After destroying ripe crops, Islamists belonging to the Fulani ethnic group stormed four villages in the Southern Kaduna state of Nigeria, killing 22 people and incinerating 134 houses, a report published in The Epoch Times said.
Kaduna state police believe the violence is a spillover effect of the turmoil that has convulsed the neighbouring Bassa LGA (Local Government Area) of Plateau State. Kaduna shares its border with Plateau State to its east.
Kyle Abts, one of the co-founders of the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) said there is a pattern to the violence that has been unleashed in the region. Abts added that the target of the Fulani terror groups are not random and the targets are not new.
“Each village has been attacked in recent weeks, months and years. The security forces and government have to know that this is a systematic onslaught by these marauders who are endeavouring to destroy not only homes, communities and farmlands, but most importantly lives,” The Epoch Times quoted Abts as saying.
At the heart of the violence that has gripped Southern Nigeria is the religious persecution of the Christian population by the Muslim radicals of the Fulani ethnic tribe. Christian farmers are routinely attacked and killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen as a battle for scarce resources stirs long-held tensions over religion and ethnicity.
Across the length and breadth of the region, the Fulani fanatics have been hunting down Christian farmers, attacking them, destroying their produce and setting their houses on fire. Entire Christian villages have been burnt to ashes, just because the inhabitants of those villages professed a different religion or refused to abandon their faith. According to a report published in June 2020, Nigeria lost 6,500 citizens and 62,000 others were displaced from their homelands in 850 recorded violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt region of the country between 2010 and 2015. However, records show vastly underreported deaths from the conflict.
The survivors of the Fulani Group’s onslaught, however, lament that the international media and western countries have played down the conflict merely as a fight between farmers and herdsmen, brushing under the carpet the fact that religion is one of the important factors contributing to the violence.
International media turns a blind eye to religious persecution of Christians in Nigeria
After the massacre of 22 people in Kaduna, the President of Southern Kaduna People’s Union(SOKAPU), Jonathan Asake said that his organisation has continuously insisted that there is an ongoing genocide in Southern Kaduna targeted at the indigenous Christian population and the aim is to force or intimidate them to renounce their faith or leave their ancestral lands for the armed herdsmen.
Asake also accused the Kaduna State government and the federal government of Nigeria of condoning the ongoing genocide of minority Christians in the region.
“Some of the attacked villages, like Kigam and Unguwan Magaji have been attacked at least three times in the past six years, with mass graves where scores were buried standing as a testimony of what we are saying,” said Asake. “Not a single church or school is left standing. Not a single herdsman has been apprehended all these years.”
“It is unfortunate that while Kaduna State government and the Federal Government is playing blind to it, the larger world, especially the western media do not believe that our lives are worth any news,” he bemoaned.
The conflict between herders and farmers over natural resources has a long history throughout Nigeria. It is particularly stark in the Southern region. In Plateau, one of the most ethnically diverse states in Nigeria, disputes between indigenous and settler groups over resources has now devolved into religious persecution, with Muslim Fulani groups attacking and killing their Christian counterparts with abandon.