‘Both Soldiers and Civilians Running from Attacks’
Jos—With numbing frequency, the murders in the night keep coming to starving farmers in Benue State, the breadbasket of Nigeria, TruthNigeria has learned. This is due to the ongoing attacks by Islamic extremists sneaking into the country through poorly guarded borders, according to lawmakers.
“Even the federal government has admitted that these are foreign terrorists from Niger republic, Libya and other places but nothing is being done about it,” according to Simon Mwadkwon, a member of the Nigerian Senate.
“Their mission is simply to kill and takeover communities,” said Mwadkwon to TruthNigeria. “They come from faraway places, including foreign countries, and all they want is to turn the villages to be their own,” Mwadkwon said in a telephone interview. “Over 50 villages have been captured so far in one local government area [county] alone in my constituency,” said Mwadkwon, who represents a district in nearby Plateau State at the Nigerian Senate. The attacks in Nigeria’s middle belt region are motivated by land-grab and ethnic displacements,” Mwadkwon said.
Mark Gbillah, a long-serving member in the House of Representatives representing a Benue constituency told TruthNigeria the Muslim authorities in Nigeria were refusing to deploy military actions against the terrorists because they fit into their agenda to impose an Islamic regime across the country.
“They are seeking to replicate what they have started in places like Kaduna all over the country – setting up their own governments across communities towards converting Nigeria into an Islamic State,” he said.
Mothers Block Highway to Raise the Alarm
The latest attack on August 14 in Gban landed three days after Ms. Jennifer Aondohemba Godwin, a widow and mother, whose husband recently fell victim to the terrorists, led a mass women’s protest to demand an end to the attacks. Godwin said the mothers have been ignored both by the civil and military authorities in the State. The 8-hour protest on August 11 was sparked by the murder of five residents in the same village of Gban and in nearby Hinyan village the previous night, Godwin told TruthNigeria.
One person was killed close to the protest venue, just two hours after the police and community officials assured the demonstrators they would track the criminals and jail them, Godwin said.
“I don’t feel safe here anymore,” said Godwin. “Even soldiers are fleeing from the attacks,” said Godwin in a telephone interview. “Some of us were still around the protest venue around 2 pm [Nigerian time] when they started shooting, and both the soldiers and civilians were running,” she said.
“We have soldiers all over the villages, but attacks still happen, and nothing is done about it. That was why we decided to carry the corpses of those our people that were killed and laid them on the highway to say, ‘enough is enough!’ Our farms have been taken over. Our homes are no longer safe. We can’t even walk to the next village without the fear of being attacked. But despite all of our cries, the attacks have not stopped,” she said.
Hundreds of heartbroken women and children flooded a highway 15 miles northeast of Makurdi, the State capital, from as early as 5:30 am local time on Friday, August 11 to protest the killings, according to media reports. The wailing women sang gospel songs as they waved tree branches in the center of the road, holding up vehicular traffic for several hours.
Yet, three days later, on August 14, five people were killed in Godwin’s village of Gban, just one mile from Ortese, where Godwin and her three children have been taking shelter since terrorists killed her husband in January. They are among a few hundred IDPs left behind at a camp for internally displaced people in the center of five villages on the west of the Guma County, which surrounds Makurdi. The IDP camp previously cared for more than 10,000 people, according to David Tarbo, a local town leader.
Millions Suffer in Internally Displaced Persons Camps
In recent weeks, numerous IDPs have fled to safer zones due to the attacks that have killed more than 590 Christians this year, according to the international monitoring group, Intersociety. Governor Hyacinth Alia recently told a United Nations delegation there are more than 2.2 million IDPs across the state.
Christopher Waku, the security advisor to the Guma County Chairman, Mike Nyieakaa, told TruthNigeria the protest was a result of prolonged anger and grief that have engulfed the defenseless residents following armed attacks that have become a daily occurrence.
“Even as we speak, we don’t know what will happen in the next few hours,” said Waku on August 16. “Every day there must be one incident or the other,” Waku said in a telephone interview. “It is either they are destroying crop farms, or they are setting ambushes for people,” Waku stated, noting the groups responsible for the attacks are militants from identifying as members of the Fulani ethnicity. Clashes between the Fulani herders and local indigenous farmers have been registered for 30 years, yet in the last 8 years the number of village takeovers has soared, according to MinorityRights.org. https://minorityrights.org/minorities/tiv/
The Fulani, a large ethnic group in West Africa is estimated to have more than 10 million members in Nigeria. The majority-Muslim tribe is known for herding cattle in open grass fields. During this activity, the herders occasionally clash with landowners who are chiefly farmers. This could sometimes lead to severe injuries and even death. But the vast majority of attacks credited to Fulani militants in Nigeria’s middle belt region have been unprovoked, often occurring in the night when residents are asleep in their homes, TruthNigeria investigations has learned. Thousands of residents, including babies, have fallen victim, with more than 60,000 killed in recent years according to various monitoring groups.
“We don’t know where they come from and we don’t know what they want but all we know is that they are killing our people and taking over our villages,” Waku said.
On 11 April 2018, former President Muhammadu Buhari told the Archbishop of Canterbury in London, Justin Welby former fighters of the slain Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi were responsible for the attacks in central Nigeria.
“The problem is even older than us,” said Buhari during a meeting with Archbishop Welby in London. “It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region,” Buhari said. The controversial leader of Nigeria for 8 years did nothing to stop illegal migrations and the resulting attacks on Christian villages, according to Stephen Enada, the founder of the International Committee on Nigeria.
Masara Kim is an award-winning conflict reporter in Plateau State, Nigeria and senior editor of TruthNigeria.com.