We condemn all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria. We have been unable to verify reports of over 60 recent deaths in multiple incidents in Plateau State. Given religion forms a fundamental part of the identity of most Nigerians, our assessment is that religion inevitably plays a part in many clashes, including some which involve Fulani herdsmen. The British High Commissioner visited Plateau State in December 2019 and met the Governor, Christian and Muslim faith leaders, as well as Fulani communities. All highlighted the complex root cause of violence, including politicisation, ethnic tensions, and disputes over land resources. The FCO and Wilton Park conference on 'Fostering Social Cohesion in Nigeria' in February highlighted the importance of countering inaccurate media narratives misrepresenting disparate incidents as a homogenous religious conflict, and also of inflammatory terminology such as 'militia' to describe diverse ethnic groups. Urgent action is needed by the Nigerian Government to protect those at risk, bring perpetrators to justice and implement long-term solutions that address the root causes.
Humanitarian need in Nigeria is greatest in the North East where the decade long conflict with Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa has left 7.9 million people in need of assistance. The UK is the second largest donor to the North East and will be providing lifesaving assistance for up to 1.6 million vulnerable people this year as part of a five year UKAid commitment of up to £400 million. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels, the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all Nigerians.