BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – The US- Nigeria Law Group has declared that its security monitoring of atrocities in the Northeast geo-political zone, has revealed a new phenomenon of abductions for ransom by Fulani Herdsmen separate from the kidnappings by terrorists.
The group in a statement on Monday said its investigation indicates that shortly after the kidnap of several people last week, the kidnappers called and not only spoke to family members of the abductees but allowed them converse with the hostages.
The statement which was signed by its Coordinator, Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe said that following payment of ransoms, the hostages were released in less than a week.
Ogebe stressed that the above scenario is a hitherto unseen one with respect to the protracted terrorism of Boko Haram in the region, adding that not only are phone calls not allowed with family members but the prompt release of the victims known to be Christians is not the methodology of the jihadists group.
The statement further said; “Our investigation revealed that the kidnappers were admitted Fulani Herdsmen who said they had been supplied with arms and therefore took to this crime (name of supplier withheld.)
“It is to be pointed out that in their operational style, the Fulani kidnappers are similar to the terrorists.
They checked the IDs of the passengers and abducted the Christians but left the Muslims to continue on their journey.
“Boko Haram and the Fulani Herdsmen have been known to collaborate in the past. However a recent report indicated that the terrorists killed some Fulani Herdsmen and stole their cows but there have been no reprisal attacks by the Fulani unlike they do in the middle belt.
“Our prior investigations into the Dapchi school girls mass abduction showed that Herdsmen accompanied the terrorists to guide them to Dapchi. It is unclear whether the herdsmen were forced to guide the terrorists or were willing accomplices in the attack.
“While the phenomenon of Fulani Herdsmen kidnappers has plagued the Middle Belt and south of the country over the years, their emergence in the Northeast terror corridor, escalates the insecurity threat matrix to a new high.
“Citizens and humanitarian workers in addition to looking out for the terrorists are now constrained to avoid for-ransom Fulani Herdsmen kidnappers as well. It is unclear why the Herdsmen have chosen to introduce kidnappings to the Northeast amidst the situation there,” the group said.
The US-Nigeria Law Group said it has however noticed the rise in Fulani IDP camps in the Northeast – the only such camps in the country, saying that IDP camps in the Middle Belt such as Benue and Plateau states consist only of their victims thus proving these are not communal clashes but one-sided massacres.
It noted that it is possible that the recent losses of cattle to Boko Haram Terrorists caused the Herdsmen to abduct and trade in human hostages instead.
The group stated further; “The fact that, like Boko Haram, they check for IDs and target Christians shows a shared operational and theological methodology. Another possibility is that the highly lucrative, euros-denominated terrorism abduction industry attracted the Fulani kidnapping syndicate to expand to the Northeast.
“Whatever the case, for the Herdsmen to operate in the same territory of the terrorists, there must be some understanding or armistice not to attack one another.”
The US-Nigeria Law Group said that regardless, the development is a highly unfortunate in the year 2020.