The United Kingdom, UK, House of Lords yesterday debated the continuing killing of innocent persons in communities by armed groups in Nigeria.
The debate concerning the killings and destruction of property was raised by Lord Alton of Liverpool who demanded to know Her Majesty’s Government assessment of situation in Nigeria.
Alton warned against genocide in the country, while recalling such concern “raised on 24 March, by the highly respected former Army Chief of Staff and Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Theophilus Y Danjuma, who stated that the armed forces were, ‘not neutral; they collude’ in the, ‘ethnic cleansing in … riverine states’, by Fulani militia.
“He insisted that villagers must defend themselves because, ‘depending on the armed forces’, will result in them dying, ‘one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop … in all the states of Nigeria; otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play’.”
Lord Alton who raised the long debate added that he would like to hear, therefore, what practical steps the UK Government were taking to work with the Government of Nigeria in developing effective solutions to bring an end to this escalating violence.
“Can the Minister tell us whether there is a strategic plan and what representations have been made directly? I know that finding solutions is complex, but there is nothing to stop the Minister calling on the Government of Nigeria to recalibrate security arrangements and to resource their forces as a matter of urgency, in order to offer sufficient protection to vulnerable communities.
“As I close, I thank the noble Lords who are participating in today’s debate and go back to where I began: to the more than 200 people, mostly women and children, who were killed in sustained attacks on 50 villages by armed Fulani militia just this past weekend. People are dying daily.
“On 18 June, the Archbishop of Abuja referred in the Telegraph to what he described as ‘territorial conquest’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ and said:
‘The very survival of our nation is at stake’.
“This alone should serve as a wake-up call. Are we to watch one of Africa’s greatest countries go the way of Sudan? Will we be indifferent as radical forces sweep across the Sahel seeking to replace diversity and difference with a monochrome ideology that will be imposed with violence on those who refuse to comply?
“We must not wait for a genocide to happen, as it did in Rwanda. Ominously, history could very easily be repeated.”