Tuesday, July 17, 2012

RLPB 168. Nigeria: terror in Plateau state

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 168 | Wed 18 Jul 2012

By Elizabeth Kendal

Numbering around 30 million, the Fulani (also known as Fulbe) are the largest nomadic tribe in the world, with around half living in northern Nigeria. Like the traditionally nomadic Tuareg who are mostly based in northern Mali, the Fulani are spread over the Sahel, occupying a large area mostly south and east of the Tuareg zone. Just like the Tuareg, the Fulani have been impacted negatively by desertification and modernisation. As the desert has migrated south, so too have the Fulani. Traditionally nomadic cattle herders, they either urbanise or seek out new lands to graze their cattle. This brings them into conflict with the 'indigenes': settled, agrarian, mostly Christian tribes. Over recent decades, resurgent Islamic fundamentalist political ideology has been added to the volatile mix, paving the way for Islamists and jihadists to hijack local issues strategically for their own ends.

On Saturday morning 7 July some 100 ethnic Fulani (Muslim) herdsmen launched attacks on nine ethnic Berom (Christian) villages in Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Plateau State. Sources told Channels TV that around one hundred attackers stormed the villages commando-style, dressed in black attire with bullet-proof vests and sophisticated weapons. Sixty-three people were killed, dozens wounded and more than 60 homes were burned. The next day Christians and sympathetic Muslims, along with several political dignitaries, gathered in Matse village for a mass burial. During the funeral procession Fulani gunmen swept in firing indiscriminately, aided in their attack by uniformed soldiers. Whilst at least 22 mourners were killed, Nigerian security forces were able to repel the assailants, killing at least 16 of them and capturing one. A further 50 bodies were discovered later in Matse in the home of a Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) pastor. It appears that the victims had been killed the previous day after they fled to the COCIN church for refuge. The pastor took them in but when the Fulani got word of it they surrounded the house and set it on fire.

Whilst the al-Qaeda-linked terror group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the weekend's attacks, the violence does not bear the hallmarks of Boko Haram. Rather, it bears all the hallmarks of a Fulani raid. These raids have become all too common around the Plateau's ethnic-religious fault-line. It has long been suspected that partisan rogue elements within the Nigerian military are assisting both the Fulani in their raids and Boko Haram in their terror and that Boko Haram is inciting belligerent Fulani to kill Christians and is probably also participating in the attacks. Boko Haram terror receives attention because Boko Haram is demanding that Sharia Law be enacted across the nation. Because the Fulani's terror raids have local aims -- ethnic cleansing and colonisation -- they receive little attention. Consequently the Fulani -- now with help from Boko Haram and rogue military -- are inching south, village by village, terrorising, killing and displacing many thousands of Christians in the process.

On Saturday 14 July the Nigerian military ordered that residents be temporarily relocated out of five Fulani-dominated villages in Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs where terrorist elements are believed to be hiding out. A further five villages are on stand-by. Fulani leaders initially encouraged the Fulani to defy the military order and stay put even though a military sweep was imminent. However, on the Monday a deal was brokered that enabled a peaceful relocation of thousands of Fulani into temporary camps. It remains a very difficult and tense situation.

Christians of the Plateau are living in a state of fear, a state of siege. Bombed in their churches, slaughtered in their homes, they are not even safe in their beds at night. There is more to this than meets the eye: as Christ builds his Church, the spiritual battle intensifies. This trauma has its origins -- and its victory -- in heavenly realms!


* draw Christian individuals, families, churches and communities ever closer to him -- the LORD of hosts -- for only in him is there comfort, restoration, encouragement, wisdom, justice and 'strength to turn back the battle at the gate'. (See Isaiah 28:5,6.)

* work through Nigerian political, civic and religious leadership to address practical issues of governance and security for the sake of his Church and the spread of the Gospel.

* bind the forces of evil in heavenly realms that seek to exploit human sinfulness to erect bulwarks against the gospel and send the Holy Spirit with quickening power to open eyes, minds and hearts across Nigeria, that Jesus will be exalted and troubled communities might be transformed.

'Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' (Matthew 18:18 ESV.)


On Saturday 7 July some 100 Fulani (Muslim) herdsmen launched attacks on nine Berom (Christian) villages in Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State. Wearing bullet-proof vests and armed with sophisticated weapons, they killed 63 people, wounded dozens and torched more than 60 homes. The next day they attacked the funeral, killing another 22. A further 50 bodies were  found later in the burnt-out home of a local pastor who had sheltered fleeing Christians. Boko Haram claimed responsibility but the terror bears all the hallmarks of a Fulani raid aimed at ethnic cleansing and colonisation. Boko Haram incites and participates in the killings, with rogue elements in the military aiding both Boko Haram and the Fulani. Christians are not safe anywhere. Please pray.

Ramadan (Muslim month of fasting) commences on 20 July.
Please visit http://www.30-days.net/ and pray for Muslims through Ramadan.