Date: February 24, 2020
Village Leader Killed, Another Injured in Nigeria
Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Wednesday, February 19, Fulani militants attacked Bang village, a border community between Taraba and Adamawa states in northeastern Nigeria. Fulani militants previously attacked Bang village approximately two years ago, causing the residents to flee. These residents lived as internally displaced persons until January 2020 when they started returning to the village and rebuilding their destroyed homes.
“We were in exile for about two years. We thought peace had returned, and people had devoted time to weaving straw fences and rebuilding their houses to settle back in the village; then they descended on us!” a local named Lazarus William narrated. “The village head was killed, and my elder brother who was with him was brutally injured.”
The village head, Alfa Yayu, who was 73 years old, was fatally shot. His close friend, Gayus Abari, 72 years old, suffered severe machete cuts to his head, shoulder, back, and legs. Fortunately, Gayus survived and is currently receiving medical care in Numan General Hospital. Still confined to his hospital bed, Gayus tried to recall the attack for ICC: “It was the Fulani herdsmen that attacked us. That day, we were in the house together with my friend who is now dead; then we heard gunshots. Though we were aged, we tried to run, but not as fast as others who were stronger. Unfortunately, my friend was shot dead. Then they caught me and inflicted several machete cuts on me. That’s all I can remember, and now I find myself in this hospital.”
The militants arrived at Bang village at about 4:00 p.m. that day and began to fire sporadic gunshots. Fortunately, most of the villagers were able to flee, but the militants burnt down approximately 10 homes and set fire to several bundles of woven straw fences. They also stole two motorbikes belonging to local villagers.
Lamenting the spate of attacks and the lack of security, the bishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria Numan, Bishop Japheth, said Bang village was left to defend itself. He stated, “Several people had returned to the village and made efforts to rebuild their homes. Between the border of Taraba and Adamawa, there are Fulani living there. Though there are some security personnel at villages on [the] Taraba side, there’s none on the Adamawa side, so the militants took advantage to strike Bang.”
With the continued Fulani militant attacks on one hand and the Boko Haram insurgents on the other, Bishop Japheth wonders what the fate of Christianity will be in northern Nigeria. He believes that many of the attackers are mercenaries brought from other countries who act in connection with local Fulani to unleash havoc on the natives, but the government doesn’t seem to rise up to confront this issue as it should. Amazingly, just hours after the attack, villagers began to return to the same village. According to Bishop Japheth who also comes from Bang, “Our people said they will not abandon their ancestral land. We will stand our ground by the grace of God!”
Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “Adamawa is unique in Nigeria. It suffers from both the Boko Haram insurgency in the North, and the Middle Belt crisis involving Fulani militants. These types of attacks have caused widespread devastation and forced many people into displacement. This is unacceptable. After a village has been attacked, the Nigerian government must help them rebuild and ensure their safety. The fact that this attack took place just weeks after members started to return to this community shows that there is no security for the Nigerian people.”
HOW TO PRAY: Pray for protection for villagers in Bang village. Pray for an end to Fulani-led violence in Nigeria. Pray for greater security measures for Nigeria’s Christian community.