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The copy of the letter which was made available to The ICIR on Wednesday was signed by 110 Nigerians across the US and 11 countries across the world.
Concerned by the death of Dennis Aduba, who was recently kidnapped and killed by suspected Fulani men on his way to catch his Lagos-Atlanta Delta flight, they implored Blinken to direct his attention to Nigeria to prevent it from sliding into another civil war.
“Secretary Blinken, the existential threat that the situation in Nigeria presents, of which the vicious herdsmen militia’s atrocities are just a part, cannot be overemphasized. It goes far beyond threats to the subregion,” part of the statement read.
They listed some instances of direct threats posed by Fulani militia to American and western allies:
“In 2017, the first US military casualties in West Africa were caused by a Fulani terrorist who killed four US Green Berets in the nation of Niger in an ambush using cows. They were Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39; Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29 and Sgt. La David Johnson, 25.
“Also in 2017, two German Archeologists were abducted by Fulani Herdsmen in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
“In 2018, four American and Canadian citizens were abducted in Nigeria’s Kaduna state by a Fulani group and only released for a ransom.
“In 2019, a British aid worker Faye Mooney who worked for America Humanitarian organization Mercy Corp was killed in Kaduna State as a Fulani group attempted to abduct her.
“In 2020, barely three months ago, US Navy Seals rescued missionary Philip Walton from Nigeria where he was hidden by the Fulani group who abducted him in Niger.
“In 2021 already, Nigerian American Dennis Abuda was killed the same week three Chinesemen were also abducted in southern Nigeria.”
The letter added that the international ramifications of these Fulani militia attacks paled in comparison to the systematic state-sanctioned murder and plunder Nigerians were going through.
The group lamented that “Hordes of Fulani militia from across the region, crisscross international borders at will, descending on innocent Christian communities in north-central and southern Nigeria and against non-Fulani Muslims and Christians in northwest Nigeria leaving a trail of death, destruction, rape, mass displacement and food shortage.”
They noted that tribal and religious tensions were at an all-time high with simultaneous protests across the south against occupation by Fulani marauders as the Fulani-dominated federal government condoned and enabled brazen impunity.
Like the US, Nigeria is a key continental power and strategic partner, but internal schisms and internecine conflicts are its greatest vulnerability and undoing.
Accordingly, the letter asked Blinken to take the situation in Nigeria as a top priority to prevent another genocide 50 years after the horrific Biafra Civil War.
It also urged him to take the issue up with Uzoma Emenike, Nigeria’s incoming ambassador to the US, while elevating this issue at the UN Security Council,
Additionally, the group urged the US to press on allies not to accept letters of credence from Nigeria’s retiring military chiefs who were recently named ambassadors ostensibly to grant them immunity from war crimes.
In 2020, the US had named Nigeria as one of the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) under its International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 as it was guilty of tolerating religious persecution, but the group noted that the country failed to implement sanctions.
“Two months ago, your predecessor acceded to our request and designated Nigeria a country of particular concern (CPC) for egregious religious persecution. However sanctions against Nigeria were waived.
“We urge the reversal of the waiver until the Fulani-dominated regime of Mjr Gen. Muhammadu Buhari shows appropriate care and concern for the safety and security of its citizens and foreign nationals who have been victimised by his tribesmen.
“Mr Secretary, the tired narrative that this is merely a contest over land by farmers and herders is debunked by all the instances of international victims listed above and should be retired. Climate change affects us all and it is no justification for the horrendous killings and displacement of thousands of people each year.”