Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In light of the ever escalating violence in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria, International Christian Concern (ICC) will be publishing monthly reports throughout 2018. The reports will focus on the actions of Fulani militants and Boko Haram terrorists against Christian villages in the Middle Belt.
The month of January was particularly devastating for Christians in the Middle Belt. The region consists of the states straddled by the predominately Muslim north and predominately Christian south, including Adamawa, Benue, Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Taraba the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja), as well as the southern parts of Kaduna, Kebbi, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, and Borno States. This region has historically been one of the most violent and war-torn areas of Nigeria.
In January, ICC documented at least 44 attacks by Fulani militants on Christian farming villages that killed over 170 people and destroyed thousands of homes and other properties. ICC also documented eight Boko Haram attacks on communities which resulted in the deaths of 65 people.
Unfortunately, the Nigerian military also contributed to the number of individuals killed in the Middle Belt in January. According to sources in Adamawa state, military aircraft inadvertently killed nearly 35 Christians. The military says that the aircraft, including three jets and one helicopter, were meant to deter fighting between the two communities, but whether this is true or not, it did not help and only contributed to the total number of Christians killed in the Middle Belt region.
According to International Christian Concern, in January 2018, the total number of Christians killed in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria is over 250.
This number represents nearly a 40 percent increase in the number of Christians killed by Fulani and Boko Haram militants in January 2017. In January 2017, the Fulani perpetrated roughly 23 attacks on Christian communities, killing more than 75 people. Over that same time period, Boko Haram attacked 20 times and claimed over 105 lives. These numbers paint a bleak future for Christians trying to survive in the Middle Belt. If the statistics hold, they could mean a significant increase in the total number of Christians killed in the Middle Belt region, from around 1,900 total deaths in 2017 to more than 2,600 total deaths in 2018.
Below is a list of the biggest attacks and groupings of attacks ICC documented in January 2018.
January 1-3: Fulani militants killed more than 50 Christians in six villages located in Benue (Tom-Atar and Umenge, Akor villages in Guma and Ayilamo, Turan, Ngambe-Tiev in Logo local government area).
January 5-6: Fulani militants killed 15 Christian villagers in two villages in Benue (Tse Akombo, Tse Vii and Tse Agule).
January 16-17: Fulani militants attacked and killed 29 people in five villages in Taraba (Gishiri, Dooshima, Danwaza, Wukari, and Donnada).
This dramatic increase in violence is a troubling sign for the year to come. Continued attacks will lead to further deaths, destabilization, and the devastation of the most fertile land in Nigeria. The government must step in and control the situation. It must end the violence that is tearing apart families, communities, and religious organizations.