In the light of the unrest prevalent in the Northern part of Nigeria due to the activities of the Fulani Herdsmen, the United States Congress has accused the Nigerian Government of indifference to the lives being lost due to the Herdsmen.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chair of the House Sub-committee on Global Human Rights and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed worry at the high level of violence in the North.
He said: “Congress is watching the situation in Nigeria with growing concern, as the Nigerian government there appears too often to be indifferent to attacks by Fulani herdsmen on predominantly Christian farmers.
“The confluence of religious, ethnic, economic and political tensions is only likely to be exacerbated in the lead-up to elections next year unless President Muhammadu Buhari speaks out with a clear voice condemning the herdsmen attacks.
“We grieve with the families of those killed, including those of two priests and 17 worshipers who were buried just last week following an attack by herdsmen in Benue state in April.
“Getting the facts right on the global state of religious freedom is essential for the shaping of U.S. policy and priorities, and that is why the State Department’s annual report is so important.
“I welcome the report’s release and urge concerted action to protect this fundamental freedom.
“Religious freedom is under siege globally, challenging U.S. interests. It is no coincidence that the worst violators of religious freedom globally are also the biggest threats to our nation—those who wish to do Americans the most harm, and those who most want to tear down the pillars of democratic societies.”
The congress’ worry about Nigeria stemmed from the contents of the annual International Religious Freedom Report.
The report looked into the state of affairs in the religious landscape Nigeria.
It read in part: “Many killings occurred between farmers and herders in the central Middle Belt region, where farmers are predominantly Christians and from various ethnic groups, and herders are predominantly Fulani Muslims.
“This violence included religious differences as a factor, according to scholars and other experts, but also involved ethnicity, politics, and increasing competition over dwindling land resources as a result of population growth, soil degradation, and internal displacement from other forms of violence and criminality occurring in the north.”
The report also looked at violence of a religious nature that went on during the time of review.
It stated: “The government continued to detain the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), the country’s largest Shia group, and restrict the activities, free movement, and free association of its members.
“There were no reports of accountability for soldiers implicated in the December 2015 clash between the army and IMN members that, according to a Kaduna State government report and reports from non-government observers, left at least 348 IMN members and one soldier dead, with IMN members buried in a mass graves.”