RLPB 431. Nigeria: Fulani used as proxies for Islamic jihad
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 431 | Wed 08 Nov 2017
International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church
IDOP 2017: Sunday 5 or 12 November
See: Critical Prayer Requests (CPR)
NIGERIA: FULANI USED AS PROXIES FOR ISLAMIC JIHAD
by Elizabeth Kendal
CFF Director of Advocacy
In the early hours of Monday 16 October, ethnic Fulani Muslim cattle herders dressed in military fatigues stormed the mostly Christian, ethnic Irigwe village of Nkyie Doghwro in Bassa Local Government Area (LGA), in the north of Plateau State. Knowing that an attack was imminent, the villagers had requested extra security from the Special Task Force soldiers based nearby. The soldiers disarmed the residents and gathered them into in a schoolroom where they were to sleep under the protection of military personnel from Operation Safe Haven. However, when the Fulani invaded, the soldiers withdrew, leaving the residents defenceless. Christians have accused the military of complicity in the massacre which claimed 29 lives [graphic image] and emptied the village. The military denies this, claiming the soldiers were simply overwhelmed (an equally disturbing, though highly unlikely, proposition).
The Muslim Fulani attack at night, killing and displacing the mostly Christian indigenous residents. The emptied villages are subsequently occupied by Fulani Muslim settlers from the north. During the first two weeks of October, Christian villages in Plateau were attacked on an almost daily basis. [See recent reports from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), World Watch Monitor (WWM) and Morning Star News (MSN).]
In Bassa LGA alone, over the course of five weeks, numerous attacks targeting two indigenous Irigwe communities, left 72 villagers dead, 23 injured, 489 houses burnt and 13,726 mostly Christian Irigwe displaced out of a population of 80,000. The attacks continued despite a government imposed curfew. On 19 October the Nigerian Air Force announced it had deployed troops, fighter aircraft and attack helicopters to Jos, Plateau State, to join the military efforts in curtailing the violence, in particular to ‘prevent reprisals from the natives’.
In the face of escalating violence in Plateau, a coalition of 25 ethnic nationalities has given the Plateau State House of Assembly two weeks to initiate a bill against open grazing and six months for it to be passed into law. Such a law would mandate that cattle be raised in ranches and banned from grazing on the gardens and crops of indigenes. Other states with Anti-Open Grazing laws are Middle Belt states Benue (law enacted 1 November) and Tarbaba (law to be enacted in January 2018). Whilst Anti-Open Grazing laws could go a long way towards curtailing the crisis, Fulani violence is about more than feeding livestock.
While the Bible mandates Christians spread the Good News that God reconciles sinners to himself through Jesus Christ, Islam mandates Muslims expand the territory under Allah’s rule (i.e., under Islamic Sharia Law — a political mandate). Forced out by the ever-encroaching desert, the traditionally nomadic Fulani cattle herders migrate south in search of food and water for their livestock. These Fulani are then exploited by jihadists and other Islamists — including those in the military and in the government — who use them as proxies in an Islamic jihad to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Christians. This is why they routinely attack with high-powered automatic weapons, and wear bullet-proof vests and military fatigues. It is also why they are virtually never caught and never brought to book. Many suspect they also are supported by Islamists at the highest levels of government. Banning open grazing would actually eliminate one of the Islamisation strategies.
Whilst the most recent violence has occurred in Plateau, Fulani expansion is certainly not limited to Plateau. Speaking at a forum on 30 October, former head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar released some grim statistics. In 2016, Fulani cattle herders killed 2,500 and displaced 62,000 mostly Christian indigenes in Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Benue alone. Human rights advocates and Christian leaders have criticised President Muhammadu Buhari (a Fulani Muslim from the north) for his silence over the crisis. They also question why, on 16 October, the United Nations rewarded the Buhari government by re-electing it to the UN Human Rights Council.
PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:
* richly bless all Christian evangelistic ministry to Fulani Muslims, pouring out the Holy Spirit in abundance and with great power. ‘… they will do these things [i.e. persecute you] because they have not known the Father, nor me.’ (John 16:1-4a ESV)
* bless and protect all Fulani Christian converts committed to evangelising their own people, not only in the interests of the Fulani, but also in the interests of peace. As converts, their lives are gravely imperilled. May the Lord guide them, bless them and be their shield. ‘But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.’ (Psalm 3:3 ESV)
* bless and supply the Bible Colleges that are training Fulani converts and other evangelists to work amongst Nigeria’s Muslims. Fulani are coming to faith in Christ! May the Lord continue to build his Church in Northern Nigeria.
* intervene in Nigeria’s political processes to enable the progress of Anti-Open Grazing laws where they are needed; may he also enable the traditionally nomadic Fulani to embrace the concept of ranches and remove all obstacles to their establishment. ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ (Matthew 19:26 ESV)
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
FULANI IN NIGERIA USED AS PROXIES FOR ISLAMIC JIHAD
Attacks by ethnic Fulani Muslim cattle herders on mostly Christian, indigenous villages in Nigeria’s volatile Middle Belt have escalated markedly. During the first two weeks of October, attacks in Plateau State occurred almost daily, despite a government-imposed curfew and the presence of Nigerian troops. In Bassa Local Government Area alone, 72 villagers were killed and 23 injured, 489 houses were burnt and 13,726 mostly Christian Irigwe were displaced, from a population of 80,000. Emptied villages were subsequently occupied by Fulani Muslim settlers from the north. Whilst the traditionally nomadic Fulani are genuinely seeking food and water for their cattle, they are being armed and used as proxies by jihadists and other Islamists in a jihad to expand Muslim territory at the expense of Christians. Please pray for Nigeria and its Christians.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).