Nigerian security forces accused of bias against Christian victims of attacks

Published 27 July 2019  |  
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja

Security forces in Nigeria have been accused of bias towards the perpetrators of attacks on largely Christian communities.

The Co-Adjutor Archbishop of Abuja, Ignatius Kaigama, said that political leaders and security forces both needed to work to protect minority groups.

Villagers in areas where the Fulani are active allege that police were absent while attacks were carried out by militant herdsmen. One group told him that the security forces arrested Christians who tried to defend themselves, Aid to the Church in Need reports.

He warned that a bias within the security forces was heightening ethnic tensions and inflaming the Fulani crisis.

"Biased and prejudiced official security reports heighten tension when they blame the victims instead of the aggressors because of the Nigerian 'factor' of tribal or religious affiliation. This sadly keeps the fire of the crisis raging," he said.

"Generally, it is when the militant herdsmen vanish after their deadly attacks that the poor villagers try to react to protect or defend themselves."

There has been a wave of clashes between nomadic Fulani herdsmen and Jukun Kona farmers in Jalingo Local Government of Taraba State, Nigeria in recent months.

A string of attacks on two primary schools, a health centre and 15 churches have left at least 65 people dead and around 9,000 people displaced.

The attacks were spread across 18 predominantly Christian villages.

Attacks have also been carried out by Kona farmers on Fulani settlements, with two mosques torched and over 23 Fulani killed.

The clashes were sparked by an altercation between a Fulani herdsman and a Kona farmer on 6 May.

The Archbishop, himself a member of the Kona minority, said: "The violence went on unchecked for a protracted period and the population of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) began to swell because of the increasing attacks of the gunmen."

REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
People react as a truck carries the coffins of people killed by the Fulani herdsmen, in Makurdi, Nigeria January 11, 2018.

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