Armed Jihadist Group:
Armed jihadist group: At least 100 Christians in Nigeria were killed and hundreds of others injured in April 2019. This is according to a human rights watchdog group. They are warning that armed jihadist group attacks against Christian farming communities seem to be spreading further south.
The Anambra-based nongovernmental organization known as the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety). They released a special report this week stating that the 100 Christians were killed by armed jihadist groups. This comprises of the Fulani and Boko Haram in April.
The report details that in Nigeria between 750–800 Christians have been killed by these armed jihadist groups. This account is covering the first four months of 2019.
Of those killings, the NGO states that about 550 to as many as 600 killings were perpetrated by Fulani Islamic militias. They are putatively sponsored by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN). Federally registered group that advocates for Fulani pastoralists whom critics have called for to be labeled as a “terror” organization.
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“In the just past four months of 2019 (January–April), the armed jihadist group had butchered 550–600 Christians. At the same time, they left hundreds of homes and dozens of churches torched or destroyed” the NGO reports.
The other 200 killings thus far in 2019, Intersociety reports, have been carried out by armed jihadist group Boko Haram. Also, by the Islamic State in West Africa, this has terrorized northeastern Nigeria, parts of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
Intersociety Report On The Armed Jihadist Group:
While estimates on the number of people killed in societal violence in Nigeria often vary. Intersociety board chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi, a Christian criminologist and human rights activist. He told The Christian Post that the numbers the organization presents are based on “empirical” evidence that can be defended in court.
All attacks on Christian farming communities over the last several years have largely occurred in the Middle Belt of Nigeria. This is as armed jihadist group from the north have migrated. The report warns that victims in the southeast Anambra state and southern Delta state were also included in the latest round of killings in April.
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“The latest round of anti-Christian killings or massacres in the country translates to a monthly average of 180–200. This is in the past four months, with daily average of six to seven Christian deaths. However, the killings are steadily creeping toward the Southern part of Nigeria. Particularly the Southeast and South-south; capable of igniting ‘holy war’ and intertribal cleansing,” the report reads.
On April 12, suspected armed jihadist group were reported to have stormed a farm settlement in West Anambra and killed six people while injuring 30 others. The armed jihadist group were also said to have killed people, burned houses and raped women.
The Guardian reports that as many as 11 people were killed by armed jihadist group attacks against farming communities in Delta in early April. This led a state official to ask Buhari and other office holders to help stop armed jihadist group attacks against innocent people on farmlands in the state.
Armed Jihadist Group Attacks Continues:
The report also highlights more killings in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the Kaduna State. This is an area that has been plagued by killings in recent months.
On April 8, the NGO reports that at least 22 Christians were killed in an attack carried out by suspected armed jihadist group. The Punch reports that two Christian boys were beaten. This happened while on their way home from the market last week in Kajuru after the body of a Hausa Fulani boy was discovered. One boy was taken to the hospital where he later died.
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Intersociety has long criticized the federal government’s inability to hold perpetrators of the attacks accountable.
The Intersociety report was highly critical of MACBAN. An organization that the Christian Association of Nigeria had previously called on President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani himself, to prosecute.
“MACBAN also has Muhammadu Buhari as its lifetime patron,” the Intersociety report stresses. “Totality of these has emboldened the group and escalated its jihadist activities which have risen alarmingly since June 2015. This is exactly a month after Mr. Buhari became the president of Nigeria.”
According to the International Crisis Group, Buhari and his aides have rejected any notion that he is complicit in Fulani attacks. The nonprofit research organization adds that such a charge of pro-Fulani bias on Buhari’s part is “unsustainable”. Due to the Buhari government’s inability to quell the escalation of banditry and killings in the predominantly Muslim Zamfara state.
But still some advocates for the Christian communities think the government is “culpable.”
NGOS Blamed It On Government Inaction:
“These communities and villages have been displaced and ransacked and you see armed jihadist group imposing themselves in that community.” Stephen Enada, co-founder of the International Committee on Nigeria, previously told CP. “They are not arrested or being persecuted. Rather, it is just government inaction showing us that government is culpable.”
Intersociety had previously reported that Fulani extremists were responsible for the death of about 2,400 Christians in 2018.
Most recently, over a dozen Christians were killed by Fulani extremists during an infant’s dedication service in Nasarawa on Palm Sunday.
Violence between Muslim Fulani extremists and predominantly Christian farming communities in the Middle Belt has largely been described by the federal government, international media and prominent human rights groups as a “herder-farmer” conflict over land rights.
But Christian advocates in or from Nigeria have warned that the conflict has taken on a religious element in recent years. And that calling it a farmer-herder conflict simplifies the catastrophic incidents.
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However, herder communities have been victimized in attacks or reprisals carried out by militants and teens from farming communities. Umeagbalasi estimates that there is about one reprisal attack from a farming community for every 20 attacks committed by Fulani extremists.
Jack McCaslin, a research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a recent op-ed that while violence in Nigeria might fall along ethnic and religious lines, it is “not necessarily driven by those distinctions.”
This Fulani violence against Christian farming communities, Umeagbalasi believes that calling it a “farmer-herder clash” is a “false claim”. That is perpetuated by the Nigerian government.
U.S State Department Concern:
“The government further down-plays, trivializes and stigmatizes the pure Christian genocide as ‘herders-farmers clashes’. And it stops at nothing in censoring and gagging media reports of the butcheries,” the Intersociety report reads. Also adding that the Nigerian government only accounts for no less than 980 Christian deaths since August 2015.
Intersociety reports that there have been at least 6,000 Christian deaths and destruction of over 1,000 churches. All from Fulani extremists attacks between June 2015 and December 2018.
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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended that the U.S. State Department designate Nigeria as a “country of particular concern” for religious freedom. In its 2019 annual report, USCIRF stated that ethnic and religious identity in Nigeria is often “intertwined” in the context of societal conflicts.
“The dynamic of the religious and ethnic violence — and where and how religion and ethnicity overlap — is highly localized,” the USCIRF report explains.
Boko Haram, also known as the Islamic State in West Africa continues its terror on villages in the Lake Chad area.
In late April, it was reported that Boko Haram killed about 25 people. As they were returning from a wedding in the Kuda-Kaya village in Adamawa state.
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