AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION OF THE MENACE OF FULANI HERDSMEN BANDITRY ATTACKS ON NIGERIAN CHURCHES.
1.0 Background of the Study
From the dawn of the 21st century with a terrible acceleration in recent years, there has been a continued increase in verified reporting of the killings, rapes, mutilations and abductions of Christians in Nigeria. Houses, churches, towns, and agricultural fields are often set on fire during these assaults. In the first six months of 2020, 1,202 Nigerian Christians were killed, according to a July 15, 2020 headline (Samuel S 2020 cited NGO report 2020). This comes on top of the 11,000 Christians killed since June 2015(Premium Times 2015). Experts and and observers are now warning of a progressive genocide as a result of the attack as this appears to be a "slow-motion war" specifically targeting Christians and churches in the Northeast states of Nigeria.
Religiously, in Nigeria the population is approximately 53 percent Muslim and 47 percent Christian—including both Protestants and Catholics. The Muslim community is primarily located in the country's northern states, while the Christians generally reside farthersouth. But both religious groups are scattered across the land(AESS journal 2006).
The Fulani in Nigeria are a part of the Peul, or Fula, ethnic group, which has existed in some form for thousands of years (Iro, 1994). Fulani are more than 20 million in Africa today, and the largest community in the tribe is located in Nigeria, where they make up one of the nation’s largest ethnic groups (Abass, 2012). The Fula people are almost solely Muslim, having converted to Islam from their traditional belief system in the 1500s, and most Fulani maintain a semi-nomadic lifestyle, earning them the appellation of “Fulani herdsmen (Burton, 2016)
The attacks by Fulani herdsmen have in recent years taken more sophisticated dimensions with the use of new types of weapons and communication devices. In consequence, the sedentary agrarian communities have resorted to self-defense through local vigilante groups (Abass 2012; McGregor 2014). This has further aggravated violence, with destruction of lives and properties. Nte (2016) argued that most of the very violent conflicts and banditry crisis triggered by Fulani Herdsmen occurred in the middle-belt of Nigeria in general and Plateau, Benue and Taraba States in particular of mostly attacked are christain communities. In the case of Benue State there have been highly devastating conflicts that have claimed so many lives and properties engendered by Fulani Herdsmen in communities of local government areas such as Agatu, Guma, Gwer West, Makurdi, Kwande, Katsina-Ala and Loggo. The communal conflicts orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State had claimed the lives of more than 5000 victims in the first half in the year 2014 (Nte, 2016).
However, the recent banditry attacks on the South East and South Western part of Nigeria by Fulani herdsmen on their hosting community(mostly Christian communities) in Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Ondo States called for proactive actions as many souls were brutally murdered , churches burnt and landed properties, like vegetative, totally destroyed by this marauding Fulani herdsmen.Hence it is on this note that this study seek to examine the menace of fulani herdsmen banditry attack on Nigeria Churches.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The frequent banditry attacks on christian communities and their farmlands these days by herdsmen is terribly alarming. Attesting to this fact,several studies avers that previously the herdsmen were known to wreak havoc in certain communities in Nigeria, but now the rate at which they are committing these crimes has increased exponentially. This threatens the peace, security and unity of the nation as one geographical entity and will retard growth and development in all spheres of people’s lives. In the heat of the herdsmen attacks in what has appeared to be not just recklessness but also a “religious cold war” between Muslim and Christian.Initially, Fulani violence against Christians was attributed to climate change. It has been widely reported that due to drought and the receding of pastures for their flocks, desperate Fulani migrant herders began to confiscate land on which to graze their animals. However, due to ever-increasing evidence of rampant bloodshed, outrageous brutality, and Islamist chants and declarations during attacks, the Fulani marauders’ jihadi intentions have been exposed.However it is against this backdrop that this study seek to do an empirical investigation on the menace of Fulani herdsmen attacks on Nigeria Churches.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is aimed at having an empirical investigation into the menace of herdsmen banditry attacks on Nigeria Churches. Specifically this study seek to find out the different form or ways by which herdsmen attacks their host Christain communities. The study also seek to find out if the motive behind the herdsmen attack on churches is religious. It will also investigated the frequency of herdsmen banditry attacks on Churches in Nigeria.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be relevant to the general public especially those christian communities which are facing banditry attacks by herdsmen and enlighten them on the need to be alert and self-defensive in their disposition in the absence of quick response from security agencies. This study will also be significant to security agents in Nigeria on the need to be exposed (by way of periodic training) to globally tenable practices and know-how of counter-banditry strategies.It will heighten the awareness of government on the urgent need to come up with credible and implementable policies to curb the incessant attacks on churches and christian. Finally it will contribute to the body of knowledge and give room for further studies.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is aimed at having an empirical investigation into the menace of herdsmen banditry attacks on Nigeria Churches. However the study is delimited to Kaduna South Local government area in Kaduna State.
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTION
In what ways do herdsmen attacks their host Christian communities?
Do you think the motive behind the herdsmen attack on churches is religious?
Do you think the frequency of herdsmen attack on churches is high?
What is the extent of the damages carried out by herdsmen attack on Nigeria Churches?
1.7LIMITATION OF STUDY
In the course of this study, the researcher encountered few factors that posed to be a limitation. These include financial and time constrain Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview). Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Operational Definitions
Menace:something that threatens to cause evil, harm, injury, etc.; a threat · 2. a person whose actions, attitudes, or ideas are considered
Herdsmen: Herdsmen or Fulani pastoralists are nomadic or semi-nomadic whose primary occupation is raising livestock.
Banditry: Banditry is a type of organized crime committed by outlaws typically involving the threat or use of violence. A person who engages in banditry is known as a bandit and primarily commits crimes such as extortion, robbery, and murder, either as an individual or in groups.
Church: church is a a building for public meant for Christian worship.