EU demands halt to the killings by Fulani herdsmen
A resolution by the European Parliament last week called on the federal government to end the incessant killings by Islamist Fulani Herdsmen of predominantly Christian farming communities in the middle belt of Nigeria.
The European Union (EU) in its resolution on Nigeria on 17 January 2018, states that Nigeria is “home to Africa’s largest Christian population” and that “an estimated 30 million Christians live in northern Nigeria, forming the largest religious minority in the predominantly Muslim region.”
The EU expressed its sadness that “the country’s Middle Belt has suffered years of economic and political tension between ethnic and religious communities, with the recent violence fuelled by competition for power and access to land between pastoralist and farming communities.”
The middle belt region and the northern country “have been threatened by the continuing attacks, murders and kidnappings perpetrated by the Islamist group Boko Haram since 2009.”
The EU resolution noted that over 20 000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced since Boko Haram began its attacks. The resolution also refers to the kidnapping of 276 girls from their school in Chibok in April 2014.
“Women and girls have been enslaved, raped, radicalised and forced into ‘marriages’ by Boko Haram; whereas many survivors of these horrific experiences are now pregnant by their rapists,” states the resolution. Many kidnappings of clergy and nuns have also taken place, notes the EU, including six Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Convent who were abducted in Iguoriakhi on 13 November 2017, and were recently released.
The EU declared: “Pastoralist-farmer conflicts in Nigeria have increased in number, spread and intensified over the past decade and today pose a threat to national survival; whereas thousands of people have been killed, communities destroyed and a huge number of farmers and pastoralists have lost their lives and property in an escalation of killings and destruction that is not only destroying livelihoods but also affecting national cohesion.”
The EU resolution said, “the International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute have been committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram, including murder and persecution.”
The resolution “strongly condemns the increase in violence against Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, including the targeting of religious institutions and worshippers, such as the recent killing of at least 48 Christians in villages across Plateau State and the bombing of a mosque in Mubi, northeast Nigeria, in which at least 50 people died.”
The European Parliament called on President Buhari’s government to increase efforts to bring the violence to an end, defend the right to worship freely, and protect the rights of all citizens according to the country’s constitution.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos