In this part of the country, Christian-majority people-groups are frequently targeted in violent attacks.
Speaking on Nigerian television on 6 August, Asake said people were being killed, their homes looted and burned and their farmlands destroyed because of their “ethnicity, beliefs and cultural practices” while the authorities looked the other way.
Aske argued that the “carnage and destruction” being waged in Plateau, southern Kaduna, Benue, Nasarawa and Niger states amounted to “genocide”.
He cited a series of attacks in July on Atyap communities in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of southern Kaduna State in which at least 28 were killed, about 400 homes burned, property looted and crops destroyed. Around 84% of the Atyap people are Christian.
As result of recent attacks, Asake said, many communities have been abandoned and taken over by the attackers, but the government had not yet provided help for the victims. He said in southern Kaduna, where the Christian-majority population has been subject to an escalating number of attacks, the government had failed to set up any organised camps for Internally Displaced People fleeing violence.
None of the Fulani attackers has been arrested or prosecuted even though their names are known, claimed Asake. Furthermore, he accused the security services of arresting villagers when they attempted to defend themselves, citing the arrest of Atyap leaders and elders of the majority-Christian Adara people.
Each time there is an attack, he said, Kaduna State governor Nasir el-Rufai imposed lengthy curfews on communities leaving survivors to suffer the loss of loved ones and the destruction of their homes while being unable to go out and tend to their fields.
Violence against Nigerian Christians – especially those in the northern and Middle Belt states – is escalating, with church leader Stephen Baba Panya also describing as genocide the ongoing Fulani violence against the Irigwe people of Plateau State.