By Adedayo Akinwale
With more than 2,539 people killed, 393 wounded, 253 kidnapped, 16 raped, more than 7, 582 houses burnt and 24 churches destroyed in 654 attacks carried out within three years, Fulani Militias has become Nigerian’s most lethal group, a new report has shown.
The report titled, “Fulani Militias Terror: Compilation of News (2017-2020), was carried out by Dr. José Luis Bazán, an Independent Researcher and Analyst in Brussels, Belgium.
The report said Nigerians were suffering widespread and systematic terrorist attacks by, mainly, Boko Haram, the ISIL-aligned Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), Fulani militias and Ansaru .
The report said the Global Terrorist Index 2019 published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, indicated that the primary driver of the increase in terrorism in the Sub-Saharan Africa was a rise in terrorist activity in Nigeria attributed, not to Boko Haram, ISWAP or Ansaru, but to Fulani extremists.
The report added: “In 2018, Fulani extremists were responsible for the majority of terror-related deaths in Nigeria (1,158 fatalities), with an increase by 261 and 308 per cent respectively from the prior year.
“Most of Fulani attacks were armed assaults (200 out of 297 attacks) against civilians (84 per cent of the attacks). Bandits and criminal gangs’ attacks are also part of the unfortunate reality that Nigerians have to face in their lives.”
The report indicated that the research was carried out mainly on the attacks in Nigeria attributed to “presumably” Fulani by mass media, NGOs and, in few cases, private sources.
The report stressed that listed attacks were sorted by date of the attack –or if not possible to date it precisely, date of the report; from 2017 until 7th May 2020.
It said some of the news compiled refer to certain statements, reactions or events which are connected to the Fulani attacks, that may be useful to understand better the complex situation.
The report revealed that it was difficult to know the exact number of victims of the attacks since the news usually, in particular when the attacks are massive, mentions a minimum number at least, or even refers qualitatively to them as “many” or “a large number”.
The report said this was particularly clear when it comes to the destruction of property and especially when the houses of the victims are destroyed, as well as the number of displaced persons caused by the attacks, which are counted by dozens of thousands.
The report added, “Most of the victims are farmers – predominantly, Christians, but Fulani (predominantly, Muslim) have also attacked policemen, soldiers, etc. In some cases, media identify the religious denomination of the victims (for example, when the attacks took place during or after religious ceremonies), in particular Christian media, that have a better knowledge about the affiliation of their own faithful.”
The report said two further difficulties to have more information on the attacks are, in one hand, the fact that the attacks often occur in rural areas, where there is no information structure to cover them in detail; and, on the other hand, the passive attitude by public authorities, including police, that do not provide complete, transparent and reliable information on them. It added that in the news, media reports make evident this attitude, and when there are official statements of the attacks, they tend to limit their intensity and the number of victims, in contrast to the allegations by witnesses or even victims of the attacks.
The report noted that the present list includes only the attacks attributed to Fulani, without further double check, which was in process with some experts in the country, adding that this does not mean that the sources are not reliable, as most of them are produced by professional mass media and experts.
It said at the same time, large part of these attacks had been reported by more than one source, among the 45 sources used for this research, that are quoted at the end of the list.
The breakdown of the attacks carried out by Fulani militias between 2017 and 2020 revealed that in “2017 99 attacks took place, 202 people killed, more than 33 wounded, 12 kidnapped, four raped and 6,500 houses burnt.
“In 2018; 245 attacks took place, 1,478 killed, 230 wounded, 29 kidnaped, seven raped, 300 houses burnt.
“In 2019; 169 attacks took place, 524 killed, 84 wounded, 75 kidnapped, 606 houses burnt.
“In 2020 (January-May), 141 attacks took place, 335 killed, 137 kidnapped, two raped, 176 houses burnt.”
“In the period researched, 654 attacks took place, with more than 2,539 people killed, 393 wounded, 253 kidnapped, 16 raped, more than 7.582 homes and 24 churches destroyed.”