Nigerian Christians ‘disappointed’ at cancellation of Prince Charles’ visit
Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess Camilla of Cornwall’s three-days visit to Nigeria earlier this week, was said to include peace-building activities which is hoped will address the protracted attacks of Islamist herdsmen on predominantly Christian farming communities in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria.
British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright, had said Britain is “looking for ways in which we can mediate to bring reconciliation in the middle belt of Nigeria. This is so important as the conflict is not a religious one and not a conflict between Christians and Muslims.”
This critical part of this programme which was Prince Charles’ visit to Jos, Plateau state, where Christian farming communities have been devastated by Islamic Fulani cattle herdsmen, was canceled. Many Christians were disappointed that Prince Charles would not be able to get first-hand accounts of the devastation rather than listen to the narrative of representatives.
On his arrival, Prince Charles met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa and also met with traditional and religious leaders at the British High Commission in Abuja. Prince Charles visited Lagos, the business capital and former British colonial administrative headquarters of the country. The Nigerian government kept him away from the troubled zones where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed both by Boko Haram Islamic insurgencies and Fulani herdsmen militia.
“We know that security would have been used as the reason why Prince Charles’ visit to Jos was cancelled,” a refugee camp manager said. “What we here in Jos would simply have wanted to tell Prince Charles is, we do not care what they attribute this killing of Christians to be, can they simply make [President] Buhari stop the killings by herdsmen and give us back our lands the Fulanis have taken over?.. is this not what the British government is spending money here for.?
A 72-year-old village head in Jos South who asked not to be named, “You know we cant make too much comments now about Prince Charles’ visit or even the killings in Jos. The killing of the retired General Alkali has demonized many of us here in Jos. We are a people under siege at every level. You make a comment now and the army will pay you a visit.”
There are thousands of refugees in at least 10 camps in Plateau State since the June attacks by Fulani Herdsmen on 14 villages that displaced over 30,000 people and killed over 1000 – mostly women and children.
Baroness Cox, a Member of the British Parliament was in Jos, a few days before the Prince Charles’ visit. She spoke with victims of the Fulani attacks in refugee camps and met with Christian and Muslim community leaders in Jos during her visit.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos