Date: September 22, 2023
Baptist pastor among the injured in attack in Nasarawa state.
By Our Nigeria Correspondent
Nasarawa state, Nigeria. (Uwe Dedering, Creative Commons)
ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen on Wednesday morning (Sept. 20) attacked a village in Nasarawa state, Nigeria, killing one Christian and wounding three others, including a pastor, an area resident said.
The herdsmen attacked Kola village, Akwanga County, at about 10 a.m., killing Amos Vonne Wakayi and wounding the Rev. Thomas Wakayi, a Baptist pastor, along with Victor Yakubu and Sunday Wakayi, said Nathaniel Lauji.
“The injured victims are currently being treated at Our Lady of Apostles (OLA) Hospital, Akwanga, a Roman Catholic health facility,” Lauji told Morning Star News in a text message.
The attack forced Christians to flee from Kola and the villages of Angre, Tabu, Nganche and Bohar, he said.
Other areas of Nasarawa came under attack earlier this year. Herdsmen on May 19 attacked the predominantly Christian community of Takalafiya, Karu County, where a pastor and 43 other Christians were killed.
On May 13, Fulani militia attacked Tattara Mada and Ngah Barau villages in Kokona County, as people were conducting a mass burial of 11 Christians killed in these communities April 16-18, said area resident Denz Bartholomew Zarme.
“Of this number, seven Christians were from Tattara Mada, and four other Christians were from Ngah Barau,” Zarme said. “The pain of the brutal attacks and the sorrow it caused was evident at the memorial service, with bereaved families and friends of those killed weeping uncontrollably.”
The burial followed a memorial service at the mortuary of the Catholic Church’s health facility in Garaku.
“Cattle herders are forcefully evicting farmers from villages by initiating deadly attacks in some areas in Kokona and part of Karu Local Government Areas (LGAs), leaving hundreds of people homeless and floating in abject poverty,” Zarme said.
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.