Tribal Leaders Ambushed in Nigeria’s Plateau State

07/28/21 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Three tribal leaders in Plateau State’s Miango District were attacked on their way back from a peace dialogue with Fulani leaders in the area. The incident happened on July 5, 2021 and is reported by some to have been carried out by Fulani militants. One of the tribal leaders was wounded and the vehicle they were riding in was damaged by the gunfire.

The peace dialogue was organized by the Plateau State Peace Building Agency and was held at the Basa Local Government Council Secretariat. Members of the native Rigwe people attended, as well as representatives from the Fulani community. Government officials described the dialogue as warm, though Richard Adamson, a Rigwe community leader and an elder in the Christian church, recalled hostile statements from the Fulani leaders including some that he interpreted as threats to his physical safety. He was the tribal leader who was injured when the vehicle was shot at.

Another victim of the attack, Miango District Head and Chief Daniel Chega, told ICC contacts that he believed the incident was a premeditated act of violence. “The ambush was…planned and coordinated” he said. It was, he said, a “deliberate attempt to kill us.”

Members of the Special Task Force and the 3rd Division of the Nigerian army were nearby when the attack happened. Their presence likely aided in the tribal leaders’ escape.

Reacting to the incident, the Plateau State Peace Building Agency’s Director of Programs, Goodwin Okoko, stated that the attackers would be brought to justice. “The days of impunity are over in Plateau State,” he said. Speaking in an exclusive interview in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, Okoko confirmed the incident and said that Operation Safe Haven resources had been designated to an ongoing investigation.

Peter Bini, a youth leader in the Irigwe community, added to the calls to bring the attackers to justice. “Whenever we go to meetings and tell the truth, Fulani [militants] attack our community…they are targeting Christian communities,” Bini said. Historically, justice in these types of situations has been in short supply and attackers typically walk free.

1,900 civilians and government employees were killed by Boko Haram and Fulani militants in 2020 alone, according to ICC analysis of the situation. Much of the violence is concentrated in Christian-majority areas of the Middle Belt region.

ICC’s analysis shows that the majority of civilian and government deaths in 2020 happened at the hands of Fulani militants rather than Boko Haram terrorists or bandits. Despite this fact, the government of Nigeria continues to largely ignore the Fulani militant crisis in favor of the more easily-defined terrorist threat posed by Boko Haram and the simpler criminal threat posed by vaguely-defined bandits.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org.

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