ICC Note: Nigerian Christians in Benue State suffered hell on earth in February 2016, facing a massacre of 500 believers in villages across Agatu Local Government Area (LGA), Fulani herder attacks that displaced thousands. Sadly, these kinds of massacres are nothing new to Nigerian and are all-too-common in Benue State. The following World Watch Monitor report details years of bloody history where Fulani herders have afflicted Benue Christians with murder, crop destruction, and displacement, a troubling trend that reveals untold persecution on a scale that rivals and sometimes surpasses Boko Haram.
3/28/16 Benue State, Nigeria (World Watch Monitor) – In the rural village of Agatu, in north central Nigeria, someone had successfully installed a solar panel in his home before the arsonists lit their fires. It was late February when suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen razed scores of villages in central Nigeria’s most Christian state. The contrast between one community modestly reaching for modern advancement, and another relying on medieval practices, could not be sharper.
The northern Fulani tribe herds their cattle, traversing the length of a country the size of Texas, as their fathers have done for centuries – on foot. The only discernible change in this age-long practice is that many have traded their nomadic staffs for AK47s. As vectors of a jihad two centuries ago that shaped contemporary Islam in Nigeria, it is uncertain if the automatic rifles are for tending cows or a necessary jihadi upgrade.
The Idoma people of Agatu till the land, as did their forbears for aeons. But schools have dotted the landscape, clinics and churches too, as they have embraced Christianity and Western education, turning away centuries before from Fulani Islamic jihad. Huts have turned to houses, and far more young people drift to cities to live and work than remain at home to farm.