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JOS, Nigeria: Anglican Archbishop urges Government to defend Christians against Fulani terror

JOS, Nigeria: Anglican Archbishop urges Government to defend Christians against Fulani terror

by Hassan John
Global Christian News
28th March 2017

Many churches in Jagindi, Southern Kaduna, were too fearful to celebrate Mothering Sunday (26 March 2017) because of Fulani attacks following a spate of killings throughout the region.

In the village of Aso eye witness reports claimed that Islamist Fulani herdsmen killed a farmer who noticed the raiding of farms in the community. Witnesses said the farmer confronted some herdsmen at his farm and they killed him. Youths in Aso clashed with the Fulanis and three people were killed, including a security official.

In February and March, Fulani Islamic Herdsmen attacked at least three communities in Benue State.

While the Boko Haram insurrgency still dominates the northeast, Fulani cattle herdsmen are still devastating Christian communities in Southern Kaduna and parts of Plateau State, in central regions of Nigeria, taking over farmlands and displacing thousands of people from communities.

"The Nigerian government is yet to effectively address the menace of the Fulani terror group," the Venerable Dauda Yakubu, a resident in Gidan Waya, said.

According to Global Terrorism Index, the Fulani Herdsmen are the world's fourth deadliest militant group, yet they have not been designated a terrorist group even after killing thousands of people and sacking dozens of communities in central Nigeria.

The Anglican Archbishop of Jos Province, Benjamin Kwashi, whose province covers the entire region affected by the Fulani killings said that the failure of governments to pay serious attention to crisis is because "both the Nigerian government and the world did not admit in the early stages that it was an act of terror they continue to call it 'herdsmen framer clashes. Inter-tribal clashes, ethnic crises."

The Bishop added that, "when you look at the tilt of justice, you cannot call it a clash. And one of the things that pains those of us who are the recipients of this evil, is that the western media still calls it clash... people were sleeping and 500 hundred people were slaughtered, where is the clash? Because in not naming it correctly it is helping the crime to continue."

The Provincial Missions Coordinator in the Northeast, Venerable Mark Mukan still wonders "what criteria is used in designating groups terrorists and the Islamic Fulani herdsmen could not be curbed by the Nigerian army, as they have engaged Boko Haram and even declared victory over insurgency, after these colossal destructions of lives and property." There is a specialized interest by the Nigerian government on the cattle Herdsman "simply because they are running the agenda of powerful Islamic segments of the Nigerian government," according to a public analyst who told Global Christian News that he did not want to be named.

Archbishop Kwashi added, "because of government's refusal or inability or unwillingness to deal with foreign fighters, as the case has proved, it would therefore seem that there is some interest in land grabbing. But even worst is the fact that these terrorists, these herdsmen terrorists call the name of Allah and a governor in Nigeria will go to pay them and knows them and refuses to deal with those issues and bring settlement and justice to people of host communities," he said.

The Archbishop said the protection of the Fulani attackers demonstrates a clear religious connection. He argued: "If you look at the trend of the killings, right down to Enugu, (in the south-eastern part of Nigeria) churches would be destroyed, homes of Christians would be destroyed, but no mosque is touched, no Fulani settlement is touched, no Muslims are touched."

Criticizing the government's failure to recognize the scale of the crisis, Archbishop Kwashi said: "You notice that the herdsmen killers have not been arrested. The ones who killed in Plateau state have not been arrested."

In contrast, he pointed out that local people who have defended themselves against Fulani attacks have been arrested.

The Archbishop said this raises a fresh issue when it comes to religion. "Are the Christians who are largely in these areas under persecution? The answer is simply yes."

He explained, "From what I know about terrorism it has found its way into peaceful communities targeting only Christians and churches." He said that attempts by authorities to deny the truth was a dereliction of duty by the government.

The Archbishop gave a warning to the Nigerian government: "If the federal government of Nigeria does not act quickly, the local people, the ordinary people will lose confidence in governance and no nation survives when the people no longer have confidence in governance. Because obviously what is happening in some parts of Nigeria then will happen everywhere and that will not be a good thing for anybody."

He warned: "People will have to defend themselves, people will have to raise their own security, people will just do things their own way."

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