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Nigeria's Senate summons President Buhari over church killings

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been summoned by the Senate over a spate of killings in the country's middle ...

Posted: Apr 27, 2018 1:51 PM
Updated: Apr 27, 2018 1:51 PM

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been summoned by the Senate over a spate of killings in the country's middle belt.

The lawmakers are yet to set a date for the president's appearance but said violence in Nigeria's central states could lead to "serious crisis" in the country.

"We all know that the dimension this is taking can lead to serious crisis in this country. It means we need to take drastic action. We must say 'no'. These daily killings, have to stop," said Bukola Saraki, Nigeria's Senate leader.

Members of the country's lower parliament who had invited the President Wednesday also passed a vote of no confidence in service chiefs and security advisers, calling for their dismissal over their inability to protect Nigerians.

The lawmakers said could no longer watch "our people are murdered in cold blood" and urged government to increase security measures in affected areas.

"We also resolved to summon the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces President Muhammadu Buhari in order to answer pertinent questions concerning what the Executive is doing to put a decisive end to the spate of killings in different states of the Federation," said Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives.

Buhari's media aide did not immediately respond to CNN's request for a comment.

The president is currently on a two-day working visit to Bauchi State, in north central Nigeria, where he is commissioning road projects and an air force medical facility, according to local media reports.

In the latest wave of violence to hit the middle belt region in recent months, two priests and 17 worshippers were killed Tuesday when armed men attacked a Catholic church during early morning mass in a remote village in Benue state.

The attackers razed over 50 houses in an attempt to take over the community, state police said. State police spokesman Terver Akase told CNN the attackers were thought to be Fulani cattle herdsmen,

Bello Bodejo, head of the cattle herders association, Miyetti Allah, denied the group's involvement in the attacks.

He called on the police and security agencies to investigate and reveal the identities of the attackers to put an end to speculation about his group's involvement.

"We are condemning Tuesday's attack because it is not acceptable. But we want a thorough investigation because every time there is an attack in the middle belt, they say it is Fulani people that caused it," he said in a phone interview with CNN.

"Many Fulani herdsman are not educated or organized enough to speak out against these accusations and this is why socio-cultural organizations like ours are appealing to Nigerians to assist us to get to the root of these attacks."

The violence between the Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslims, and farmers, who are predominantly Christians, in the central state dates back to 2013. According to the Global Terrorism Index, Fulani extremists killed over 2,500 Nigerians between 2012 and 2016.

Cattle herders have evicted farmers by initiating deadly attacks in Nigeria's middle belt, the report from the Institute for Economics & Peace, a non-profit think tank, said.

The expanding conflict between herders and farmers in the region led to the enforcement of anti-grazing laws by local governments , a move that has exacerbated tensions in affected states.

At least 72 people were killed in January following weeks of violence between nomadic herdsmen and farmers in the central part of the West African country.

Buhari, who is ethnically Fulani, has been widely criticized by Nigerians for his perceived silence over previous attacks in Benue state.

He visited the state in March to console families and communities involved and has vowed to bring those responsible for Tuesday's attack to justice.

"This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable. Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting," Buhari said in a tweet.

International Christian rights organizations have also spoken out about what they see as persecution of some Nigerians because of their faith.

David Curry, president of Open Doors Christian Rights group, condemned Tuesday's attacks and stated that Christians are being targeted in north and central states in Nigeria.

He urged US President Donald Trump to discuss these "religious attacks" during his meeting with Buhari later this month.

"President Buhari has done nothing more than issue empty words of condolence as villages have been burned and thousands of religious minorities have been slaughtered. His inaction has meant attacks by the Fulani are becoming more deadly and sophisticated," Curry said in a statement Wednesday.

Buhari will meet Trump in Washington April 30 to discuss ways of combating terrorism, promoting economic growth among other issues.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 294091

Reported Deaths: 6669
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19626230
Hinds18745386
Harrison16618278
Rankin12662264
Jackson12509224
Lee9679160
Madison9432199
Jones7928146
Forrest7184136
Lauderdale6813226
Lowndes6017137
Lamar586880
Lafayette5721113
Washington5205130
Bolivar4604122
Oktibbeha440693
Panola428893
Pearl River4144129
Warren4124113
Pontotoc408469
Marshall401892
Monroe3982126
Union394974
Neshoba3782168
Lincoln3508100
Hancock343874
Leflore3367118
Sunflower317686
Tate301774
Pike299795
Scott293170
Alcorn291261
Itawamba289374
Yazoo287962
Coahoma277367
Tippah276765
Copiah276357
Simpson273878
Prentiss269558
Leake252271
Wayne252241
Marion251978
Covington248478
Grenada246677
Adams233877
George231245
Newton227552
Winston221475
Jasper212945
Tishomingo211965
Attala206269
Chickasaw200951
Holmes181770
Clay178550
Stone171929
Tallahatchie170439
Clarke169171
Calhoun157528
Smith152531
Yalobusha143737
Greene127433
Walthall123640
Noxubee122829
Montgomery121838
Perry121534
Lawrence119621
Carroll118124
Amite111232
Webster110230
Jefferson Davis101531
Tunica98923
Claiborne98129
Benton93324
Humphreys92527
Kemper89723
Quitman77114
Franklin75919
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62326
Jefferson62027
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 492683

Reported Deaths: 9930
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson709061374
Mobile36044725
Madison32355455
Tuscaloosa24093410
Montgomery22536501
Shelby21892215
Baldwin19714283
Lee14950153
Morgan13641251
Calhoun13232286
Etowah13163319
Marshall11250209
Houston10073261
Elmore9371185
Limestone9353134
Cullman8891181
St. Clair8813223
Lauderdale8594211
DeKalb8441175
Talladega7511163
Walker6514255
Jackson6487102
Autauga624891
Blount6095127
Colbert6000118
Coffee5238102
Dale4637107
Russell403930
Franklin398977
Covington3953106
Chilton3868100
Escambia377272
Tallapoosa3581142
Clarke343650
Chambers3406110
Dallas3401141
Pike293272
Lawrence282684
Marion281695
Winston246567
Bibb244960
Geneva239070
Marengo235355
Pickens224454
Barbour211351
Hale209468
Fayette200256
Butler195666
Henry182241
Cherokee176838
Monroe166139
Randolph163640
Washington156435
Crenshaw144354
Clay143854
Macon141743
Cleburne137339
Lamar132533
Lowndes130851
Wilcox121625
Bullock116736
Conecuh106724
Perry105527
Sumter98331
Coosa88823
Greene87532
Choctaw55023
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