JOS, Nigeria—Half of Nigeria’s rural population in central Plateau State may face hunger next year following mass crop destruction by Fulani terrorists waging a so-called food war, which means hunger for millions.
The Fulani are a Muslim ethnic group who have been waging a sectarian war inside Nigeria, with crop destruction their latest tactic. At least 1,042 crop farms have been despoiled in the last six months, according to Mr. Solomon Dalyop, Chief Executive Officer of Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN), a local non-governmental organization tracking terror attacks.
The farms of ripe corn, potatoes, and vegetables, spanning more than 5,210 acres were cut down by machete under moonlight by terrorists in four counties, Dalyop told The Epoch Times by phone.
In this video, Celina Ishaku from Zanwra in north Plateau State in Nigeria weeps over her destroyed farms, speaking in her native Hausa. “We have no one except God, God have compassion on us! Nobody cares about us! We are suffering without food, yet our farms are destroyed, We are left as widows, our children killed, and Fulani are destroying our land.” (Lawrence Zongo)
In Bassa County, 15 miles west of Jos, more than 700 farms valued at $4,860,000 were ruined in separate raids since January, according to the Irigwe Development Association (IDA).
The terrorists killed two farmers in Bassa County during the cutting down of the crops, according to Peter Gyendeng, a state legislator. “One was killed in Ancha village, the same day the state governor issued a statement condemning the destruction, and the second was killed yesterday [July 26] when I led the State House of Assembly members on a tour of the affected villages,” Gyendeng, the Chairman, House Committee on Security told The Epoch Times by phone.
The Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, on July 21 described the willful destruction as “callous, criminal, inhuman and wicked,” and intended to cause poverty and hunger.
“This is a carefully planned and executed act that is not only meant to provoke crisis, suspicion and instability in the area, but also to render the victims poor and hungry,” said Mr. Lalong in a press release.
Mrs. Kaneng Ishaya, a peasant farmer and mother of five, said her seven small farms were despoiled in one night, ruining her hopes of giving her children quality food and education.
“I spent my entire savings to cultivate those farms, hoping to feed and sponsor my children to return to school after two of them dropped out the last two years for lack of funds, but the Fulani destroyed everything,” Mrs. Ishaya said.
More than half of Plateau’s 3.5 million people in rural areas risk famine in a few months, according to former Army Major and economic consultant Mr. Gabriel Ad’Ofikwu.
“What this means is—this season there will be no food to be harvested. There will be no income to the farmers. In the near future, famine stares the people in the eyes,” Ad’Ofikwu told The Epoch Times by phone.
“The functioning economy of Plateau State is crop agriculture. This agriculture is 85 to 90 percent seasonal, based on the natural raining season.
“If 85 to 90 percent of these crops are cultivated in the rainy season, and evil minded individuals cut them down prematurely, just when they are nearing harvest at the close of the rainy season, it is evident there is a desire to snuff out the life in the people—because this is food war, and food war is a major deciding factor in any armed conflict,” Ad’Ofikwu said.
The crop destruction chiefly affects survivors of previous lethal attacks, according to Mark Lipdo, founder of Stefanos Foundation in Jos. Lipdo calls it a “modified Jihad” on the predominantly Christian villagers.
“They attacked these farmers who are predominantly Christians, killed their family members, burnt their houses and food barns and forced them to stay in uninhabitable, internally displaced persons camps,” Lipdo said to The Epoch Times. “Most of these camps closed down due to food shortages, and the farmers have gone to squat with relatives in other communities to start life all over again, and now they have followed them with a modified Jihad, probably because they seem to have not achieved their targets of eliminating the people using guns and other weapons,” Lipdo said.
Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute told The Epoch Times in an earlier interview that the Fulani are conducting “a ruthless demographic conquest of vast areas of the country, in which the presence of other ethnic and religious groups is targeted for eradication, and their communities, at least in part, destroyed.”
Allegations of Complicity
Most of the despoiled farms are located near military stations, according to a former Governorship Candidate in the northeastern State of Adamawa, Mr. Daniel Shaga. “It’s a clear sign of conspiracy between the Muslim-controlled military and the terrorists to capture more lands in Plateau State,” Shaga said to The Epoch Times.
“Terrorists are operating on the fringes of one of the biggest army cantonments in Nigeria [Maxwell Khobe Military Base, headquarters of Nigerian Army 3 Division located in Bassa], freely killing the locals, terrorizing them and putting fear and flight in their mind with the ultimate aim of doing what they did [taking land] in Mahanga [village] and other parts of Riyom [County], in Barkin Ladi and Bokkos [Counties] which leaves questions on the reliability of our security,” Shaga said. “No single Fulani killer has been arrested and prosecuted. I hear some of them live inside the barracks and have support of some of the soldiers.” At minimum, 20 acres of Shaga’s corn farms in Plateau State were despoiled last month, he said.
Hundreds of women and children have marched on highways to vent their frustration. As reported in Epoch Times, a crowd of 500 women on July 14 staged a march south of Jos accusing Operation Safe Haven, a local military Task Force, of conspiring with terrorists. The protests followed the shooting of unarmed civilians by men in military camouflage in Riyom County. Major General Ibrahim Ali, the Task Force Commander, denied the allegations.
This is not the first time the military has been accused by citizens of complicity with terrorists in Plateau State. On March 11, 2010, thousands of women marched to protest the killing of more than 500 farmers in Dogon Nahawa village, 15 miles southeast of Jos, the Capital of Plateau State.
In a similar protest on Jan. 31, 2011, thousands of women carried placards demanding the withdrawal of the military from the State following alleged State-assisted killings.
Military complicity, however, is partly a result of governance failure, according to Mr. Kichime Gotau, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Leadership and Governance, USA. “Both the political class and military elite corps have failed this nation. When you find the military compromising, it is usually in collusion with the politicians and government officials in particular,” said Gotau in a voice mail to The Epoch Times.
The crises in Nigeria have “overarching effects” on international peace and security, said Rev. Dr. Gideon Para-mallam, a former International Deputy Director, The Lausanne Movement, a U.S.-based missionary organization.
“When these attacks are allowed to continue and to expand with the increasing land-grab currently being witnessed in some parts of the Middle-Belt, I am afraid the entire country could soon be swallowed up,” Para-mallam told The Epoch Times. “And refugees from one State in Nigeria could overwhelm the whole of Ghana and Kenya and that could have serious implications for peace and economic stability at the international level, and even the probability of these conflicts spreading to other countries.”