JOS, Nigeria—Half of Nigeria’s rural population in central Plateau state may face famine 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 that has been waging a sectarian war inside of Nigeria, with crop destruction serving as its latest tactic. At least 1,042 crop farms have been despoiled in the last six months, according to Solomon Dalyop, CEO of the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria, a local nongovernmental organization tracking terror attacks.
Farms growing 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.
In this video, Celina Ishaku from Zanwra in north Plateau state in Nigeria weeps over her destroyed farms, speaking in her native Hausa tongue. “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 have been ruined in separate raids since January, according to the Irigwe Development Association.
The terrorists killed two farmers in Bassa County while cutting down 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, chairman of the House Committee on Security, told The Epoch Times.
Simon Lalong, governor of Plateau state, on July 21 described the willful destruction as “callous, criminal, inhuman and wicked” and noted that the intention behind the act was to cause poverty and famine.
“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,” he said.
Kaneng Ishaya, a peasant farmer and mother of five children, 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,” 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 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.
“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.”
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 told 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.”
Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute told The Epoch Times 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 Daniel Shaga, a former governorship candidate in the northeastern state of Adamawa.
“It’s a clear sign of conspiracy between the Muslim-controlled military and the terrorists to capture more lands in Plateau state,” Shaga told 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.
“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 least 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. A crowd of 500 women staged a march south of Jos on July 14 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. Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Ali, the task force commander, denied the allegations.
This isn’t 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 Kichime Gotau, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Leadership and Governance in the United States.
“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,” Gotau told 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 of 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.”