Date: August 30, 2021
Anglican bishop laments government inaction.
By Our Nigeria Correspondent
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen killed 36 Christians in multiple attacks in Kaduna state, Nigeria this month with impunity, while a church leader complained that authorities arrested only Christians for defending themselves.
The attacks from Aug. 4 to Saturday (Aug. 28) on villages in Zangon Kataf, Kaura and Chikun counties took the lives of 17 Christians in Doh (Mado) village, five in Madamai, eight in Buruku and Udawa, three in Machun and three in Goran Gida, residents said.
The attack on Machun village, Zangon Kataf County, on Thursday (Aug. 26) took place at 7 p.m., said area resident Judith David in a text message to Morning Star News.
“Fulani herdsmen have killed three of our Christians, and five other Christians were also injured,” she said. “It rained at the time the herdsmen invaded our village. We all had already gone to houses to sleep when the herdsmen attacked the village, forcing us to flee into the bush in the rain.”
Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, confirmed the killings in a press statement.
“Police personnel responded to a distress call from Machun village and mobilized there,” he said. “On arrival, they were also alerted by gunshots from neighboring Manuka. As the assailants fled the area, the operatives found the corpses of three victims.”
The Rev. Jacob Kwashi, Anglican bishop of Zonkwa Diocese, and residents of the affected communities said the assailants were Muslim Fulani herdsmen.
In Doh (Mado) village, Zangon Kataf county on Aug. 22, sources reported 17 Christians were killed.
“My hometown of Doh (Mado) is under attack from Fulani herdsmen,” village resident Patience Bilyock said a text message to Morning Star News. “O God, arise and fight for your children.”
Kwashi, while conducting a funeral service for the 17 Christians killed in the village, said the government was doing nothing as killings continued each day in Middle Belt states.
“We have never seen an evil government in this country like the one of today. The government is fully in support of the bloodshed in Nigeria. We are being killed just because we are not Muslims,” Kwashi said. “These evil Fulani jihadists are enjoying the backing of the government to go about killing people, destroying their houses and farmlands, yet when we try to defend ourselves, the government will go about arresting our people. What kind of justice is this?”
Aruwan, the Kaduna state spokesman, said of the attack on Doh village that the assailants fled on sighting the forces of the Nigerian army. He identified nine of the dead residents as Moses Dangana, Mary Dangana, Jummai Dangana, Jerry James, Happy James, Endurance Stephen, Comfort Emmanuel, Jummai Tanko and Mary Clement.
“One resident, Magdalene Dangoma, sustained gunshot injuries and is receiving treatment in a hospital,” Aruwan said. “Two houses were razed in the attack. The troops of Operation Safe Haven also rescued 12 persons who were fleeing from the attackers. Those rescued are Patrick Chindon, Joseph Agbon, Polymer Joseph, Amos Francis, Keziah Amos, Linda Jonathan, Asabe Jonathan, Jonathan James, Lamin Yohanna, Titi Emmanuel, Patricia Michael and Jetral Bala.”
On Aug. 16, herdsmen attacked Goran Gida village, also in Zangon Kataf county. Aruwan said three residents were killed: Amos Bulus, Bulus Swam and Simon Akut. A resident identified only as Kezia was wounded, and the assailants set a car on fire, he said.
In Madamai village, Kaura County, herdsmen attacked on Aug. 15 at 5 a.m., said area resident Polycarp Bala.
“Five Christians were killed in this attack by Fulani herdsmen,” Bala said.
Aruwan identified those killed as Janet Yakubu, Gambo Yakubu, Jonathan Adamu, Mrs. Monday and Humphrey Barnabas.
In Buruku and Udawa villages in Chikun County on Aug. 13, herdsmen killed eight Christians as they worked on their farms, residents said. Five Christian farmers were killed in Buruku village and three in Udawa village, area resident John Audu said.
“We are tired of the blood being shed on a daily basis here,” Audu said. “We need help.”
On Aug. in Magamiya village, armed herdsmen wounded one Christian.
“A Christian by the name of Shedrach Yohanna was shot by the Fulani Herdsmen on his arm,” Maigamiya resident Jude Hassan said in a text message. Aruwan confirmed the attack and injury.
“Troops responded to a distress call, mobilized to the village and engaged the assailants and successfully repelled them,” Aruwan said.
Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List. In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.
In this year’s World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 the previous year.
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 recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] 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.
The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.
“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.
In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”
On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.