EXCERPTS FROM THE PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE COALITION OF FULANI GROUPS ON THE 7TH OF JANUARY 2024, OVER WHAT THEY SEE AS A TACTICAL APPROACH OF ETHNIC CLEANSING OF FULANI HERDERS IN PLATEAU STATE.
The Coalition of Fulani Groups released a statement on January 7th, 2024, expressing their strong condemnation of the recent crisis and widespread destruction of lives and properties in Bokkos and Mangu Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Plateau State. The group mourns the loss of hundreds of lives, the destruction of numerous houses and properties worth billions of naira, the killing and rustling of thousands of livestock, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, who now find themselves homeless in inclement weather.
While extending their condolences to the immediate families of the deceased and the people of Plateau State, the Coalition of Fulani Groups also appreciates the swift response of the security agencies in containing the escalation of the crisis into neighboring communities.
According to the statement, the unfortunate events began on December 21st, 2023, when a Fulani herder named Bashiru Bello was killed in Kawel, Mushu ward of Bokkos LGA. The attackers were identified as militia from Mangu and Bokkos areas. Furthermore, on December 23rd, while mourning the death of Bashiru, eight more people were brutally murdered in the Ndun area of Tangur ward in another deadly attack. The Bokkos Division of the Nigerian Police Force and the commander of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) in Bokkos LGA were involved in the recovery of the victims' bodies.
In their courageous efforts to rescue their 181 rustled cattle, three Fulani individuals lost their lives on December 24th, 2023. As a response, security operatives successfully neutralized six of the cattle rustlers, saving the cows in the process.
According to the group's account, on December 25th, 2023, Fulani communities in Tashan Maikarfi, Batura Gida, Nbar, Kop, Kwatas, Humet, and Fagin (Fokkos) settlements were completely destroyed by the Bokkos militia and their accomplices from Mangu. Additionally, 58 cows were stolen during the incident.
Available records from April 14th, 2023 to July 15th, 2023, reveal that the conflict initially began in Mangu. The following events took place during that time period:
1. A horrifying death toll of over 350 individuals.
2. More than 115 settlements were burned to the ground, along with all the properties and food supplies inside. The houses were completely destroyed.
3. Approximately 23,515 people were displaced and forced to seek shelter in internal camps or in neighboring states such as Bauchi, Nassarawa, Kaduna, and Taraba.
4. The destruction resulted in the loss of numerous properties worth billions of naira.
Our people are currently facing significant challenges including acts of violence and war crimes. We are deeply concerned about the following issues:
1. The authorities have neglected the humanitarian needs of our internally displaced persons (IDPs), particularly in terms of food, medicine, clothing, and shelter.
2. There have been instances of targeted killings of our people as they go about their daily lives, attempting to support their displaced families.
3. Our cattle continue to be killed and stolen, causing further economic hardship for our community.
4. Some militia members are disguising themselves in security uniforms, making it difficult to differentiate between friend and foe, and endangering the lives of our unarmed population.
5. The absence of security personnel in our IDP camps and other unaffected areas leaves our people vulnerable to attacks and illegal arrests by certain unscrupulous members of the security forces.
6. There is a perception that some quarters are inciting violence against our community, which further exacerbates the situation.
7. Delegations from federal, state, and other concerned groups have been unable to visit our affected areas, hindering the understanding of the gravity of the crisis.
8. Our cattle have been confined to a limited area, making them susceptible to diseases and increased risks of theft and killing.
9. Our people are being indiscriminately arrested and detained by security agencies, even in public spaces such as roads, markets, and homes.
10. Between July 29, 2023, and December 24, 2023, a total of 834 cows were stolen by the Bokkos militia and their accomplices from Mangu, specifically in the areas of Kawel, Rom, and Sat.
We passionately appeal to the federal government, security agencies, and other stakeholders to address these concerns:
1. Provide humanitarian assistance to our IDPs through agencies such as SEMA, NEMA, and generous donors both within and outside Nigeria.
2. Ensure adequate security measures are in place to protect our people from targeted killings and harm.
3. Recover our stolen cattle, which are believed to be deposited in various locations such as Mangun, Kombun, Bwoi, Kerang, Ampang, Pushit, among others, in Mangu and Bokkos local government areas.
4. Take decisive action to identify and apprehend individuals who disguise themselves in security uniforms to attack our community, as this erodes trust in the security forces among our people.
5 Provision of adequate security to our people more especially in the IDP camps, villages, homes, places of business such as grazing areas, cattle markets, water sides and roads.
6. Security should checkmate video clips, pictures and other submissions that are not related to what happened in Bokkos just to incite the general public, governments and international community against the Fulani people. Like the Burkina Faso video trending as an evidence of what happened in Bokkos and the video of security personnel attacking some women.
7. We appeal to governments at all level to visit our people to ascertain the level of damage meted on our people and should not be shielded by anybody to portray our people as not part of the victims of the crisis.
8. Security should be more professional in handling arrests and intelligence gathering to bring trust of security within our people
The perpetrators of these heinous acts should be tracked, arrested, prosecuted and punished without fear or favour.
9. Urging the federal government to send a high powered delegation of reputable and unbiased people to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the crisis and the level of damage made in the communities during and after the crisis to bring lasting solution to the perennial crises on the plateau.