Nigeria: Timeline – Over 4,000 Killed in Recurrent Violence in Plateau Since 1994

There have been more than 15 major crises leading to deaths and destruction of properties in Plateau State over the last three decades

At least, 4,486 have been killed in the endless violence between different ethnic groups in Plateau State since 1994, according to PREMIUM TIMES’ findings.

Last month, another round of violence in the Mangu Local Government Area (LGA) of the state claimed scores of lives and left many other people injured. Also, properties including worship centres were razed.

The killings came after last year’s Christmas Eve coordinated attacks on some villages in Barkin Ladi and Bokkos LGAs where gun-wielding militiamen killed more than 100 locals.

After many reprisal attacks, security chiefs were subsequently summoned to beef up security in the north-central state.

A week before the Christmas Eve killings, members of the Mwaghavul and Fulani ethnic groups in Mangu targeted each other, leading to the loss of lives and properties.

Uba Rilawanu, a resident of the community, told PREMIUM TIMES that some “Fulani herders” invaded Dunwell village in search of one Edwards who they accused of rustling their cattle.

“But they did not see him, so they killed four people that night,” he said by phone, adding that some aggrieved Mwaghavul locals retaliated the attacks the following morning “razing Fulani settlements in neighbouring villages.”

Last April, a resource-based conflict between Mwaghavul farmers and Fulani herders rocked Mangu, claiming over 300 lives. Schools, farmlands, livestock, houses and other properties were lost to the violence that lasted for months.

Both parties accused each other of inviting mercenaries from other places to aid what they described as “land grabbing, forceful eviction and ethnic cleansing.”

The timeline of violence in Plateau State

There were more than 15 instances of violence that led to the deaths and destruction of properties in Plateau State. PREMIUM TIMES analysed some of these incidents [excluding attacks by Boko Haram insurgents] from 1994 till date.

In a series of violence that revolve around political, ethno-religious and resourced-based struggles, militia factions of the indigenous locals and Fulani herders have waged endless wars against each other, killing soft targets and wreaking havoc.

The Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA) archived some of the violent incidents from 1994 to 2021. Data for the subsequent years were gathered from media reports.

  • 1994: On April 12, ethnic violence broke out in Jos after the appointment of one Alhaji Mato, a Hausa-Fulani man, as sole administrator for Jos North LGA. The indigenous people of Berom, Anaguta and Afizere rejected the appointment which resulted in a violent crisis that claimed five locals.

Subsequently, the government withdrew the appointment to restore peace.

  • 1995: A prolonged land dispute turned into a full-blown conflict between Mwaghavuls in Mangu and Ron people in Bokkos communities. Many houses and properties were lost to the crisis.
  • 1997: Although there had been lingering resource-based conflict between Hausa-Fulani ethnic groups and Berom people in the state, the immediate cause of the 1997 Gyero road crisis in Bukuru, Jos South LGA was the killing of a Berom man who allegedly picked a garden egg from the farm of a Hausa-Fulani dry season farmer. About six locals were reported dead in the incident.
  • 2001: This is one of the most talked-about cases of violence in Plateau. That year, in September, there was an outbreak of hostility and mass killing in Jos. Like the incident of 1994, the ‘Jos crisis’ was ignited by political tension after “the controversial appointment” of a Poverty Eradication Coordinator in Jos North a few weeks before the crisis. Indigenous people reportedly rejected the appointment.

However, the main trigger of the crisis occurred when a young woman tried to pass through a roadblock by a Muslim congregation observing Juma’at Prayer. Apart from the destruction of properties including worship places, about 1,000 lives were estimated lost to the violence.

  • 2002: A series of violence that claimed at least 600 people that year. In May, political violence broke out between the indigenous people and Hausa-Fulani “mercenaries” who invaded a Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) ward congress in the Eto-Baba community in Jos North LGA. The violence would later escalate to Angwan Rukuba and Nasarawa Gwom, where about 100 people were reportedly killed.

The following month, another crisis rocked Yelwa, Shendam LGA, over a relationship embargo that Christians placed between their women and Muslim men. This led to a fight on the street of Angwan Pandam on the night of 26 June, resulting in the death of a Christian man. While thousands were displaced, about 500 people were reportedly killed. Houses and properties were destroyed including churches and mosques.

Also, the Wase LGA crisis which started in 2022 rolled into 2004. The violence started as a result of the killing of four prominent Taroh people who were invited to a peace meeting. They were alleged to have been killed in the centre of the city on their way back from the peace meeting. The death toll from the violence could not be ascertained.

  • 2004: In May, about 700 people, mostly, Muslims, were murdered in coordinated attacks on Yelwa in Shendam LGA and other communities in Langtang North, Langtang South and Wase area councils allegedly by “Christian militias.” The militias retaliated for the killings and sacking of Christians from the community earlier in February.
  • 2008: A crisis broke out over a local government election in Jos North and spread to other parts of the state, claiming more than 1,000 lives. The crisis was between indigenous people and Hausa-Fulanis.
  • 2010: A dispute between Christians and Muslims in the Nasarawa Gwom area of Jos North which later escalated to Jos South LGA, resulted in the death of over 400 people.

Also, over 300 people were killed in March in a cycle of attacks between indigenous people and members of the Fulani ethnic group.

  • 2011: A post-election violence pitted Muslims and non-Muslims against each other in 2011, leading to loss of lives. The violence occurred after former President Muhammadu Buhari, who contested under Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), lost to the ruling PDP.
  • 2016: There were clashes between farmers and herders in February, July and September in some parts of the state. Estimates of loss of life and property from the conflicts are not available.
  • 2017: On 14 September, a clash broke out between the Hausa and Igbo communities. The tension started brewing after a rumour of an impending attack on Igbo residents following a reported attack on the Hausa community in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Barely a month after, the doused farmers-herders crisis in the state resurfaced in Riyom LGA.
  • 2018: Among the major crises experienced in the state that year was a reprisal attack around Dura Du, a Jos South village where a high-ranking military officer, Idris Alkali, was mysteriously murdered in September.

Before and after that, there were many resource-based conflicts in some parts of the state. The violence which claimed about 57 lives continued into the following year.

  • 2020: A conflict between farmers and herders resurged in March in Riyom LGA and lingered through the year.
  • 2021: A series of crises unsettled the state in 2021. Among them were attacks and reprisals among Fulani herders and indigenous Irigwe locals in Bassa LGA, leading to 30 deaths, cattle rustling and loss of properties. Over 80 people reportedly lost their lives in recurrent clashes between Berom, other local tribes and Fulani militias in Barkin Ladi, Jos North and Riyom local councils.
  • 2022: At least 58 people were killed between January and June in seven violent attacks and counterattacks between farmers and herders in Bassa, Jos North and Shendam local councils, according to facts obtained from the Nextier Violent Conflict Database.
  • 2023: Over 400 people were killed in violent attacks and reprisals in Barkin Ladi, Bokkos and Mangu LGAs.

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