In just the first three weeks of August, radical Muslim Fulani herdsmen in the Plateau state of Nigeria killed 70 Christians, displaced some 30,000 people and destroyed around 500 homes, Morning Star News reported Wednesday.
Militant members of the Fulani have been responsible, along with other jihadists such as Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), in making Nigeria the deadliest nation for Christians last year, and the ninth-most-difficult nation in which to follow Jesus. This according to Open Doors World Watch List, which reports 3,530 Christians killed. Through the end of July, a Nigerian human rights group had estimated that 3,400 Christians had been killed by Islamic jihadists this year, already nearing last year’s record bloodshed.
The attacks on villages in Miango District, Bassa County, came despite the presence of government security forces sent to protect citizens and property, news reports said.
An Irigwe pastor told Morning Star: “While the Fulani herdsmen were attacking my communities, the soldiers and other security agents were around. As the Fulani invaders were carrying out the attacks, we expected them to confront the invaders and stop the destruction going on, but that did not happen.”
Dachollom Datiri, president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), appealed to state and federal governments to help the 30,000 people displaced from the attacks. They are now in camps for what are termed “internally displaced persons.”
Elsewhere in Plateau state, Christian leaders allege the Nigerian military actively participated in destroying farms in Barkin Ladi, Jos South and Riyom counties, areas where more than 50 Christians have been murdered this year.
“Sadly, this carnage, genocide and wanton destruction of properties are being carried out in the very eyes of the security personnel whom the government spends billions of taxpayers’ money on in their operation to protect lives and properties of all Nigerians,” Datiri told the news service.
The Fulani herdsmen ranked as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world on the 2018 Global Terrorism Index. In overall violence, Nigeria trailed only Pakistan. In the number of churches closed or attacked, only China—with a much larger population—outranked Nigeria.
Muhammadu Buhari, an ethnic Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria in 2015 and has been criticized for inaction on the genocide of Christians.
Last year, the U.S. State Department added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria, Burma, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and Tajikistan made that list.
Last December, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, called for an investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.