Date: September 18, 2023
In four years, 23 pastors slain in Kaduna state, church leader says.
By Our Nigeria Correspondent
Sultan Bello Mosque in the city of Kaduna, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Anasskoko, Creative Commons)
ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen on Friday (Sept. 15) killed 15 Christians in southern Kaduna state, Nigeria, sources said.
The attack on Dogon Noma village, Kajuru County came amid disclosure that such attacks have led to the death of 23 pastors and the closure of 200 worship buildings in Kaduna state in the past four years.
Besides taking 15 lives, the assailants also kidnapped 32 Christians from Dogon Noma village, area residents said.
“Fulani herdsmen surrounded the village in their hundreds, shooting anybody in sight; the attack occurred at about 7 a.m.,” David Musa told Morning Star News in a text message. “Pray for Dogon Noma community.”
Moses Ishaya said he lost two relatives in the massacre.
“It is with a heavy heart that I notify you about an attack on our community, Dogon Noma village, by Fulani herdsmen on the morning of Friday,” Ishaya told Morning Star News in a text message. “The attack has resulted in the killing of two of my family members, who include our sister from Karamai village, who got married at Dogon Noma village, and the second victim, the daughter of my relation, Mr. John Zango.”
He identified other Christians killed as Bala Laya and Gimbiya Coaster. Among others kidnapped, he named three abducted as Set Alkali, Saviour Christopher and Sico Nicholas.
Ernest Maidawa, a youth leader in the area, urged government officials to urgently take action.
“We are saddened with these renewed acts of attacks and gruesome killings of innocent Christians in Dogon Noma community by Fulani herdsmen,” Maidawa told Morning Star News in a text message. “We are urging law enforcement agencies as a matter of urgency to check the spate of these attacks on innocent Christians in our communities. Governments both at state and federal levels in Nigeria must also be seen to be doing more as they have not shown capacity in their core mandate and responsibilities to protect lives and properties.”
On Tuesday (Sept. 12), Christian leaders in Kaduna state met with police officials in the city of Kaduna and advised them that attacks by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists have resulted in the killing of 23 pastors, the abduction of 215 Christians still in captivity and the closure of 200 church worship buildings in four years.
The Rev. Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and Christian leaders from 23 Local Government Areas told Kaduna State Commissioner of Police Musa Garba and other senior officers that Christians have faced fierce persecution.
The meeting between Christian leaders and police officials was held at Albraka Baptist Church in the city of Kaduna. The purpose of the meeting was to strengthen the relationship between the police and Christian leaders, and for police to listen to their challenges and together find solutions, Garba said.
“Security is the responsibility of all and not only that of the government,” Garba told the Christian leaders. “While the government takes the lead in the protection of lives and property, individuals are also expected to play their parts, particularly in the area of providing information.”
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.
In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.
“Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery,” the WWL report noted. “This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation… Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”
Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a 2020 report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.