10th June, 2019
1. What are the principal drivers of the violence?
The principal driver of the violence is the conviction of the Fulani leadership that Nigeria is “Allah’s gift” to the Fulani race to rule and subdue; and the consequent pursuit of a vision of establishing in Nigeria a territory where the Fulani people of West Africa could thrive, akin to the Nazis’ vision of a Lebenstraum for the Germans of Eastern Europe.
Islam religion is the principal tool for pushing this vision. Previous attempts to actualize the vision, under the war-cry of “dipping the koran into the Atlantic ocean” (ref 1) had been checkmated. In recent times, having obtained a more favourable political configuration, these ethnic supremacists are making, as it were, a final desperate push to actualize their vision. The current principal battlegrounds of Benue-Plateau region (and flashes in Osun-Kwara region) are precisely where the last attempt was stalled and thwarted. (Ref 2 and 3). The current violence is therefore clearly a more determined resumption of this long-planned and adequately advertised Fulanization agenda.
The following very well-known quotes corroborate the above position and speak eloquently for themselves:
“Allah has bestowed on me and my people the historic duty to spread the holy faith of the Prophet throughout the Caliphate and convert these pagans. If they refuse to accept Allah and his Prophet we will wash the earth, the forests, the mountains, the rivers and the streams with their pagan blood. Ours is a holy and righteous calling. We are doing the work of Allah”.
(Usman dan Fodio, the father of Fulanis in present day Nigeria. cited in https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/nigeria-free-nation-conquered-vassal-state/ )
(Usman dan Fodio, the father of Fulanis in present day Nigeria. cited in https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/nigeria-free-nation-conquered-vassal-state/ )
"The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the north as willing tools and the south as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future." – Sir Ahmadu Bello, leader of the North at Nigeria’s Independence. Parrot Newspaper October 12, 1960. Republished on November 13, 2002, by the tribune Newspaper, Ibadan).
The current President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is a prominent Fulani who has been described as the third Mahdi in the line of Uthman dan Fodio, and Ahmadu Bello (Ref 4). On numerous occasions he has publicly declared his total commitment to the Fulanization agenda of his predecessors and mentors. For instance, as military Head of State in 1985, he not only cast Nigeria’s vote against a Nigerian candidate, the frontrunner in the contest for the office of Secretary General of the then Organization for African Unity, he actively campaigned for the rival Fulani candidate from Niger republic, and openly celebrated his eventual victory (Ref 5). Likewise in his second-coming as President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari pointedly told a disconcerted World Bank that all development efforts meant for Nigeria should be concentrated into the Northern East section of the country (Ref 6). One of his infamous speeches declared his “total commitment to the Sharia movement” in Nigeria in the following words:
“I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria” . . . “God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country”
—Mohammadu Buhari, in 2001, quoted in “Insurgency and Buhari’s call for full Sharia” Babatunde Oyewole, https://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/12/insurgency-buharis-call-full-sharia/
After three consecutive losses at the presidential polls, Mohammadu Buhari vowed to quit partisan politics. He was however persuaded to rescind the decision by the Fulani cabal who eventually installed him (Ref 7); and now is ruthlessly directing affairs of the country - as the first lady herself complained (Ref 8). The blatant appointment of Fulani moslems to occupy every strategic sector in the nation is simply unprecedented, and is a clear indication of the pursuit of a sinister ethno-religious agenda. (Please see some catalogue by the Yoruba Council of Elders, Europe and America, addressed to the United Nations on June 1, 2019 in Ref 9).
All these are the principal drivers of the herdsmen-farmers violence which is only a contrived cover in the pursuit of the real Fulanization agenda.
Ref 1--Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region of Nigeria, 1957. http://www.femifanikayode.org/by-sir-ahmadu-bello-2/
2. What role does religion play? Is there evidence that violence is occurring for religious reasons? Is there evidence that violence is occurring for other reasons but manifesting along religious lines?
The secondary driver of the violence is the Islamic religion. Religion is being used to bait, to divide and rule, or at least blackmail various players (both co-religionists and opponents) involved in the conflict. Islam is being used to suppress a national outrage as people, groups, and organizations that ordinarily would not condone ongoing atrocities were either wary of being labeled Islamophobic -if they are Christians(see Refs 1,2); or they are reluctant to criticize fellow muslims for actions attributed (even if only cosmetically) to Islam. Others understand that a rash response to an issue overtly portrayed as religious would only play into the hand of the Fulani supremacists, and escalate issues along religious lines. Ref 3
Furthermore, many die-hard jihadists cash on the Fulanization agenda to push their own private religious goals by perpetuating secondary violence against Christians (ref 4). On the other hand, moslems who refuse to buy the religious false narrative, particularly from the southern Nigeria, are being viciously and ruthlessly persecuted. Ref 5.
In short, religion has been an effective cover to prosecute the Fulanization agenda which is the principal driver of the herdsmen-farmer violence.
Ref 1. https://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2019/05/19/boko-haram-herdsmen-fighting-to-islamise-nigeria-africa-obasanjo/
Ref 2. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/330600-boko-haram-youre-a-statesman-dont-be-a-bigot-sule-lamido-replies-obasanjo.html
3. Is there evidence of the existence of organized, coordinated movements on either side which are attacking the other religious group for religious reasons? If so, have these movements occupied any territory and who is leading them?
It is not the typical herdsmen that are involved in the attacks. By standard operation, there are protective security personnel that trail groups of herdsmen on the field. In the current situation, well-trained mobile militias are being deployed to mingle with these formal security units. Most of the atrocities that have earned the Fulani Hersdmen terror group the unenviable status of the world’s fourth most deadly terror group are actually carried out by this well-organized and well-coordinated militia.
According to first-hand reports collated by the US-based Chinua Achebe Centre for Leadership and Development (CACLD), members of the Fulani striking force at a particular location are actually assembled from several sources, including the nation’s official security forces. This explains their ability to operate sophisticated military hardware, as well as “disappear” into thin air after their dastard operations. Furthermore, there have been reports of arms being airlifted into geographical areas where herdsmen strike was imminent (Ref 1).
CACLD researchers described a typical Fulani herdsmen attack. It begins with complaints brought in from herdsmen on the field, being passed to the top Fulani bourgeois leadership (which include governors and top national security chiefs), who decides whether or not an attack should take place. If sanctioned, “modalities will be mapped out and a date will be chosen for the attack. Most times, Fulani herdsmen in the military and police are notified and everyone sends a representative. Neighbouring settlements send out representatives and arms cache are opened and arms are distributed to the participants” The Report went further on: “During an attack, every Fulani person in the area knows there will be an attack and all will contribute to make sure it goes on successfully. Fulanis in the higher levels of the military will ensure all commands under them stand down, and the top Fulani police officers will do the same. The road is then clear for the Fulani herdsmen to carry their attacks.” (ref 2)
As submitted previously, religion is only smokescreen for these attacks. Members of the hardcore Fulani militia have indeed been described as non-religious: they do not observe the regular Islamic prayers, and they subsist on alcohol and hard-drugs. Not only Christian farmers, but even Christians in their churches are the prime targets of the Fulani militia cum herdsmen. The obvious purpose of the attacks is to intimidate, terrorize, and eventually cause them to vacate their ancestral lands which are then taken over and populated with Fulanis imported from all across West Africa.
In January 2018, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, described his gory experience in the hands of Fulani herdsmen in the southern state of Ondo; and averred that their clear mission was to “to take over the land permanently” (Ref 3). In a news report in 2018, a national newspaper listed names of over 54 communities in Plateau state that have been taken over and renamed by Fulanis (Ref 4).
Ref 2. http://www.citypeopleonline.com/fulani-herdsmen-killings-modus-operandi-involved-possible-solutions-professor-charles-adisa/
Ref 3. Cattle colony, a provocative and repugnant proposal –Falae. http://punchng.com/cattle-colony-a-provocative-and-repugnant-proposal-falae/).
Ref 4. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/06/plateau-shocker-herdsmen-rename-communities-grabbed-indigenes/
4. What evidence is there that attacks by members of organized criminal or terrorist groups have been attributed to groups of either herdsmen or farmers, or that they are arming/supporting herders or farmers to commit attacks?
The herdsmen-farmer conflicts narrative provides an extremely attractive cover to prosecute the Fulanization agenda. As submitted in earlier statements above, evidences abound that organized terrorist groups are actually parading themselves as herdsmen. In 2016, the governor of Kaduna state, a prominent Fulani strategist, admitted that he paid undisclosed hefty sums of money to non-Nigerian “herdsmen” operating in Nigeria to cease their terror activities (Ref 1). Obviously these funds only went to strengthening these terror cells and procurement of more arms.
5. Are the victims of the violence disproportionately of a particular religion? If so, why? Is there any evidence that casualties from either group are significantly underreported or over-reported?
As well-clearly established, the aggressors in the “herdsmen-farmers violence” are Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Moslem. The farmers on the receiving end are predominantly Christian. Since these are deliberate organized terror strikes to displace the farmers from their ancestral land to accommodate Fulanis from “all over the world”, the victims necessarily have been disproportionately Christian.
Casualties figures are fairly accurately reported by international organizations including The Religion of Peace (https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ ), US-Nigeria Law Group (https://www.facebook.com/USNigerialaw/) , Open Doors (https://www.opendoorsusa.org/)
6. How have poor rural communities financed the acquisition of sophisticated weapons like AK-47s? Are both groups utilizing these types of weapons? If not, why?
Only one group, the Fulani herdsmen have access to sophisticated weapons. That is why the ongoing violence is more of a pogrom, with state protection.
There are simply too many corruption cases involving humongous sums, linked to key Fulani personalities reported in the open media, for one to make any attempt to list them. The impunity with which these cases are quashed by the Fulani-dominated federal government (e.g. Ref 1 for a recent case), clearly suggests that significant amount of proceeds from such deals would evidently end up as “donations” to the Fulanization agenda, thus funding the militia. Apart from such conjectures, government is known to be discussing an incredible N100 billion grant to the Organization (Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders of Nigeria) which is the de facto official spokesmen for the herdsmen. As mentioned in question 4 above, the Governor of Kaduna state admitted he paid undisclosed sums to non-Nigerian herdsmen to placate them and get them reduce their activities. These funds are obviously used to procure more sophisticated arms.
It has been observed that the cost of the weapons carried by the herdsmen security units far exceed the economic value of the cattle investment they are purportedly protecting.
Ref 1: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/333905-efcc-withdraws-from-gojes-corruption-trial.html
7. What evidence is there of collusion between Government armed forces and either group?
First, there is no known single arrest or prosecution of the militiamen in the years they have been operating. On the other hand, those who organize defences against the militia herdsmen are swiftly and efficiently arrested, and where truly culpable, prosecuted with uncustomary alacrity. For example, three herdsmen were attacked, and one of them killed at Kadamun village in Adamawa state on June 1, 2017. Barely 12 months later (June 11, 2018), 5 locals had been arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced to death for the killing (Ref 1). This is a chilling confirmation of the warning by Kaduna State governor that “Anyone, soldier or not, that kills the Fulani” under any circumstances whatsoever has procured a “loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes” (Ref 2)
On March 24, 2018, highly-respected General Theophilus Danjuma (retired), in an extempore speech at a University function in Taraba state counselled the various ethnic groups in Nigeria to resort to self-defence as the nation’s security forces have been compromised, and are definitely colluding with Fulani herdsmen.(Ref 3). Nobody could doubt that the former Minister of Defence had incontrovertible evidences at his disposal before making such weighty statement. At the subsequent Probe panel set up by the military to investigate General Danjuma’s allegation, the chairman of Taraba State Council of Chiefs and Aku Uka of Wukari, Dr. Shekarau Angyu Masa Ibi, proceeded to list several cases buttressing the claim of collusion between the Nigerian military and the killer herdsmen (Ref 4).
Please see also the response to Question 3 above, describing direct involvement of members of government security forces in either participating in militia operations; or units of government forces getting out of way precisely when the militia are about to strike.
Ref. 1. https://www.pulse.ng/news/local/in-adamawa-court-sentences-5-men-to-death-for-killing-herdsman/39nl67j
8. What actions or initiatives have been taken by the Nigerian Federal or State Governments, or civil society, to prevent further conflict? Have any of these actions been successful? Have any of these actions negatively impacted the violence?
Some states, particularly those not controlled by the political party at the national level, have promulgated laws banning open-cattle grazing. These include Ekiti and Benue states. These measures have produced very positive outcomes. Even though the law at Benue state was violently resisted by the herdsmen association as well as the nation’s minister of defence (Ref 1), the Benue people have stoutly defended the law. In Osun State, which is governed by the same political party as the federal government, a Committee to which local farmers report invasion of farms by cattle seems to be able to douse tension to a large extent, though its activities and modus operandi are not given much publicity. Kaduna state, also controlled by the government at the centre has recently passed a hotly-contested law regulating formal religious activities as a means of addressing the conflicts.
On its part, the federal government has kept referring to the violence as “community clashes” and advising the victims to go learn to live with their “neighbours” - even when these so-called neighbours are declared to be non-Nigerians! (Ref 2) The federal government’s position is that government-built Cattle Colony and grazing routes must be provided all over the nation to accommodate traditional open-grazing;(Ref 3) and more lately, that a radio station transmitting solely in the Fulfude language of the Fulanis should be operated by the federal government to ramp up appeal to them to desist from criminal actions! (Ref 4). These measures are understandably not well-received by the non-Fulani nationalities in the country, and they appear to be further clear confirmations of the Fulanization agenda.
In the meantime, several civil and cultural societies are warning state governments not to give land for any cattle colony in their “ancestral land”. Many local militias are threatening to mobilize not only against the Fulani herdsmen, but also against any state government that collaborates with them in this regard. (Refs 5-7)
Ref 2. https://www.sunnewsonline.com/exercise-restraint-learn-to-live-in-peace-buhari-urges-benue-people/
Ref 5. Yoruba leaders reject cattle colonies, back ranching. http://punchng.com/yoruba-leaders-reject-cattle-colonies-back-ranching/
9. What tangible, practical steps can be taken in the short and long run by the Nigerian and UK Governments, as well as the wider international community, to prevent further conflict?
The UK government with its vast intelligence facility, is obviously well-informed about all these incidents and their drivers. The UK government could significantly contribute to resolving the crisis if it could be bold enough to discount short-term economic benefits from the current Fulani leadership in Nigeria and tell them the home truth, about the futility of their pipe-dream of subduing other ethnic nationalities in modern Nigeria. The Fulani leadership may thus rethink their policy and perhaps look for more viable and peaceful alternatives to protect their strategic interests in a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
This would be akin to the Trump approach to the long-standing Middle-East conflict, which is apparently producing some positive results.
More tangibly, the UK government could make it very clear to the Nigerian government that ongoing systematic killings are indeed grievous, and are totally unacceptable to important international partners such as the UK. Key individual actors implicated should be appropriately threatened with sanctions including visa ban and freezing of bank accounts – measures that have proved effective in the past.
Other ideas that would obviously positively impact the situation, even if clearly unattractive to the federal government currently in office, include the establishment of State police, promotion of private-funded cattle ranches by those who have commercial interests in the business; removal of Sharia from the nation’s constitution; and issuance of ID cards to clearly distinguish between Nigerians and the “Fulanis of the world”
10. Has the spread of fake news and misinformation impacted the conflict? What tangible, practical steps can be taken to address this issue?
Fake news and misinformation have not significantly impacted the situation. Usually the situations have been too grievous to be further exaggerated by fake news. Fake news have been used both by Fulani agents, especially to test the waters ahead of policies; and also by the opponents, trying to provoke mass reactions against government. Traditional media tend to deliberately play safe by whittling down casualty figures. Overall, in my opinion, the impact of fake news has been minimal on the humongous problem at hand.
11. Do the religious communities in Nigeria view the conflict as being primarily religiously motivated? If so, what impact does this perception have on tensions between these communities? What steps can be taken to improve relations between communities?
Religious communities realize that the conflict is NOT primarily religiously motivated. However they are acutely aware of the intense efforts to bring in religion as a major factor.
This reality makes religious communities that perceive the crisis as opportunity to push their religion (mostly, Moslems) to embrace the campaign. Christians on the other hand understand the potential negative impact. This has inevitably led to tension and distrust.
For instance, the new law passed by the Kaduna State legislature regulating the practice of religions as a mean of dousing herdsmen-farmers clash was heartily endorsed by several prominent Islamic groups, while Christians have largely rejected it and have taken the matter to court (Ref 1).
Prominent and respected Christian groups and denominations have repeatedly issued statements describing the herdsmen-farmer conflict as religion-related . The Nigeria Christian Elders Forum has indeed made a submission to the UK-All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief in the ongoing exercise.
It is difficult prescribing a uniform set of solution for the herdsmen-farmer conflict all over Nigeria, as the expressions often vary from one community to another. In all cases, it is instructive to note that it is the same Fulani herdsmen slugging it out with the other different ethnic nationalities all over the country.