By Donu Kobgara
An article written by Douglas Murray, a British think-tank director, was published on this page last week. Titled “Who Will Protect Nigeria’s Northern Christians?”, the article claimed that Northern Christians are enduring terrible suffering at the hands of Muslims and accused various groups of actively colluding with the herdsmen or of simply ignoring their embattled victims. An excerpt:
The international community pretends that this situation is a tit-for-tat problem, rather than a one-sided slaughter. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the press fails to report or actively obscures the situation. Christians in the south of the country feel little solidarity with their co-religionists suffering from this Islamic revivalism and territorial conquest in the north. And worst of all, the plight of these people is of no interest to their own government. In fact, this ethnic and religious cleansing appears to be taking place with that government’s complicity or connivance…
…The complicity between the army and the Fulani [herdsmen] is obvious…Even if the Nigerian Army does not support Boko Haram, elements of it certainly do.
I reproduced Mr Murray’s article on my page because I felt bad about his allegation that the Nigerian press has been indifferent at best. Journalists’ sacred duties include highlighting injustice, monitoring those who are in a position to abuse power and at least trying to protect the weak. And I wanted to do my little bit.
I also pointed out that there was a need for the Nigerian authorities to respond to the extremely serious allegations that were levelled against the army and government by a foreigner who enjoys considerable credibility.
But the Nigerian authorities have not sent any response to me, so I can’t offer Vanguard readers their side of the story and I am inclined to assume the worst. If an individual or organisation cannot be bothered to defend him/her/itself, s/he or it should not complain if some folks don’t give him/her/it the benefit of any doubts! In the meantime, some readers have reacted to the article as follows:-
Some readers reactions
From Professor Idris Bugaje (email@example.com)
Dear Sir [Mr Murray],
I can understand your anger, but you have mixed up truth with falsehood. And this is not the way to find a solution to this very unfortunate problem bedeviling Northern Nigeria.
These Cattle Fulani Herdsmen have attacked Muslim communities and killed many in Niger, Zamfara, Katsina and other Northern states. It is not just Plateau and Southern Kaduna.
On Boko Haram, not all the girls were Christians as you insinuated. And BH is doing more damage to Islam than Christianity both in terms of fatal casualties and the bad image it has created about Islam globally.
On the Cattle Fulani attacks, there is need to bring community leaders, political elites and the government (including the security agencies) on a round table to find a way out. It is very appalling and unacceptable to continue killing innocent lives on both sides. Lets find a way forward. IMB
From Ifeka Okonkwo (firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Donu, it is very disheartening and condemnable that our military personnel will fold their harms and watch Fulani herdsmen slaughtering Christians in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the North, without raising a finger to save their lives by confronting the murderous Fulani herdsmen head-on with the arsenal at their disposal.
The ethnic cleansing being carried out by Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the North, could be likened to that of Janjaweed in Dafur, Sudan, period!
The world is watching while our President, as the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, is yet to order the troops under his command to disarm Fulani herdsmen who since he came to power two years ago, have been moving about with AK47 rifles with their cows, in all parts of our country destroying farmlands, raping women, kidnapping people for ransom and maiming or killing farmers with impunity! They should be alive to their responsibilities by stopping further bloodshed of innocent Nigerians by the murderous Fulani herdsmen!
08061288297 – No name
I read your article with utter dismay and bemusement. The article was unbalanced, lopsided and equally misleading. It’s expected of you as a columnist or to be informed or aware with the situation under consideration, also be objective, unbiased and balance but not sectional, selfish neither regional. The crisis is a do me I do you or tit-for-tat. Some Christian villagers do block roads and attack Muslim travellers. For example, in Southern Kaduna, most roads leading to Jos and Son villages in Plateau. Muslims were killed on large scale in Yelwan Shendam, Kafanchan and other unreported attacks in many places. Is it because Muslims don’t complain?
My response to that article of June 2 is mixed. Mixed in the sense that the so-called herdsmen are no more than jihadist whose mission is to deep the Koran into the ocean. But the tacit cooperation of the authorities and cover up by the Nigerian government is mind boggling. The West seem to pretend that it is unaware of this religious cum ethnic cleansing going on in this country but….. We are sitting on a keg of gunpowder which if it goes off will affect the whole world . Whether they are herdsmen or militias the silence of the government leaves one wondering. May God save Nigeria
Kudos ma for the article on the plight of Northern Christians. It is good to call attention of the international press/community but what are the political stakeholders like local government officers, state and federal legislators and governors doing about the problem? Unless they make the right noise, the atrocities will never receive proper attention.
Thank you for that wonderful, frank piece. The article was timely and is wake up call to the international community to rescue Northern Christians