Many experts now report that ongoing violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, where mainly Muslim Fulani herdsmen have attacked predominantly Christian farmers, has killed more people than Boko Haram.
Through September and October, repeated attacks against Christian communities left more than 75 dead, according to an NGO on the ground, Stefanos Foundation. Throughout the course of the violence, 12 villages have been attacked. In addition to the casualties, 489 homes have been burned and 13,726 people displaced, it said.
The violence continued to claim more lives in November. In the early hours of Monday 13 November, two men, Christopher Dung and Bulus Dantoro, were ambushed and killed in Wereng village in Riyom Local Government Area.
A week earlier, nine others were shot dead and four more injured as they returned from a weekly village market in the same Riyom LGA. The victims identified the perpetrators as Fulani militants. Then on 30 November, at least four people were fatally injured after Fulani herdsmen armed with guns opened fire at a mining site in Jol village, also in Riyom.
The Plateau state governor, Simon Lalong, has now revealed that some of those responsible for the attacks have been arrested, although he did not publicly identify them as Fulanis. “We have some of them in our custody already. Security agents are just looking for more, and then we will make the arrests public,” said Lalong on 8 December, when a delegation of Christian leaders from one of Nigeria’s main denominations, the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), paid the governor a visit at the Government House in Jos, the capital of Plateau state.
Earlier, the COCIN President, Rev Dr Dachollom Datiri, had expressed concern that many of the killings have been attributed to “unknown” gunmen.
Tensions increased in Jos on Tuesday 5 December as a local group brought an open-grazing prohibition bill before the state House of Assembly. The Plateau Youths G-17 for Peace and Progress, led by Dachung Musa Bagos, marched outside the state House of Assembly, dressed in black and holding placards demanding the prohibition of open grazing. The Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Peter Azi, who met with the G-17 youths on Tuesday morning, said the House will carefully study and consider the bill, as happened in Ekiti and Benue, which have such bans in force, and the south-eastern state of Taraba, which is also considering such a ban.
But in a swift reaction, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), a Fulani group, warned the state House of Assembly not to yield to the pressure to pass the bill, saying it would brew further trouble in the restive state.
Source: World Watch Monitor