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Stop the Genocide in the Middle Belt!

By Raimi Akegbejo, International Liaison Personnel of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard, Nigerian Section of the RCIT.

Sahara Reporters has just published an alarming report by Nigeria Mourn which states that at least 1,100 civilians were killed by armed insurgents and extrajudicially in the first quarter of the year.¹ This follows another report that puts the figures of people especially Christians and non-Muslims killed exclusively by Fulani Salafists and herdsmen in the North and Middle Belt regions at above 1,500.² The report from Nigeria Mourn states:

“bandits and Boko Haram/ISWAP operating mostly in the Northern region of Nigeria contributed to the largest number of victims with the North-Central (Middle Belt, Ed.) suffering the heaviest number of casualties with at least 331 killed recorded in the region due to mostly herdsmen activities in Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa States, while the Northeast had at least 312 casualties, followed by the Northwest which had at least 289 casualties. …Secessionists’ violent campaign mostly in the Southeast part of the country contributed 6.75% representing (at least 83 deaths) while cult clashes took 4.96% (at least 61 deaths).”

The report raises concerns especially because the number of casualties of these extremist groups in the Middle Belt exceeds that of the North East and North West. Yet, it seems that Sahara Reporters aims to strike a balance between extent of killings in the different regions of the country as the owner of the media house, former presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, is an ardent One-Nigerianist and as such his news outlet is cautious of selling any narrative that represents the events in one or some regions especially the North and the so called North Central as “special”. Even so, despite highlighting parts of the report that points at “a violent secessionist group” in the South East of killing 83 people they are forced to still admit that most massacres have occurred in the Middle Belt (North Central).

The Middle Beltan region is the new pane of raw revolutionary consciousness since this region has seen first hand and for many decades the settler colonialist expansion of the Salafist Fulani led North. Especially since the British colonised the region south of Lake Chad and the Sahel and North of the River Niger. The Middle Beltan nations represent the most ethnically diverse peoples in Nigeria and are descended from ancient Nok and Kwararafa civilisations as opposed to the Hausa Kingdoms and Sokoto Caliphate of the core-north. British colonial policy was to subject the Middle Beltan people to the Caliphate in order to make it a gendarme for the sustenance of Nigeria while at the same time using the Middle Beltan peoples as checks to the Caliphate. So upon independence despite protests and uprisings in the Middle Belt against this arrangement they were gerrymandered into the Northern Region of the First Republic.

Protests have broken out over these massacres that are becoming a daily occurrence in the region, the most popular being in Benue state where one such massacres had a staggering toll of 51 casualties.³ Zagon Kataf has equally seen renewed killings in Runji village in recent weeks where no less than 33 persons including children have been killed.⁴ Though street demonstrations seem to have receded, there are still agitations for the release of a traditional ruler of a largely Christian community in southern Bauchi.

These developments confirm once again the importance of national liberation for oppressed nations if revolutionary change must be achieved. In contrast, to those vulgar adherents to economism for whom a person is only oppressed if they are not paid a “living wage” and other labourist platitudes. We have repeatedly emphasized the nexus between national and economic oppression. It should not be too difficult to imagine that a people who are being ethnically cleansed can and will be subject to all kinds of oppression.

The weakness of the Northern hegemon has not translated to a dissolution of the settler colonialist onslaught of the core northern nations and neither a Tinubu nor Obi presidency can unravel their advance. Already as the presidential campaign raged on, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state and a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) called the Christian community of Southern Kaduna (Southern Kaduna being one of the hotbed for this genocide) “enclaves”. In fact Tinubu and Obi would have to deny or overlook the atrocities committed against their own people as down payment to head the administration of the neo-colonial state as we stated elsewhere; “As Nigeria is a neo-colonial project only that entity which serves as an imperialist proxy may survive. So Tinubu and his south western gangsters in the APC are the ones who have sold out Yorubaland for their ambition of grasping power at the center. The reason is simple, Tinubu and his band of degenerates know that to take power in Nigeria one must sell out their homeland for plunder and its people must be subjugated and destroyed.”

That is why a new bill to regulate the practice of Christianity is passing readings in the House of Assembly.⁶ The Middle Belt is passing through a phase of reawakening and historical renaissance. It is possible for fresh protests to break out in the near future over what the people are now increasingly recognising as ethnic cleansing and genocide. The tasks of revolutionaries is to combat false narratives meant to confuse the masses like christening the massacres with euphemisms such as “farmer-herder clashes” which Nigerian big media use. Revolutionaries must delineate the role the settler colonialist project plays in the grander context of imperialism and global capitalism. That capitalism in the imperialist epoch is founded on the subjugation of one nation by another and that as long as there is a small elite class of rulers there will always be those willing to sell out their people for money and power.

They must advocate for regional or communal self defence militias which operate on a program of popular armament and under the control of the toiling masses. Amotekun, the Western Security Network, has largely failed to stop the advance of the Fulani “bandits” from attacking innocents in the South West. This is due to the regusal of the South Western ruling class led in this respect by Gov. Akeredolu, to outrightly fight raiding parties because of their pecuniary interests and loyalty to the Nigerian system part of which is their patron, Tinubu’s bid for presidency. Some South Western nationalists have criticised Akeredolu for refusing to provide the Amotekun outfit with modern weapons or at least weapons which can match the firepower of the “Bandits” and kidnappers. The same can be said of the Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, who after setting up a caricature security outfit for his state broke under pressure and lifted the Anti-Open Grazing ban in the state for two-weeks as the bodies of the natives of the state piled up.⁷

Today both Benue and Ondo states have become flashpoints for Fulani herdsmen attacks and Bandits rampage. Thus control of any resistance against the bandits and killer herdsmen must not be left in the hands of the Middle Belt and Southern ruling class. Equally handicapped are the middle-class nationalists, journalists, historians, activists and civil society who subordinate the struggle for liberation to the whims and caprices of the ruling classes of the respective oppressed nations; legal/constitutional means or appeals to the UN or ICC. These set of people are full of petty-bourgeois wavering. Virtually all of them sided with one politician or the other in the last elections despite claiming to reject the constitution of Nigeria or wanting their own break-away state.

The national liberation struggle of the Middle Beltan and Southern nations must be carried out on an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist basis for genuine freedom and self determination to be realised. This means the overthrow of the moribund capitalist elite in the regions; political autonomy from Nigerian state and true independence from the Western imperialists. The prospective sovereign nations must be founded as socialist republics in the Middle Belt and South and run by a workers’ and poor peasants government.

Form Armed Self Defence Militias Based On Workers and Poor Peasant Control In the Middle Belt and South! For the Right of Return of Natives of the North and Middle Belt Displaced By Salafist Fulani Bandits, Killer Herdsmen, ISWAP, and Boko Haram!

Down with the Bill To Regulate the Practice of Christianity; the Water Resource Bill and the Bill To Criminalise Protests! Northern Workers, Progressives and Socialists Must Support the Struggle For Self Determination and Autonomy of The Oppressed Southern and Middle Belt Ethnic Nationalities!

Northern Progressives Must Join The Call For Aid and Compensation to All Victims of Herdsmen and Bandits Attacks in the Middle Belt and South. They Must Join The Call To End All Open Grazing Laws In Middle Belt And Southern States That Are Opposed To It!

Freedom, Independence and Sovereignty To All Ethnic Nationalities In the Middle Belt and South! For A Socialist Republic of Oduduwa, Biafra and Other Ethnic Nationalities in the Middle Belt and South Governed By A Regime of Armed Workers and Poor Peasants!









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