Johan Viljoen, Reabetswe Tloubatla
25 August 2023


In this week’s report, there is a continuation of violence in the southeast region of Nigeria, with more Fulani militia flooding into the area. We also see a report of the death of troops, some in conflict, and some in what seems to be a mechanical failure of their helicopter. We underline the impact of the violence in the southeast of the country, creating more IDPs in the region.

The deluge of attacks on communities in Benue state is never-ending, with even more attacks in the last week. This is apparently due to the ease of movement of Fulani extremists who sneak into the country through very porous borders. “Even the federal government has admitted that these are foreign terrorists from Niger Republic, Libya, and other places but nothing is being done about it. Their mission is simply to kill and take over communities. They come from faraway places, including foreign countries, and all they want is to turn the villages into their own. Over 50 villages have been captured so far in one local government area alone in my constituency,” says Mr. Simon Mwadkwon, a member of the Nigerian Senate representing a district in the Plateau state. Mark Gbillah, a member of the House of Representatives from Benue state, says Muslim authorities in the country are refusing to engage military actions against the terrorists because their violence fits into their agenda of imposing an Islamic regime. “They are seeking to replicate what they have started in places like Kaduna all over the country- setting up their own governments across communities towards converting Nigeria into an Islamic state.” On 14 August, in Gban, an attack took place. This attack happened just days after a mass women’s protest against the violence, to end the attacks, led by Ms Jennifer Aondohemba Godwin, whose own husband was a casualty of the violence. The protest took place on the 11th of August after five people were killed in Gban and Hinyan the night before. “I don’t feel safe anymore. Even soldiers are fleeing from the attacks. Some of us were still around the protest venue around 2 p.m. when they started shooting, and both the soldiers and civilians were running. We have soldiers all over the villages, but attacks still happen, and nothing is done about it. That was why we decided to carry the corpses of those our people who were killed and laid them on the highway to say, ‘Enough is enough!’ Our farms have been taken over. Our homes are no longer safe. We can’t even walk to the next village without the fear of being attacked. But despite all of our cries, the attacks have not stopped.” Christopher Waku, security advisor to the Guma County chairman, Mike Nyieakaa, said the protest was the culmination of anger and grief and frustration from the community; “even as we speak, we don’t know what will happen in the next few hours. Every day there must be one incident or the other it is whether they are destroying crop farms, or they are setting ambushes for people.” Although the Fulani are a large ethnic group, comprising more than 10 million, they were traditionally known for being herders and agriculturists, however, in the recent past, they have become notorious for clashes against indigenous people, especially in the southeast of Nigeria, with an estimated 60 000 killed in recent years. “We don’t know where they come from and we don’t know what they want but all we know is that they are killing our people and taking over villages,” says Mr Waku. Muhammadu Buhari, speaking to the Archbishop of Canterbury says- “The problem is even older than us. It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.”


37 members of the Nigerian army were ambushed by bandits on 13 August. A statement released by the attackers claimed responsibility. “Here are dead bodies of Nigerian soldiers who launched an attack on us, intending to eliminate us and bring Dogo Gide to an end. But by the grace of almighty Allah, Dogo Gide is still alive. And he will never die. Here are soldiers lying dead. See them, and their aircraft. So repent. Repent we don’t have problems with anyone except those who attack us. Look at this aircraft by the grace of almighty Allah, it was an AK47 rifle that brought it down. Look at them all dead. You all should repent and understand. It is not our wish to kill anyone. It is our desire that everyone repents and fears Allah. The politicians who are always sending these ones to be killed should repent and fear Allah.

“For us, we will not retreat or surrender because of fighter jets or anything. And Dogo Gide whom they are aiming to kill will never die. Just look at these ones it was with these AK47 rifles that they brought this aircraft down. They just held fire on it as the aircraft was coming. The soldiers were shooting. We were also shooting and suddenly the aircraft went down. So repent and fear Allah.” Dogo Gide presents himself as a Salafist, an insurgent, as do many of his fellow insurgents, which numbers reach about 200 local gangs, ranging from the eastern border, reaching to Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, and Katsina states. Continuing with his rant, Dogo Dide says, “So repent. Repent we don’t have problems with anyone except those who attack us. Look at this aircraft by the grace of almighty Allah, it was an AK47 rifle that brought it down. Look at them all dead. You all should repent and understand. It is not our own wish to kill anyone. It is our desire that everyone repents and fears Allah. The politicians that are always sending these ones to be killed should repent and fear Allah.”

On 13 August, bandits in Rafi County attacked a group of troops, killing 26 soldiers. This is according to a confirmatory statement by army spokesperson Onyema Nwachukwa on 15 August. “I can confirm that there was an incident in Wushishi [county] of Niger state. Our Gallant patriots paid the supreme price when they ran into an ambush staged by insurgents. They were courageous till the end. They stood their ground and defended our great country with their lives.” In another incident on 14 August, 11 soldiers were killed and 7 were wounded after an evacuation helicopter picked them up. “The helicopter crashed at about 1 pm near Chukuba village in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state,” according to Nigerian Airforce spokesman Edward Gabwet. “The evacuation relief departed Zungera Primary School en route to Kaduna but crashed near Chukuba village for unknown reasons. The helicopter likely went down as a result of mechanical failure or because of the load,” dispelling rumors that it was shot down by bandits, even though the incident happened in an area of heavy fighting. Two other helicopters were dispatched from the local base in Kaduna to investigate the crash and they found the site was within a stronghold of the terrorist group Boko Haram, and insurgents moved freely in the local area. Chief of Army Staff, General Taoreed Lagbaia, led a force of 34 armored vehicles and 250 soldiers to Shiroro to retrieve the bodies of the fallen Nigerian soldiers. “The bandits asked for permission to set an ambush for the army group heading to the scene of the crash, but Dogo Gide ruled against it, telling them military would come with overwhelming force.”


This past week, there have been multiple attacks on civilians by soldiers in Mangu Local Government Area, Plateau State. Reports claim that a group of citizens, some of whom are displaced victims of previous local attacks, gathered at the military operating base in Mangu, expressing displeasure over the late-night attack that had claimed the lives of four residents in Nchiya village at 11 p.m., Sunday night. Soldiers responded to the protestors using aggression, firing on them, killing two, including running over and fatally wounding John Tanko, a civilian. According to eyewitnesses, on arrival, soldiers who were armed with assault rifles and other weapons, including two anti-aircraft guns and an armored vehicle, chose not to follow the terrorists, who were firing weapons as they continued their escape into the nearby mountains. However, instead of properly following them, they disarmed local civilian guards who were attempting to fight back, in an attempt to allow women and children to escape.


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