05/07/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – For Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region, April has been the deadliest month in 2018 thus far. Over the past month, there have been reports of more than 350 people killed in the Middle Belt due to the Fulani militant crisis. These attacks spanned eight states; however, the vast majority of the attacks took place in Benue State. Of the 27 attacks that have been reported, 20 of them took place in a state which has already outlawed open grazing in an attempt to end the violence. This shows that these attacks are not merely about farmers denying herders land. These herders were not denied land by the farmers, but by the government who told them that they must purchase land to graze on.
In a more blatant show of religious motivation, Fulani militants also carried out two attacks on churches in Benue State this past month. On April 24, Fulani militants stormed St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Mbalom. During the attack, they killed two priests and at least 17 parishioners in addition to burning down more than 50 homes. Less than a week later, Fulani militants attacked and killed seven internally displaced people who were taking refuge in a church in Mbamondo.
Below are the largest attacks that took place in April.
1. April 14-16, 2018: Fulani militants attack several villages in Nasarawa State, killing at least 39 and destroying more than a dozen homes.
2. April 24, 2018: Fulani militants attack St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Mbalom, killing two priests and 17 others.
3. April 26, 2018: Fulani militants attack three villages, Tse-Umenge, Mbakpase and Tse-Ali villages, killing 39 and destroying more than 150 houses.
In spite of the tragedies, there are encouraging signs of progress. In April, President Trump hosted Nigeria’s President Buhari in Washington D.C. During an interview, President Trump said, “We’ve had serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed [in Nigeria]. We’re going to work on that problem and work on that problem very, very hard.” This brings hope that the international community is starting to realize the dire situation that is taking place in Nigeria. It is time for the Nigerian government to direct its full attention toward these deadly militants.