NGO: Fulani Killings of Nigerian Christians Amount to ‘Genocide’

Nigerian pilgrims wait outside the Tomb of Jesus during their visit at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on February 25, 2016. / AFP / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty

The hundreds of deaths of settled Christian farmers in Nigeria at the hands of nomadic Muslim Fulani herdsmen “extremists” over the last few years have met the standards for “genocide,” a pro-religious minorities NGO recently argued to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Christian Post reported Monday.

Known as the Jubilee Campaign, the international human rights NGO reportedly submitted preliminary research and data to the ICC’s investigative officers in the Hague last week in the form of a new report titled, Nigeria: The Genocide Is Loading.

The NGO’s report contends that the Fulani atrocities against Christians meet the standard for genocide given the intensifying scale and lethality of the Fulani extremist attacks against mainly Christian farmers.

During a panel discussion sponsored by the Save the Persecuted Christians initiative in Washington, DC, this month, human rights lawyer Ann Buwalda, the NGO’s director, declared of the Fulani assaults on Christians, “We believe that genocide is loading. We believe that genocidal behavior and conduct has been taking place and that the perpetrators are not being prosecuted by the Nigerian government.”

In the first half of this year alone, the NGO has documented 52 Fulani attacks against Christians.

Buwalda further proclaimed:

We have been arguing for several years now, as well as to the International Criminal Court, that these have been crimes against humanity. When the ICC indicted Boko Haram, they used the term ‘crimes against humanity.’ I believe legally that we are now rising to the place of genocide. If you look at international standards, … each of these criteria have actually been reached.

She went on to say that the criteria include “killing members of a group,” “causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group,” and “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part,” among others.

At a separate event sponsored by Save the Persecuted Christians in December 2018, Dr. Benjamin Argak Kwashi, a Nigerian bishop, told Breitbart News Fulani herdsmen represent the top terrorist threat facing Christians in Nigeria.

Although the administration of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a Fulani, has categorized the deadly Fulani-Christian dispute solely as a “climate change”-fueled argument over territory and resources, the U.S Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) have acknowledged in recent months some of the attacks by the Fulani carry religious overtones.

Echoing the NGO, some Christian groups have accused the Fulani, described as jihadis by some experts, of committing genocide or “ethnic cleansing” against the followers of Christ in a bid to forcefully take over and occupy their ancestral land.

On Monday, the Christian Post noted:

While the Nigerian government and others have written off the Fulani militant attacks as merely part of a decades-old “farmer-herder clashes” between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt, the Jubilee Campaign report pushes back on that notion.

The report states that Fulani extremist attacks are not only happening with greater regularity and severity but also appear to be premeditated, target civilians, and focused on Christian-populated villages as well as churches. Many Christian communities across the Middle Belt, including entire tribes, have been displaced from their homes due to the attacks.

Citing 2018 data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), the NGO report added, “Fulani militants constituted the deadliest threat to civilians in Nigeria, killing over 1,000 civilians in 2018, surpassing Boko Haram Terrorist Group in casualties.”

According to the Nigeria-based International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Fulanis killed at least 2,400 Christians last year.

The U.S. State Department found that the number of Fulani killings exceeded fatalities by all other groups in Nigeria in 2016, including Boko Haram. That year, Fulanis carried out 146 attacks that left 795 people dead.

In its latest annual report on global terrorism, State noted, “Violence carried out by Fulani extremists … dropped 50 percent in 2017 to 72 attacks in which 321 were people killed.”

Some Christian leaders have urged their followers in Nigeria to defend themselves from the Fulani and Boko Haram.

Citing Fulani violence, the most recent USCIRF annual report issued in April urged State to classify Nigeria as one of several “Countries of Particular Concern (CPC)” for engaging or tolerating “severe religious freedom violations, meaning those that are systematic, ongoing, and egregious.”

Open Doors, an NGO that monitors Christian persecution across the world, deemed Nigeria one of the worst violators of religious freedom in January, highlighting Fulani violence.

In an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, Nigerian Christians have asked for help in defending themselves against persecution, typically by the Fulanis.

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