The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria has criticised the country’s government for failing to act against Fulani herdsmen who have carried out a series of fatal attacks. The anti-persecution charity International Christian Concern says that 80 people in Benue state have been killed in attacks by Fulani militants this year. At the heart of the conflict is the challenge to the herdsmen’s nomadic way of life caused by expansion of established farms and villages. According to the Global Observatory, farmer-herder violence in the country has killed thousands of people and displaced tens of thousands more since the current state of Nigeria was founded in 1999.
In a communiqué issued after a meeting of the House of Bishops, the Church of Nigeria expressed sympathy with the families of those killed and injured in attacks by Fulani herdsmen, and went on to say that: “The bishops observed that as a result of the continuous inaction of the Government, people are beginning to suspect that there is complicity of the Federal Government in these despicable acts. We therefore call on the Federal Government, as a matter of urgency to address these ugly trends and ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.”
They continued: “However, the bishops strongly believe that the permanent solution to the killings by herdsmen lies in the establishment of ranches in line with world best practices and not grazing colonies. Besides, the young herdsmen deserve a better opportunity for education and advancement in life. The bishops believe that it is unkind to design a life of perpetual wandering for these class of youth.”
The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, said yesterday (Monday) that the rising attacks by herdsmen would soon be brought under control by security forces deployed to the vulnerable areas across the country, the Daily Trust reports. His spokesman, Femi Adesina, said that the unfortunate incident of attacks, which had resulted in loss of lives and properties, had already brought sorrow and hardship on many Nigerians, with the government deeply affected.
Yesterday, Nigerians gathered in the British capital for a march from London’s Trafalgar Square to 10 Downing Street, the home of Britain’s Prime Minister, and the Nigerian High Commission, where petitions were handed in calling for action to end the violence.
Protestors gather outside the Nigerian High Commission in London.
Photo: Adetutu Balogun / Twitter / @Tutsy22
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also called for an end to the attacks. In a Tweet, he said: “I’m deeply saddened by the killings and displacements in #Nigeria. President @MBuhari and authorities are exhorted to act now to end this violence and begin mediated dialogue. I mourn with this great country and stand with them in prayer.”