The Janjaweed are a militia that operates in Darfur, Western Sudan, and Eastern Chad. Using the United Nations definition, the Janjaweed comprised Sudanese Arab tribes, the core of whom are from the Abbala (camel herder) background with significant recruitment from the Baggara (cattle herder) people(source: Wikipedia 2016). Since 2003, the Janjaweed has been a major player or party in the bloody conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan; fighting the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. The violent conflict killed 200,000-400,000 civilians between 2003 and 2007 with hundreds of thousands of others maimed and millions of others displaced. In 2008, the United States declared the killings in Dafur as genocide and attempts to wipe out African tribes of Darfur in Sudan. The Sudanese Janjaweed is commanded by Sheik Musa Hilal; named in 2004 by the US State Department as one of the leading Janjaweed commanders and genocide criminals in Darfur Sudan.
The worst of it all is that the Janjaweed was and is still a proxy armed opposition group fully backed by the rogue Government of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has riotously ruled Sudan since 1989 (27 years). In early 2006, many Janjaweed elements were absolved into the Sudan Armed Forces including the Popular Defense Force and the Border Guards. The riotous and rogue Government of Omar Hassan al-Bashir ensured these by creating the office of the Minister in charge of Humanitarian Affairs & Darfur; headed by Ahmad Muhammad Harun. Defying the UN Security Council’s call on Sudanese Government to disarm the Janjaweed, the UNSC later referred the Darfur civilian butcheries for the investigation and prosecution of the trio of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, principal Janjaweed commanders including Sheik Musa Hilal and Ahmad Muhamad Harun (minister in charge of Humanitarian Affairs & Darfur) by the office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC); leading to issuance of international arrest warrants to the trio on 14th of July 2008; accusing and charging them for masterminding the attempts to wipe out African tribes in Darfur through a campaign of murder, rape and deportation using and arming the Janjaweed armed opposition or proxy State actor group. Just recently, the South African Constitutional Court ruled that “President Omar Hassan al-Bashir ought to have been arrested and handed over to the ICC when he attended an AU function in the country in 2015”. President Bashir had also announced that he will step down in 2020 when his current autocratic tenure/regime ends in the same year.
The historical demystification and analysis above is to bring to the fore the ongoing replication of the Janjaweed disastrous episode in Nigeria where the country’s spy or secret police (DSS) has lately exposed the Government’s preferential treatment of a section of the country, which the DSS referred to as “Hausa-Fulani citizens” as well as treatment of those referred to as “Fulani Herdsmen” as the “untouchables”. Till date, the Federal Government of Muhammadu Buhari and its security forces have not stopped condoning, aiding and abetting the atrocities of the Fulani Terror Group (erroneously called “Fulani Herdsmen”). Most calamitous of such atrocities is ceaseless massacring and abduction of innocent Nigerians; mostly of Christian population and mainly of rural background. Most, if not all those behind the Fulani Terror atrocities in Nigeria are still on the prowl; with none under diligent and comprehensive criminal investigations in the country or any part thereof; not to talk of prosecution.
The recent investigation carried out by the public security and safety department of Intersociety clearly demystifies the pattern of violence and its application by Nigeria’s newest Janjaweed (Fulani terrorists). The summary of the investigation shows that there exists a strike force or well coordinated military wing, which is well trained and better armed; with proxy and illicit supplied small arms. It further discloses that the Fulani herdsmen as seen by ordinary Nigerians on daily basis with their herds of cattle do not, by themselves, usually carry out the killing, massacring and abduction of their innocent preys; but they provide basic intelligence, surveillance coverage and bases for their military wing to unleash their mayhem on unarmed and innocent citizens. That is to say that as they take their herds of cattle into the rain forests and southern communities; they identify their potential preys; encircle them and notify their military wing through well established and coordinated communication modes. This basic intelligence, identification of their potential preys and bases are mostly done in the day time; while armory and personnel movements and attacks are mostly carried out at night and at hours of the blue law. Hit and retreat characterizes their attacks and their weapon (small arms) depots and movements are clearly and tactically mapped out and made highly secretive.
These, at times, are known to their kinsmen in the country’s security forces, who also aid and abet; particularly in securitization areas where they are at helm of operational affairs. Sometimes security forces openly aid and abet the well coordinated massacre of unarmed and innocent Christian dwellers by Fulani Terrorists (i.e. Agatu massacre). The motive behind this well coordinated and carefully orchestrated violence is agro-ethnic and politico-religious. We also understand that an executive sponsored or proxy bill is before the National Assembly, seeking to make it mandatory or by fire by force for grazing grounds to be created in every State for the Fulani Herdsmen and their terror militancy. Executively speaking, the Governors of the country’s 36 States particularly those of the rain forests have reportedly been given a matching order by the Presidency to source for lands and earmark them for “Fulani Herdsmen”. With these and more, the Government of Muhammadu Buhari can never escape individual and vicarious liabilities for the atrocities of the murderous and butchering ethno-religious fundamentalist group (Fulani Janjaweed).
The Fulani Terror Group; Nigeria’s newest Janjaweed, has continuously spread its terror to major rain forest parts of Nigeria and other southern communities, targeting Christian population, who are mainly rural farmers. The Terror Group is now the world’s fourth most deadly terror group, according to the Global Terror Watch Index (GTWI). In 2014 alone, according to GTWI, it killed at least 1,229 unarmed citizens and in seven months of 2015 (January-July), it killed 631 unarmed civilians and between June 2015 and April 2016, it has killed over 900 unarmed civilians. In 2010, it stormed Dogo na Hauwa Community in Plateau State and massacred over 500 mostly rural Christian farmers. Just recently, hundreds of mostly rural Christians in Agatu area of Benue State were slaughtered by the Janjaweed. Till date, the Terror Group’s killing spree is yet to be abated or check-mated by Nigerian authorities. Killing of unarmed villagers and abduction of Christian missionaries by the Terror Group have continued in Enugu, Benue, Delta, etc. In all these, the Federal Government of Nigeria, led by Gen Muhammadu Buhari has notoriously exhibited its gross “unwillingness and inability” to tame the scourge. As a matter of fact, the Fulani Terror Group is now a militia arm of the Buhari administration.
The unfolding drama over the highly contentious claims by the national directorate of the DSS that “five Hausa-Fulani citizens were recently discovered to have been abducted, murdered and shallowly buried by IPOB in Umuanyi Forests in Isiukwuato LGA of Abia State, alongside other indiscriminate shallow graves containing 55 dead bodies”; is a clear attestation to the foregoing. The Government of Abia State has issued a categorical statement, debunking the claims and further informed that “neither the State DSS, nor the State Police Command or Army heard and has such report”.
With this strong denial, the onus is now on the national directorate of DSS to proof to all Nigerians and members of the international community, satisfactorily, “where, when and how 55 dead bodies including “five Hausa-Fulani citizens” were abducted, murdered and shallowly buried by IPOB in Umuanyi Forests in Isiukwuato LGA of Abia State”. The DSS bogus claims must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet. Such a statement coming from the country’s secret police, which it influenced to be aired on a number of strategic international audio, audio-visual and tabloid media like the Press TV, Aljazeera, etc; has the capacity of plunging Nigeria into unquenchable ethno-religious genocide and butcheries.
The proof being demanded from the Service, will further be accompanied by the following unresolved questions in addition to those contained in our first public statement of 10th of April 2016, which are yet to be addressed by the addressees: Are the names of “five Hausa-Citizens” exist or concocted? What is the name of the fifth person? Are there really shallow graves with 55 dead bodies in Umuanyi-Isiukwuato LGA? If they truly exist, who and what made them to exist? How do they link to “Hausa-Fulani citizens”? Are there communal clashes in the area? Have there been clashes between Fulani Herdsmen and host communities in the area? Have there been extra judicial executions in Abia State by Police, Army and Vigilante Groups and if yes, where do they dump or bury their victims? How does IPOB come into this? Who are the IPOB? Does IPOB also include possible non-State or communal actors? Does IPOB maintain camps or have bases in forests? When did the so called killing and shallow grave dumping of 55 dead bodies including “five Hausa-Fulani citizens” take place? When did IPOB group and pro Biafra agitation become locally pronounced in Nigeria to the extent they now run killer-camps in forests?
Also, the haste and urgency with which the Government of Abia State responded to the DSS infantile allegation and claims is a further attestation of the fact that in Nigeria “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others”. In other words, the sleepless concern of the Government of Abia State; likewise its Imo counterpart, is rested on the fact that “five Hausa-Fulani” citizens were mentioned in the humiliated claims of the national headquarters of the DSS. Singling out the media for attack and condemnation, leaving out the sole author of the statement (DSS) is also a height of executive jittery and cowardice; more so when the same author (DSS) has not come boldly to state how and where it was quoted out of context or misquoted by the media. The Government of Abia State saw nothing wrong in the shocking discovery of 13 murdered bodies suspected to be members of IPOB in a burrow pit in the State; discovered and witnessed by Intersociety, SBCHROs, IPOB, Amnesty International and the media; but got panic when the DSS concocted its own “five Hausa-Fulani citizens” mantra; for woefully failed purpose of labeling IPOB and Igbo Ethnic Group as “terrorist group and enclave” locally and internationally so as to plunge Nigeria into Rwandan Genocide and justify tactlessly the massacre and maiming of hundreds of unarmed and nonviolent citizens of the Southeast extraction.
Finally, we call on Nigerian leaders, politicians and security forces and their chiefs to learn from the calamitous experiences or lessons of the Rwandan Genocide and Darfur Butcheries. While the Darfur Butchery butchered 200,000-400,000 civilians in three years (2003-2006) with other extreme humanitarian catastrophes; the Rwandan Genocide massacred almost one million civilians in the three months (6th of April -23rd of July 1994) and generated millions of refugees and displaced civilians; leading to the death of more 200,000 civilians owing to starvation, hunger and diseases in the refugee camps.
This month (April) marks the 22nd anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide; perpetrated by non-State actors backed by government with deployment of instruments of hate speech, including a government run radio station that constantly promoted a genocide jingle called “operation nettoyer” (operation clean up Tutsis). The Tutsis were labeled “cockroaches” and massacred in their hundreds of thousands within three months. The root cause of the butcheries and genocide in Rwanda and to a large extent, in Burundi also rests on agro-ethnicity; with Tutsis as nomads and educated and Hutus as farmers with limited education. The rift became age-long following its ceaseless fueling by the country’s colonial and post colonial political and military actors.
The Fulani Herdsmen and their military wing (Fulani terrorists) in Nigeria, fully backed by the Government of Gen Muhammadu Buhari have become the Sudanese Janjaweed and the Rwandan Banyamulenges; all supported and backed by the Governments of the two countries (Rwandan under Gen Juvenile Habriyarimana-July 5, 1973-April 6, 1994)). Gen Habyarimana was assassinated in office during the first day of genocide on 6th of April 1994 by rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The RPF is still the seating power in Rwanda till date.
It is our stern warning that genocide and widespread butcheries are steadily looming in Nigeria and the menace of Nigeria’s newest Janjaweed; condoned and aided by the Government of Buhari, has risen to an apogee. The Government of Gen Muhammadu Buhari must disarm and stop aiding and abetting the military wing of the Fulani Herdsmen or appears to be doing same before it is too late. Citizens traditionally and excusably take up arms or resort to dangerous self help whenever they see or perceive Government to be incapable, unable and unwilling to protect their security, safety and fundamental liberties from malicious and criminal State and non-State actors.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Phone: +2348174090052
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program