By Danielle Wallace
Published December 24, 2019
A militia of Islamic Fulani herdsmen murdered Christians as part of an aggressive and strategic land-grabbing strategy across the Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Southern Kaduna and parts of Bauchi state, the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), a British non-profit run by a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Cox, reported.
"They attack rural villages, force villagers off their lands and settle in their place — a strategy that is epitomized by the phrase: 'Your land or your blood,'" the report said. "In every village, the message from local people is the same: 'Please, please help us! The Fulani are coming. We are not safe in our own homes.'"
"In every village, the message from local people is the same: 'Please, please help us! The Fulani are coming. We are not safe in our own homes.'"
The report, published Nov. 18 but circulated this month, is titled “Your Land or Your Body.” It also estimates about 6,000 Christians have been killed by members of the Fulani ethnic group since 2015 and another 12,000 displaced, according to a copy obtained by The Christian Post.
Nomadic Fulani herdsmen “seek to replace diversity and difference with an Islamist ideology which is imposed with violence on those who refuse to comply. It is – according to the Nigerian House of Representatives – genocide,” Baroness Cox told the Christian Institute.
“Something has to change — urgently," Cox also told Christian Today. “For the longer we tolerate these massacres, the more we embolden the perpetrators. We give them a 'green light' to carry on killing."
“Something has to change — urgently. For the longer we tolerate these massacres, the more we embolden the perpetrators. We give them a 'green light' to carry on killing."
Tensions over land-scarcity have been rising in Nigeria as the Sahara Desert continues to expand and the population is on the rise. Predominantly Christian communities remain the target of land-grabbing attacks, suggesting “religion and ideology play a key part" in the Fulani herdsmen’s motive.
The Fulani herdsmen are responsible for the majority of the Christian deaths in Nigeria in 2019. About half of the Christian deaths this year occurred in five separate attacks in Kaduna between January and November, the report said, according to Christian Today. Christians are also being killed by Boko Haram, a jihad terrorist group, in the Borno state, the report said. The exact death toll is not known.
“The attacks have, on occasion, led to retaliatory violence, as communities conclude that they can no longer rely on the government for protection or justice," the report said. “However, we have seen no evidence of comparability of scale or equivalence of atrocities."