Jos, June 14, 2021: At least 15 people have been killed in Central Nigeria, days after the country’s President declared that terrorists dislodged from the Northeast had moved “in-country”, posing fresh threats.
On Saturday, June 12, 2021, hours after President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day address in which he linked growing internal security threats in the country to military “scattering” of insurgents in the Northeast, suspected herdsmen killed a farmer in Dong village near the Jos Wild Life Park where eight people were killed on May 21, 2021.
The Punch newspaper also reports that on same Saturday, herdsmen attacked a rice farmer in Bindofu village, in the Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State, and chopped off his hand. The next day, June 13, 2021, another group of armed assailants identified by locals as Herdsmen simultaneously attacked two farming communities in the State of Plateau, killing 14 and wounding seven.
The attacks at about 9pm local time left 12 people dead and five others injured in Kushe Kuru village in Jos South Local Government Area, and another two dead with two others injured in Zongu village of Bassa Local Government.
Mr. Pius Dung, the Village Head of Kushe Kuru village said the assailants numbered over 30. “They seemed to have surrounded the village, shooting from every corner,” said Pius. The assailants were hooded, but spoke Hausa language, said Miss Kangyang John, a survivor, shot in the leg. Another survivor, Mrs. Joy Nansok said some of the attackers wore “long black robes” common with Fulani herdsmen.
The attack lasted about thirty minutes with no intervention by federal securities, locals said. Mr. Dalyop Chuwak, 43, a member of the Vigilante in Kuru said he rushed to lock the entrance of an active restaurant to minimize danage but narrowly escaped.
“It was a two-room restaurant. They broke into the first room and were shooting at random when I got there. They shot at me but I jumped through the window into the next room and bolted the door. There were over ten other people there. They shot at the lock several times but could not gain entrance,” Chuwak told our Correspondent. Federal securities did not appear in the village till 11:49am on Monday, he said.
Police and Military authorities have yet to respond to inquiries on the attacks, but the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong said the attacks call for “increased surveillance and intelligence gathering” by civilian communities. “These unprovoked and isolated attacks on soft targets must be stopped at all cost,” said Lalong through the Secretary to the Government of Plateau State, Mr. Danladi Atu during a visit to Kushe Kuru village on Monday.
However, ‘Intelligence’ about the Kuru killings was shared a month earlier, but no action was taken, said Mr. Musa Bagos, a Member of the Nigerian House of Reps. “Intelligence about these killings were out one month earlier. But they called it rumours. Now it has happened,” said Bagos, the member representing Jos South/Jos East constituency in the Nigerian Parliament.
“This is why we have been clamouring for State Police, but they gave us community Police. Now where is the community Police? They gather intelligence, but the intelligence is not worked upon,” Bagos said at the scene of the Kuru attack. Community Police are volunteers trained and licensed by the Nigerian Police as neighborhood watch representatives. They are however not licensed to carry arms.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday said the “unintended consequences” of the Country’s “scattering” of terrorists in the North East had “pushed them further in-country”.
In April 2021, Boko Haram fighters hoisted flags in the Shiroro area of Niger State, Nigeria’s Middle Belt region, abducting wives of fleeing residents, the state’s governor said.
“I am confirming that we have Boko Haram elements in Niger State, around Kaure. They have taken over the territory… They have installed their flag,” said Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello, in a widely circulated video.
On May 19, 2021, the Nigerian Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali revealed plans by Boko Haram to carry out attacks in Jos, the capital of Plateau State and the country’s capital city of Abuja. It is not clear if this was what President Buhari meant, especially as he referred to the “in-country” activities of terrorists as “what we are now facing and dealing with,” without a mention of attacks by Fulani herdsmen.
There have been reports of Boko Haram fighters facing resistance from military forces and rival groups in the Northeast escaping to neighboring States to form alliance with killer herdsmen. “Boko Haram has been pressed against, and pushed back, and limited. But there [is] evidence that some of those fighters are now assisting the Fulani. Or some of those guns are now making their way from Boko Haram into the hands of some of these radical Islamists among the Fulani people,” Todd Nettleton, an official of Voice of the Martyrs said told Mission Network News.
Sahara Reporters reported on March 25, 2021 that Boko Haram terrorists were training Fulani herdsmen in Northeast Yobe State. http://saharareporters.com/2021/03/25/exclusive-how-boko-haram-fighters-have-been-training-fulani-herdsmen-collecting-taxes. There have also been reports of Boko Haram terrorists disguising as Fulani herdsmen to carry out attacks. (https://www.sunnewsonline.com/boko-haram-terrorists-now-disguise-as-herdsmen-to-attack-taraba/)
However, attributing the herdsmen killings in Middle Belt and Northwestern Nigeria to Boko Haram may be attempts to deflect responsibility from Fulani herders for attacks on sedentary farming communities throughout north and central Nigeria, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says. Denying or covering herdsmen attacks, a former Central Bank Official, Jonathan Akun said encourages the crimes, and further threatens the safety of citizens and foreigners in the country.