Massacring On The Ground Of Religion
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) is deeply pained and saddened by the indiscriminate massacring of defenceless civilians of Christian Faith by the Nigerian Army. This, the Army now does with reckless abandon and uttermost impunity; to the extent that in the past ten months surveyed, or from July 2020 to the first week of April 2021, 350 defenceless Christian civilians, if not more, have been massacred by the Army in its peacetime internal security operations (non-war situations). The most disheartening of it all is that the defenceless victims, slain on the grounds of their religion and ethnicity, were massacred by soldiers in revenge for the loss of their colleagues. That is to say that ‘when criminal citizens attack and kill soldiers, the Army turns around and massacres defenceless civilians, especially Christian civilians in revenge and labels the slain victims as “hoodlums”.
To Army, It Is A ‘Taboo’ For Soldiers To Die But Customary To Massacre Civilians: It further saddens our heart that security and safety of the defenceless civilian citizens of Nigeria have now been turned upside down and privatized by the country’s security forces particularly the Nigerian Army; whereby ‘it is now a taboo for soldiers or other security personnel to die in the line of their duties, but customary for civilians to be massacred’. That is to say that the death of a soldier in nowadays Nigeria instantly attracts genocidal reprisal against defenceless civilians particularly Christians. In Nigeria of today, too, it is no longer: “it is better to lose five security personnel to save an endangered innocent soul than to save the security personnel and allow the defenceless soul to be killed”. Despite being paid and catered for on an hourly and daily basis by Nigerians and their commonwealth to defend and protect defenceless citizens of the country and their properties, the reverse is now the case.
Religious Profiling And Hate Soldiering Are On Rampage: As part of its hate soldiering and religious profiling, the Army, from all indications, is deriving sadistic joy in turning its weapons of death against defenceless Christian civilians at slightest or no provocation but rescinding same or looking blindly the other side when attacked by Muslims in Muslim areas. Following our recent investigative findings, it was found that the Army lost at least 300 soldiers in 2020 and most of them were killed in the Muslim held Northeast and Northwest by Muslim insurgency groups, and yet, heaven did not fall. The Army also does little or nothing when Muslim insurgency group like jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and jihadist Fulani “Bandits” attack and slaughter defenceless citizens especially Christians. In the three months and ten days of this 2021, according to the Nigerian Security Weekly Tracker reports of the Council on Foreign Relations owned by John Campbell, a former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Nigerian Army has lost a total of 70 soldiers, with 58 lost in Borno State alone, Nasarawa nine, Gusau three and so on (compared to about 25 in Benue, SS, and SE); yet the attackers are still on the prowl and the communities where the attacks took place have not been wiped out or razed. Such Muslim-held communities including Damboa, Dikwa, Chibok, Maiduguri, Nasarawa, Gusau, Kukawa, Marte, Koya, and Guzamala are till date inhabited, and their houses, mosques, and emir palaces intact.
But the contrary was recently the case in Akwa Ibom and the Benue States. For losing 11 soldiers in Benue State, 100 defenceless Christian civilians or more were massacred and dozens went missing and their dwelling houses and properties including the Palace of the respected Traditional Ruler of Agidi (Tyoor Unaha Koko) razed or set on fire. In Akwa Ibom State (Essien-Udim LGA), for losing some police officers and others to criminal citizens, defenceless Christian civilians numbering 30 or more were slaughtered by soldiers and their homes and properties razed or burnt. Survivors were forced to flee and take refuge in a Catholic Church. According to facts emerging from Shangev-Tiev, Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue, apart from massacring 100 or more, the Nigerian Army also ‘bombed, razed and demolished farms, schools, hospitals and residences’ belonging to over 15 rural Christian Communities of Bonta, Tse-Jembe, Tse-Anyom, Gbinde, Mbaakpur, Aku, Agidi, Gungul, Adoka, Guleya, Awajir, Shiliki, Achono, and Ulam Communities” and forced thousands to flee their homes till date.
The Benue Army massacre, the latest in its litany of civilian massacres since August 2015, truly and fully bears colour of religious and ethnic profiling and hate soldiering; otherwise, how could soldiers, sent to man and patrol boundary demarcation areas between the people of Shangev-Tiev in Konshisha Local Government and the ancestral Igede Igbo Community in Okpute located in Oju Local Government turn around and levy unprovoked massacre on same citizens they were sent to protect? Yet the same soldiers had severally turned and are still turning blind eyes against genocidal Fulani Herdsmen who have massacred over 400 Benue Christians since Jan 2020 and recently attempted to assassinate the Christian sitting Governor of the State. This is to the extent that to date, no single jihadist attacker has been apprehended by the Army even when the group that did the attack came out and claimed responsibility.
Intersociety has also investigated and found that one of the major triggers of Army targeted massacre of defenceless Christian civilian population at slightest or no provocation in Nigeria especially in the Christian held part is domination and control of key Army commands in the areas by senior officers of Fulani-Hausa Muslim extraction. On the other hand, it is also our finding that Christian Army commanders in the Muslim held Northern part of the country are minutely insignificant in number and where they are posted, they tightly work under what appears to be “caliphate instructions”. The takeover and control of key Army formations in Christian held part of the country by these Muslim officers is found to be a deliberate policy of the present Government of Nigeria and has been majorly responsible for disproportionate security and safety of the affected Christian civilian population and their properties; thereby putting them not only in danger but also exposing them to attacks by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, jihadist Fulani “Bandits” and others.
Names Of The Muslim Army Commanders: In the nine Christian-held States of Benue, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Imo, Rivers, Abia, Rivers, and Akwa Ibom, it was found that all their key Army commanders are Fulani-Hausa Muslim officers and one Southwest Muslim. In Benue State, Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke is Major Gen Yekini Adeyemi (Southwest Muslim), Commander of 401 Special Forces Brigade, Makurdi is Brigadier Gen Samai’la Mohammed Uba (Fulani-Hausa Muslim) and Commanding Officer of 72 Special Forces Battalion, Makurdi (as at Jan 2021) is Lt Col A.D. Alhassan (Fulani-Hausa Muslim). In Edo State, Brigade Commander of 4 Brigade, Benin is Brigadier Gen MA Sadiq (Fulani-Hausa Muslim), in Delta State, Brigade Commander of 63 Brigade; Asaba is Brigadier Gen A Idris (Fulani-Hausa Muslim). In Anambra State, Cantonment Commandant of the 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha is Col Abdulsalam Abubakar Sambo (Fulani-Hausa Muslim), in Imo State, Brigade Commander of 34 Brigade, Obinze is Brigadier Gen Ibrahim Tukura (Fulani-Hausa Muslim), in Abia State, Brigade Commander of 14 Brigade, Ohafia is Brig Gen M. Ibrahim (Fulani-Hausa Muslim), in Akwa Ibom State, Brigade Commander of 2 Brigade, Uyo is Brigadier Gen Faruk Mijinyawa (Fulani-Hausa Muslim) and in Rivers State, GOC, 6 Division, Port Harcourt is Major Gen Sambo G Mohammed (Fulani-Hausa Muslim). These are just to mention but a few.
In Takum Taraba, 30 unarmed Christian civilians were killed by soldiers on 29th/30th June 2020 and at Emene in Enugu, at least 30 Christian civilians were killed. On 20th Oct 2020, at least 20 mostly Christians were killed at Lekki in Lagos State and across the Southeast during EndSARS protests in the same Oct 2020, at least 30 defenceless Christian civilians were killed by soldiers in Enugu, Abia, Anambra, Imo, and Ebonyi. Between 21st Oct and mid-Nov 2020, Army massacred at least 102 Christian civilians in Obigbo and environs in Rivers State. Between 14th and 22nd Jan 2021, Army killed at least ten Christian civilians including six farmers in Orlu, Imo State. On 5th April 2020, at least 30 Christian civilians were killed by soldiers in Essien-Udim, Akwa Ibom State, and on 6th to 7th April 2021, 100 Christian civilians or more were massacred by soldiers in Shangev-Tiev, Konshisha Local Government Area located in Benue State and dozens of others are still missing. These are just to cite but a few.