Date:  October 21, 2023

Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Six years after a massacre of 29 Christians in a small community in Plateau State, Nigeria, residents are still waiting for justice.

At 6:00 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2017, residents of Nkiendowro Village, Miango district of Bassa LGA (Local Government Area) took refuge in the Education Authority Primary School. The Christian villagers were fleeing Fulani militants who were attacking the community. The school seemed a safe shelter as it also served as a military base for the Nigerian Army Joint Task Force (JTF) Jos.

The security guards told the villagers to hide in a classroom where they’d be protected. Thirty-one villagers took their advice, and innocently handed the guards their cell phones when asked to do so.

The Fulani militants, however, managed to get the key to the locked classroom without killing a single security guard and shot everyone inside. Twenty-nine men, women, and children were killed. Two Christians survived but sustained serious injuries.

An International Christian Concern (ICC) staffer recently visited the community on the sixth anniversary of the horrific crime. A special gathering was held at Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Nkiendonwro, northwest of Plateau State. The ICC staffer and members gathered to pray, encourage one another, and stand courageously for Jesus.

Eyewitnesses to the massacre shared their recollections with ICC.

Amandi: “When we got to the school, soldiers told us to go into a classroom. They collected all our phones, and we didn’t know why, and we did not ask them. You know, we were all running and trying to save our lives, so when they requested our phones, we just gave them without asking any questions, as we rushed to enter the classroom.

“When the Fulani [militants] entered the classroom, my friend was shouting I will die … they shot me. I just hid myself using his body to cover myself. Blood from his body splashed on me, and I pretended I was dead. I later realized I was also shot in my hand, but I managed to keep quiet. The Fulani [militants] were flashing lights on us to see if there was any survival. They were all speaking Hausa and Fulani language, saying, ‘Let us check if there is anybody alive. Let us kill that person before we go.’ But one of them said, “No, let us go, we exhausted the time given to us, we have to go.’ They carried soldiers’ uniforms, shoes, and other properties belonging to the soldiers; the militants were all barefooted. My friend and I survived the gunshot.”

Jayamma: “Around 5:30 p.m. we were all seated in the village when we heard gunshots. I was trying to run behind some children. They ran past the primary school and behind it and as I was about to do the same, one of the soldiers called me and said I should go into the classroom and that there were many of our villagers inside. So, I stopped to go in. They (soldiers) asked for my phone and they told me to go in and I did. I was looking through the door. I saw a soldier beckoning on the gunmen to go into the classroom and I managed to escape just in time before the gunmen got in.

“When I entered, I did not sit down like the others had. I was just wandering around and restless in the classroom. I had gone to the door to open it and see if I could go outside and watch what was happening when I saw one of the soldiers beckon to the Fulani [militants] that there were people inside the classroom. So, I left the door and went to the window. As I was opening the window, the Fulani [militants] had already opened the door to the classroom and they were looking at us. That was when I jumped out of the window.”

Obinna: “Soldiers asked me to follow the villagers into the classroom, but I told them I wasn’t going in there. They said if I didn’t go in, they would shoot me, so I told them to go ahead but that I wasn’t going into the classroom. So, they ordered me to go and lie down on the ground in the school compound as punishment, which I did. While lying down, I turned and saw one of the soldiers beckoning with his hand on the Fulani [militants], asking them to enter the school. The attack happened, despite a curfew being in place and when the gunmen arrived at the school, there was no soldier present. The gunmen went into the classroom and opened fire on the people, killing everybody inside the classroom.”

HOW TO PRAY: Pray for justice for all those who lost loved ones in this attack. Pray for healing in the wake of this traumatic incident. Pray for their attackers to come to know Christ.