03/04/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Boko Haram and Fulani militants continued their brutal campaign of violence throughout Nigeria in February. The uptrend in attacks by Fulani militants has persisted throughout 2018 and 2019, with the heaviest attacks taking place in Plateau and Benue States. This undeclared war has turned Muslims and Christians against each other in a confrontation that threatens the stability of Nigeria. In February, ICC documented at least 60 attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani militants that killed a total of 205 people in the Middle Belt and Northern Nigeria. Of these, Boko Haram was responsible for 126 deaths, 83 of which were civilians (mostly in Borno State). Fulani militants were also responsible for at least 79 deaths.
Persistent ethnic tension, religious differences, and a lack of economic resources inflict suffering in Christian areas as Fulani militants attack defenseless farmers, impoverishing many. Human Rights Watch reported, “Increased frequency of violent conflict has been linked to intense pressures on land because of expansion of commercially cultivated areas, corporate mining activities, and competitive overuse of common resources, such as forests, pastoral rangelands, and water sources, exacerbated by climate change.” As Nigeria’s farmer-herder conflict continues to unleash bloodshed, the humanitarian crisis continues to worsens in the state.
Despite these violent attacks, there have been no major attempts by the Nigerian government to hold the Fulani accountable or disarm them. The recent re-election of President Buhari ensures that the government will remain dormant as the perpetrators continue to inflict suffering in Nigeria. Although Buhari assured Nigerians that Boko Haram would be a “thing of the past” if he were re-elected, there is little confidence that militant groups will be defeated in 2019. The Middle Belt should remain a cause of great concern for all those interested in Nigeria’s growth and stability.
Below are the largest attacks that took place in February:
- February 10, 2019: Fulani militants attacked Adara Christian community, killing 11
- February 18, 2019: Boko Haram beheads merchants, killing 18
- February 20, 2019: Fulani militants attack Benue State, killing 16
According to Global Terrorism Index’s 2018 ranking, Nigeria remains the third “Most Terrorized Country” for the fourth consecutive year. This trend continues to worsen as militants are able to operate freely. Boko Haram and Fulani militants’ brutal campaigns have claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions more in recent years. The Nigerian government and the rest of the world must remember to pray for those affected by the deadly violence taking place in the Middle Belt.