By Masara Kim
(Jos) Amid a persisting silence by U.S. and Nigerian authorities, Israeli’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan on January 13 paused discussions on the catastrophic destructions caused by Hamas terrorists in Israel to draw the attention of the UN Security Council to ongoing Christian massacres in Nigeria.
The U.S. has been on the U.N.’s side of advocating for a ceasefire by Israel in Gaza following Palestinian attacks that killed over 1400 Israeli civilians last October.
“On Christmas, 200 Nigerian Christians were murdered by Muslims,” said Erdan at the council’s meeting in New York.
“Over the past decade, 50,000 Christians in Nigeria have been butchered and hacked to death,” Erdan said. “Is this even a concern to the council?”, questioned Erdan, berating the council’s focus on Gaza, neglecting widespread human rights violations around the world.
“As we speak, there are over 1 million Muslims being forcibly removed from their homes. I’m not talking about the situation in Gaza but about Pakistan’s forced displacements of 1.3million afghans. This council convened 21 times to assist the people of Gaza at the account of Israel defending itself against Hamas terrorists,” he noted.
“But not even once to focus on defending the rights of Afghans in Pakistan. Why does the forced displacement of Muslims from a Muslim country means nothing to the Algerian representative in the council? I’ll tell you why. No Jews, no news. But this is merely one example,” Erdan said.
His intervention is the latest by a handful of world leaders worried by the targeted killings in Nigeria that have forced more than 100,000 Christians in Plateau State out of their homes in recent months.
Among them is 3-year-old Purity Panmun Danat, whose entire family was wiped out in one of the latest attacks cited by the Israeli ambassador.
During the late night attack on December 23 in the village of Kampar Pelli, situated in the farming district of Ruwi, in the Bokkos county, Purity lost her father, mother, and four siblings, TruthNigeria has gathered.
They were the first victims of the ‘black Christmas’ according to local officials which also saw Purity’s uncle and his entire family killed.
During the attacks which lasted through to Christmas Day and the days following, witnesses report that swarms of “Allahuakbar” [God is great]-shouting terrorists speaking the Fulani dialect went from village to village slaughtering residents and setting fire to houses.
The Fulani, a dominant tribe in West and Central Africa boasting at least 20 million members, is renowned for its nomadic cattle herding. In recent years, the majority Muslim ethnic group has gained widespread recognition as the most politically influential tribe in Nigeria. Militants identifying as Fulani members have been implicated in widespread attacks, resulting in an estimated 50,000 Christian deaths in the country since 2009, as reported by Intersociety—an international monitoring group tracking genocide in Nigeria.
In 2023, Fulani militants were responsible for at least 3,500 Christian deaths, according to Intersociety. The first half of the year witnessed more than 500 victims of Fulani attacks in Plateau State alone. These numbers have significantly increased since then.
In April 2023, Intersociety documented more than 350 Christian murders in Plateau State. By then end of June, more than 600 additional Christian deaths were recorded in the state according to Governor Caleb Mutfwang.
Scores of civilian volunteers fighting with homemade single shot guns attempted to confront the assailants but were only effective in delaying them to enable women, children and the elderly to escape.
General Abubakar told mourners during the mass burial of 20 victims in Maiyanga, one of the attacked villages on the west of the Bokkos county on December 26 that his men were taken unawares and overwhelmed.
But TruthNigeria has since November 3, variously published advance warnings of impending attacks in Plateau State during Christmas.
As of January 15, the death toll from the ongoing attacks in at least 36 villages stands at 295 according to monitoring groups.
At least 10,000 displaced residents are trapped in 13 makeshift camps within Bokkos County and unable to return to their homes. An additional 9,000 are staying with relatives in nearby towns and villages, with several others still missing, as reported by Bishop Ayuba Matawal, overseeing the camps.
A few of them who have attempted to return to their homes have been attacked by the terrorists who still control the areas according to town leaders. In the latest instance, even as the Israeli ambassador was making a case for an end to the attacks, Fulani militants sheared down a large vegetable farm in the outskirts of Maikatako, north of Bokkos, on January 13. Mr. Yohanna Dalok, a local youth leader told TruthNigeria the farm — measuring more than five acres — was despoiled using cutlasses by the terrorists who retreated after sighting civilian volunteer guards.
Exactly a week earlier, a young man identified as Ishaku Maram was attacked three miles away in Daress, TruthNigeria has learned. Terrorists attacking with machetes cut off Maram’s hand and left him for dead in his farm where he went to harvest some potatoes to feed his starving family in an IDP camp.
Fulani leaders have claimed that they were the actual victims of the widely reported Christmas Eve attacks, forcing Christian leaders to react.
In one of a series of press statements, a so-called coalition of Fulani groups in Plateau State claimed that more than 350 of their members were killed in mass attacks since last April, with more than 23,000 others displaced.
TruthNigeria has found no documentation of Christian militias as charged in these claims.
Christian town leaders have described the “concocted, illogical and fictitious” claims of the Fulani leaders as ‘well-crafted’ propaganda intended to “cover, confuse, misdirect and downplay the heinous crimes” committed by their members.
“It is very ironical for the victims of Fulani aggression and agenda to be portrayed as the aggressors in their own traditional homesteads and farmlands,” said a coalition of tribal groups in Plateau State in a joint press conference on January 11.
“It’s a notorious fact that Fulani militants have been launching attacks and raiding Hamlets and Villages, committing all sorts of human rights abuses with the hope of displacing the natives, grabbing their lands and taking over the economic activities of those areas,” said the groups led by Barrister Solomon Dalyop, the President of Berom Youth Movement (BYM).
“It’s mind-blowing and, indeed, mischievous to brandish statistics with little or no substantiation or evidence,” Dalyop stated.
“It should, however, be understood that the aim of their Press Release was to fuel their propaganda machine, and to probably diffuse attention from the victims of their terror in Barkin Ladi, Bokkos and Mangu Local Government Areas [equivalence of a county],” stated Dalyop.
“Knowing the killer Fulani herdsmen for who they are, who will imagine that over 350 Fulani are killed, and thousands of their cattle rustled with over 115 in one day all rustled or killed, and unbelievably wait until January 7th for a so-call Coalition to make a Press Release on their behalf?” Dalyop queried.
“Who on Earth will ever believe this? Is this not a diversionary tactic from the alarming Christmas-Eve killings and plunder that claimed 257 aside the over 100 injured, talk less of over 19,000 displaced and valuables worth Millions of Naira destroyed?” He asked.
“It’s undisputed that the Fulani lack customary rights and authority over lands and territories in all our villages and Communities except those acquired through purchase, gifts and goodwill. Little wonder, therefore, that Fulani militants have chosen terror as a means of conquest land acquisitions in this 21st Century, where constitutionalism, civilization and civility is the hallmark of modern society,” he said, pointing out that over 102 villages in Plateau State have been captured by Fulani militants in the last decade.
Kyle Abts, the Chief Executive of International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) has equally blamed the Nigerian authorities for turning a blind eye to years of Fulani massacres. “The concerns and issues in Nigeria are complex and simple at the same time,” wrote Abts in a text message to TruthNigeria.
“Simple, in the fact, that actors and victims are usually clear and understood,” Abts wrote. “Complex, in that actors are rarely apprehended or prosecuted,” he wrote.
“Maj. Gen Abubakar [Abdulsalam][the commander for the special task force in Plateau state] clearly stated that the Army was “overwhelmed by over 36 coordinated attacks” occurring at same time,” he noted.
“As in other Fulani militant attacks, their sophisticated weapons, and the element of surprise was compounded by the ineptitude of Nigerian security forces,” he continued.
“Yet, you can’t ignore the facts:
– 36 coordinated and simultaneous attacks would amass over 3,600 Fulani militants, as villagers have said there were 100s of attackers. Attacks on villages lasted from 2-6 hours and calls were made immediately to security forces. What attacks do Fulani leaders believe provoked or were cause for reprisal?” Queried Abts.
Masara Kim is an award-winning conflict reporter in Jos and the senior editor of TruthNigeria.com.