The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called for an end to the ongoing violence in Nigeria. His statement comes as a new terrorist network has been discovered in the country – IS in West Africa (ISWA) – which recruits foreigners to act as Fulani herdsmen and attack local communities.
The discovery follows the arrest of a number of suspected attackers, including Fulani herdsmen, members of government-sponsored militias, militants and others in Benue State.
According to a source in the government, investigations into ISWA showed that many of those arrested were clearly foreigners as they spoke only French and did not know any of the Nigerian dialects.
Some traditional leaders in Plateau State confirmed this week that the herdsmen who were attacking their communities were foreigners.
They told a meeting on security in the state capital, Jos, that they had lived peacefully with Fulani herdsmen for decades and that the attacks started after they had left the area.
“The herdsmen now destroying our crops, burning down our houses and killing our people, are not the ones we were used to living with in the past”, one of them said, as reported by The Premium Times.
The report about the new IS branch was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari, as Archbishop Welby encouraged him to “act now to end this violence”.
I’m deeply saddened by the killings and displacements in #Nigeria. President @MBuhari and authorities are exhorted to act now to end this violence and begin mediated dialogue. I mourn with this great country and stand with them in prayer. #PrayForThePeaceOfNigeria
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) January 22, 2018
World Watch Monitor has reported on the recent spate of violence, which has seen dozens of people killed since the turn of year. In Benue State, at least 80 people have been killed and 80,000 forced to flee. In neighbouring Taraba State, at least 55 people were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen on 10 January in the town of Lau, with more lives lost in other places.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the ongoing violence and criticised the government’s inaction.
“We make bold to say that Nigeria’s security system has become dysfunctional and that this fact has been exposed by the inability of the various security arms to wrestle to the ground those threatening the existence of Christians and other innocent citizens in Nigeria,” said CAN in a statement signed by its General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake.
CAN urged President Buhari to “curb the horrendous menace of the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram, who to all intents and purposes have launched jihad in Nigeria”.
Meanwhile in London this week Nigerians marched to Downing Street, the home of the British Prime Minister, and to the Nigerian High Commission, to hand over petitions, calling for an end to the violence.