vigilantes of nigeria
A generations long battle over territory between herders and farmers in Central Nigeria has escalated exponentially with more than 1,000 deaths since January 2018. Growing animosity between ethnic groups coupled with lack of security has fomented this increase in violence in recent years. Inaccurate and bias reporting by local media has created a public frenzy against the predominantly Muslim Fulani herders. This media fervor encourages people to call the crisis a religious war against the mainly Christian farmers and to politicize the crisis ahead of next
Despite the divisive chaos engulfing the Middle Belt, a small group of multi-ethnic men, including those from the clashing Fulani and Berom (largely Christian) tribes have joined together to form the ‘Vigilante Group of Nigeria’. Together they are intermediaries for all victims—no matter their creed—as trust between different ethnic groups and security forces is non-existent. These men, who have received training and equipment from Nigerian security forces, are a prime example that all ethnicities and religions can work together to find peace countering dangerous narratives that have engulfed not only Nigeria, but also the world.
The current crisis reflects the country’s woes from over-population, poverty, and climate change to religious division and ethnic favoritism. In partnership with the Washington Post, I'll report with Africa Bureau Chief, Max Bearak, on community-led initiatives, such as the Vigilante Group, that are fighting the divisive rhetoric threatening an already fragile Nigeria. This story is timely due to scheduling and presidential elections in February 2019.
(This report was possible with the support of the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting)