Adara: Nigerians from predominantly Christian tribes in Nigeria visited the United States this week. They came to share how their tribes are now “homeless” and “sleeping under the skies”. This happened after recent massacres at the hands of Fulani radicals and unwanted actions taken by the government.
Two members from the Adara community, a majority Christian ethnic group in Southern Kaduna state, shared their experiences. During a panel event sponsored by the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. The event also featured persecuted Nigerians from other parts of the country.
Alheri Magaji, the daughter of the current leader of the Adara Chiefdom, told the audience about how her ethnic group suffered vicious attacks. These attacks were carried out from mid-February through April this year. And such left about 400 dead and displaced thousands in her community.
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“Right now my tribe is nonexistent legally,” Magaji explained. “Part of the reason why I am here is to try to get my land back. That is who I am. That is my identity. And that is what makes me. My people are stranded. They are literally sleeping under the skies on the floor [with] no houses, no food, nothing. It is not about relief materials and how much we can donate. It’s about holding the government accountable.”
However, previously a series of Fulani attacks were carried out in Adara communities. These communities are located in the Kajuru local government area in a span of a few weeks by suspected Fulani radicals. Along with the hundreds of lives taken, countless buildings were burned and destroyed.
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Fulani herdsmen, many of which are Muslim, are a nomadic ethnic group found in West and Central Africa. The conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria has been ongoing for decades. Magaji and other panelists explained that attacks launched by Fulani radicals in the last few years are more atrocious than the farmer-herder conflicts that came before.
“I spoke to a woman whose limbs were cut off. She had four kids and was nine months pregnant,” Magaji recalled. “Fulani herdsmen came to a Kajuru town in February, about 400 of them with AK-47s. They came at around 6:30 a.m. They spoke Adara. And they came in with war songs. They were singing songs that translate into ‘the owners of the land have come. It’s time for settlers to leave.’”
“We have 2-month-old babies, 6-month-old babies, babies in the bellies turned from their mother’s womb and slaughtered like animals, like chickens,” she continued. “We are here today to beg the U.S. government and for the world to hear our story.”
By the time the series of Fulani attacks occurred this past spring, the Adara tribe had already been pushed into a state of uncertainty. Magaji said last May that the Kaduna government passed a measure to split the Adara chiefdom. And this effort is geared at creating a Fulani Muslim emirate in Kajuru.
The Adara community detested such a proposal. Magaji added that the Adara chief was kidnapped last Oct. 19 and murdered about a week later even though a ransom was paid for his release.
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“It was when the chief died that the elders in our land realized that the governor … [said that] Adara Christians are now under a Muslim Hausa-Fulani emirate,” she explained. “It is so ridiculous that it was already signed into law and nobody knew about it. For a governor to make that kind of law in the first place without the people of the land knowing about it is illegal and unjust.”
Magaji said that the elders of her community tried to pressure the government but “nobody would listen.”
“When they realized that nobody was going to listen to them, they took the matter to court,” she explained. “A week after the civil case started in court, my dad and eight other elders were arrested and thrown into prison for no reason.”
Magaji said the state government blamed the Adara elders for the death of 66 Fulani herdsmen that were killed in February 2019.
“The problem we have with the statement the governor made is that on the 10th of February, 11 Adarra people were killed,” she said. “The government didn’t say anything about it even when the leaders of the community officially made statements.” “Aren’t we citizens?”
Magaji said that in April, Kaduna Gov. Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai set up a commission to abolish indigeneship in the state. For the Adara community, she said, that means that the government is now taking away their chiefdom. And their right to be considered an indigene of the state.
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“We are wondering as Adarra people aren’t we citizens of Kaduna state?” she asked. “If you are taking away my chiefdom and there is no Adara anymore, are you saying that I am no longer even an indigene of Kaduna state?
“A Fulani man can come and register as a citizen of Kaduna state and get all the benefits of a citizen while I am a true indigene of the state and I get no allocations and I am not recognized at all?”
Last Friday, she said, another bill was passed allowing government officials to regulate preachers in the Kaduna state.
“It is so unbelievable sometimes that if I wasn’t living it, I wouldn’t believe it,” she said.
“A government official is supposed to tell a preacher how to preach and what to say. The license is to be renewed every year. That tells you that if you don’t do what the government says, in a year, you lose your license, even in churches. It is only what the government allows you to say that you are allowed to say to the congregation.”
Magaji fears that the Adara tribe will end up going “extinct.”
“The government takes over and does whatever it wants to do,” she added. “It’s a plan that if it is not [halted] right now, it’s going to be terrible for the world at large. There is a genocide going on. Every morning we wake up to different stories.”
She said that anytime someone tries to speak out about what is happening to the Adara community, they are arrested. However, she added that no Fulani radical has yet been arrested for the mass killing of Adara citizens.
“As I stand here right now, I have been warned not to say a word because I might be killed,” she said. “If you speak about it, you could be killed, thrown in prison or harassed by the police.”
“What have I got to lose if I don’t talk?” she continued. “My family is killed every day. My dad was locked up for over 100 days. And my tribe is now extinct. If I keep quiet, to what gain will that be? The people who die every day are human beings too. If I have an opportunity to let the world know what is happening in my hometown. I will do anything to be able to save even one life.”
Mercy Maisamari, the daughter of the head of the Adara Development Association who was kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen and later released on ransom, said during the event that girls like her are kidnapped on a daily basis.
“They kidnap you, they do whatever, they beat you up, they abuse you,” she added. “Some will ask you, ‘Where is your Jesus? Call your Jesus to come and save you.’”
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