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Genocide Emergency: Nigeria

Since 2012, Genocide Watch has issued Genocide Warnings for Nigeria because of Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group bent on genocide. In fact, it has been the deadliest genocidal group in the world, with at least 27,000 murders. Boko Haram has now pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

Until 2020, Genocide Watch has said that Fulani jihadists have been carrying out "genocidal massacres." The term indicates killing based on identity, but without centralized organization.

"Genocide," like that being committed by Boko Haram, requires some organization. That's because of the Genocide Convention's requirement that the destruction of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group must be "intentional."

The questions that have paralyzed the intent requirement are: intentional by whom? And how can you prove "intent?"

If a State or an organization, however loose, like Boko Haram orders genocide, it's possible to prove intent two ways:

1. Orders from the leaders; or

2. A pattern of acts that show from their consequences that they are coordinated or connected by deliberate intent.

In the nineteenth century, Fulani jihads spread Islam across northern Nigeria, organized by the Sokoto sultanate. Hausas were forced to convert. There are now 25 million Fulani in West Africa, fifteen million in Nigeria.

Massacres by Fulani militias have killed over 2000 Christians in Nigeria since 2016. They have selectively killed Christians. That's why Genocide Watch calls them "genocidal massacres." They target members of a religious group.

Do Fulani militias have the organization necessary to prove genocidal intent?

Genocide deniers explain the massacres by Fulani Muslims against Christians as traditional herder-farmer conflicts.

But since 2000, the conflicts have become much deadlier. Fulani militias now use AK47’s and arrive in trucks. They now wipe out whole Christian villages. They only kill Christians. They leave Muslim villages and Muslims alone.

Genocide Watch considers "genocidal massacres" to be acts of genocide, and therefore "genocide." But U.S. State Department, U.K. Foreign Office, and U.N. lawyers with narrower concepts of intent require proof of coordination to prove “genocide”. They want both a systematic, widespread pattern of killings and proof of coordination.

The U.S. and U.N. need to collect evidence of coordination of Fulani jihadist groups, and evidence of connections with terrorists like Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa. We must get the proof to policy makers.

Calling the crime “genocide” makes a difference. The U.S. Congress’s and European Parliament’s resolutions that ISIS was committing genocide mobilized the military defeat of ISIS. Genocide is an action word.

There is insufficient evidence that President Buhari and the Nigerian government support the Fulani massacres. But Buhari has been a "bystander" to the genocidal massacres. His government has not done enough to stop them.

The poverty in the areas where Boko Haram and Fulani jihadists are active is desperate. But poverty and predatory expansion for grazing land are not excuses for genocide. These genocidal massacres must be stopped.

Genocide Watch considers Nigeria to be at Stage 9: Extermination.

Genocide Watch recommends:

  • A U.N. Commission of Inquiry should go to Nigeria to investigate the massacres.

  • The Commission should report to the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. Security Council.

  • Churches in Nigeria should create human rights centers to warn and report on massacres.

  • Diplomatic missions should urge the Nigerian government to take concerted action to stop the massacres.

  • Nigerian law enforcement officials should be assisted in tracking and arresting perpetrators.

  • Nigerian police and army should be trained and strictly prohibited from committing human rights violations.

  • A coordinated campaign by Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) states to defeat jihadists should be backed by the African Union, U.S., NATO, Organization for Islamic Cooperation, and the U.N.

See the full country report page here.

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