Jubilee Campaign Says Fulani Militants’ Massacres of Christians in Nigeria Meets the Standard for Genocide

Panelists participate in a panel discussion about the ongoing human rights abuses committed in Nigeria by Fulani militants against Christian farming communities in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2019. From left to right: Faith McDonnell from the Institute on Religion & Democracy, Nigerian Christian Toynin Shonowo, Nigerian Pastor Yakubu Bakfwash and Ann Buwalda from the Jubilee Campaign. | Jubilee Campaign/Jenitza Castro.

An international human rights NGO has submitted research and data to the International Criminal Court contending that the standard for genocide has now been reached when it comes to the massacres of Christian farming communities in Nigeria by Fulani militants. 

The Jubilee Campaign, which advocates on behalf of religious minorities across the globe and successfully petitioned the ICC to indict Boko Haram for their killings across northeastern Nigeria, submitted its new report “Nigeria: The Genocide is Loading” to the ICC’s investigative offices in Hague last week.

The report documents the increasing scale and severity of Fulani militant attacks against predominantly Christian farming communities in Nigeria and chronicles at least 52 Fulani militant attacks between the start of 2019 and June 12.

“Nearly every single day, I wake up with text messages from partners in Nigeria, such as this morning: ‘Herdsmen stab 49-year-old farmer to death in Ogan,’” human rights lawyer and Jubilee Campaign Director Ann Buwalda said during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C, this month.

“Frankly, I don’t know where Ogan is. I don’t know this 49-year-old farmer. But when I wake up and read that, ‘I weep.’ It’s the conscience of all of us around the world that need to weep when we read that. If you get that every single day and that’s how you wake up, you realize that it is up to us to do something.”

While the Nigerian government and others have written off the Fulani militant attacks as merely part of a decades-old “farmer-herder clashes” between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt, the Jubilee Campaign report pushes back on that notion.

The report states that Fulani extremist attacks are not only happening with greater regularity and severity but also appear to be premeditated, target civilians, and focused on Christian-populated villages as well as churches.

Many Christian communities across the Middle Belt, including entire tribes, have been displaced from their homes due to the attacks.

“Why are there 180,000 [internally displaced persons] in Benue state? Why are there nearly 1 million IDPs from the northeast of Nigeria?” Buwalda asked. “It isn’t only Boko Haram. It is also Fulani herdsmen and militants that are behind these attacks.”

Citing data compiled by World Watch Monitor, the report asserts that about 4,194 Christians were killed and 2,957 were injured in Nigeria between 2014 and 2016 with 30 churches and over 195,576 Christian homes damaged.

“In 2018, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project reported how Fulani militants constituted the deadliest threat to civilians in Nigeria, killing over 1,000 civilians in 2018, surpassing Boko Haram Terrorist Group in casualties,” the report reads. “Now in 2019 alone, Fulani militants have attacked 20 villages. Their target is Christian-majority villages where they kill civilians, burn their homes, leaving the community fear-stricken and forcing many to abandon their homes.”

The Nigerian-based civil society group International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law has reported that no less than 2,400 Christians were killed by Fulani militants in 2018.

The Jubilee Campaign and ADF International raised concern to the ICC about the situation in Nigeria in 2016. The report detests the fact that the Fulani militant attacks are being described as “clashes” and a “farmer-herder” conflict. The Jubilee Campaign reports that such terms are “similar to the words used to describe the atrocities that were later revealed in Darfur, Sudan.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith