Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) By our Nigerian Correspondent — Boko Haram has been carrying out vicious attacks against Christians communities mainly in the southern part of Borno State and northern Adamawa State. Christians constitute 85% of the population in these areas. Scores of victims and eyes witnesses spoke with VOP’s Nigerian Correspondence who recounted that the latest attacks as aimed at destroying Christian communities.
According to some of the IDP (internally displace people) camp officials, there are over 4,000 Christians in an unofficial internally displaced camp in Lassa from 17 Christian communities in Borno and Adamawa States. These communities include, Bdagu, Ngurhengwal, Yaza, Kwang, Multafu, Pambam, Emmi, Kelekasa, Shawa, Maikdadri, Kummaza, Nkirvu, Yaffa, Huyum, Bagajaw, Izge and Wassada. Residents are predominately Christian who are members of Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), ECWA, Redeemed Church of God, and the Catholic Church. “We have nowhere to go”, a witness said.
These communities depend on seasonal farming as a major means of income, while others rear animals, sell craft work or petty trading for survival. They’ve suffered perpetual attacks with great losses, including their homes, from the Boko Haram since 2013. Many have been gunned down, slaughtered and abducted since the Islamic militants began terrorizing the region.
Fleeing residents and Christian leaders are extremely concerned with the rise of recent attacks by the armed group. Within a week, the militants raided, Kuda-Kaya, Diambo, Makalama, Yimirali-Autlha, Yimirali-Barka, Yimira Kopa, Gatamarwa,- Maik-dadri and Multafu villages killing scores of people, took their food and belongings then set their homes ablaze.
Interview with residents of 2 Christian communities recently attacked:
Maikadiri Village Attack:
Those from Maikadiri are predominantly farmers with over 70% Christians who worship with denominations such as Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), Deeper Life Bible Church (DLBC) and Catholic Assemblies. The village is located in the Uba Local Government Area of Borno State.
Boko Haram attacked Maikadiri village on March 18, 2019. They went through along Lassa settlements killing 2 people and abducted many others on their way back to hideouts in the Sambisa Forest.
One eye witness who narrowly escaped shared his experience with our correspondent.
“Using a robe, they tied my hands behind my back and killed the two others in front of me. Once they identify you as Christian, they don’t waste time and butcher you with knife”, he added. Their attention was drawn from me when the Lassa security forces started shooting from afar. I quickly crawled on my stomach for some distance then ran into a bush and escaped.
A church leader who spoke with VOP’s correspondent commended the effort of the Lassa security forces who ambushed the insurgents. They exchanged fire with the militants and many of the Boko Haram members were killed. The security force also seized 3 of their cars and 5 motorcycles.
After the military left the community, the Boko Haram returned for a revenge mission on March 26, 2019. They assumed the villagers collaborated with the military to ambush them, so they burned down the entire village. The community members lost everything they owned. It was also dangerous for them to stay within the region without military protection. With no other choice, they moved to the unofficial IDP camp as a result of the dire security challenges.
On March 22, 2019, an armed group of Boko Haram rode into Multafu village on motorcycles and bicycles around 7p.m.and started shooting. Two Christians were killed in the presence of their family members.
A villager told Voice of the Persecuted, “They went straight to the Church of Brethren of Nigeria (EYN) and burned it to ashes while chanting “Allahu Akbar.” They also looted food then burned down 7 Christian homes.
During the attack the insurgents caught a fleeing woman with her 2 daughters. They let her to go but started to leave with her daughters. The woman quickly made up a story and claimed that one of her daughters was married. Not wanting any married women, they left the one thought to be married and sadly abducted the other one. One victim told VOP that the Boko Haram used the abducted girl’s mobile phone after they left. The caller stated, “We are coming back to take more girls, food and burn the houses.”
After hours of operations, the militants looted food items and left at their own convenience. Security forces within area refused to respond even when they were called at the beginning of the attack. “We no longer have hope in the security forces, we knew they would never come,” said a community leader.
Unfortunately, on March 24, 2019,the Boko Haram came again as promised. With the cover of night and no security forces around to repel the attack, they traveled through the same towards the village. They interrupted church services taking place, killed 3 men and set the whole village on fire. Witnesses claim they did their operations calmly and stayed in the village for some days.
“We thought the insurgents had left, so we went back to the village to bury our dead. To our surprised, they were still in the village waiting to ambush us on our return,” said a witness.
“I have told security forces several times, but they refused to show up” a clergyman shared. They took up courage with the help of a vigilante group and a few security forces to retrieve the bodies of the murdered members of the community. The militants engaged them and after much pressure, they were finally able to gather the remains and bury them.
Analysis of Security Challenges
- Since the displacement of people beginning with Boko Haram attacks in 2013, victims have been battling with insecurity in their region. The security formations and installations have proven to not be enough for both Adamawa and Borno states.
- Security forces don’t respond to attacks in adequate time and in some instances don’t respond at all.
- Residents have been forced and often encouraged by local government to form their own vigilante groups to protect their communities.
- In 2017, when they wanted to regain their communities from the Boko Haram. They selected community members as delegates to approach the Borno State government to help with a security installation to liberate their communities. The government refused to act.
- Residents met with the former Caretaker Chairman, House of Assembly member and political stakeholders but VOP was told, “They deceived us by saying they would look into the matter but then deliberately refused. A community member said, “We believe the inaction occurred because we are a Christian community.” Later, they and concluded to hire the service of a local vigilante group to partner with their Christian youth to liberate their communities. “We had initial meetings with Muslims including Fulani herdsmen within the community, but to our dismay they betrayed us by withdrawing from the process.” We contributed between (N1000 –N2000) per household and called on some of our brethren based in the cities to send their contributions as well. We gathered around N700, 000 and approached the Vigilante leader at Gombi Village.
- In that same week, a government delegation from Yobe State came to the same vigilante leader for the same job. Out of sympathy, he agreed to our request and decided to offer 30 trained vigilantes to be paid every month at a sum of N30, 000 each.
- They stayed for 3 months and we spent a total amount of N6, 000,000.00 on their salaries and feedings. They worked hard, chased away the Boko Haram from our communities and gave us access to farming and other normal activities,
- While we were enjoying the peace process, the insurgent had renewed strategies and used the herdsmen around the region and massively attacked the vigilante group and killed the leader. After that, they chased the Christians from their communities.
Challenges and Needs
- We want to go back to our communities we need security so that we can start faming to feed ourselves; the government is not doing anything to help us.
- There is no good school for our kids; public school is inadequate for learning and prone to abduction at any moment. Although there is EYN private school, they charge N3,200 as tuition fee and it’s not affordable to most of us.
- We need medical attention, spiritual reading materials and prayers to stand in these moments of trial and persecution.
VOP Note: Please keep praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Multiple attacks have taken place since this update.
Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christian brothers and sisters experiencing brutal persecution.
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. They will not be forgotten!
We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
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Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen ambushed and killed a 26-year-old Catholic on Thursday (May 2) in north-central Nigeria and two other Christians in the same manner on April 27, sources said.
After a herdsmen assault in March 2018 that left 27 Christians dead in the predominantly Christian community of Dong village north of Jos, assailants on Thursday (May 2) killed David Musa, 26, at 5:25 p.m., said Nuhu Ako, 42-year-old Christian youth leader at the area’s St. Monica’s Catholic Church.
“We heard the sound of gunshots around the stream west of Dong village, where you’re now talking to us,” Ako told Mornning Star News. “We rushed there to find out what happened and found again the killing of a member of our community.”
As Muslim Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Dong and Nzehrivoh villages for two years, Ako and other Christians suspect they are behind the slaying of Musa and the April 27 killing of Sunday Adi, 45, and Jonathan Joseph, 29, at 7:25 p.m. on that Saturday.
“We were returning to Dong village after the day’s work at Nzerivoh village, our former village where we were displaced last year, and we heard gunshots,” he said. “We decided not to proceed with our movement and remained where we were. A few moments afterwards, two people riding on a motorbike came to where we were and told us that they saw two corpses not far from the spot where were standing.”
The Christians went to the site and found the two bodies, he said.
“We immediately phoned soldiers of the Special Task Force (STF) and informed them about our findings,” he told Morning Star News. ‘They told us to wait for them at the spot. We waited for them and they never showed up. We left the spot and returned to our homes at Dong, until the following morning, which was Sunday, 28 April, before the soldiers came to the spot and left without picking the two corpses.”
Adi, member of a Catholic church, was buried in the now desolate Nzehrivoh village. Joseph, a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), was buried in Dong village, Ako said.
He said armed Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Christian residents of Dong and Nzehrivoh villages for the past two years for no reason.
“We are farmers and have not been able to continue with our vocation because of these attacks,” he said. “We and our elders and church leaders have met several times with these herdsmen to understand what is prompting them to attack us without finding any real reason for such acts against us.”
Herdsmen leaders have often assured villagers that “they would impress it on their people to end such attacks on us, but it appears they only do this in order to perfect their plans to attack us the more,” he said.
The herdsmen have destroyed Nzehrivoh village, west of Dong, Ako said.
“The destruction of our houses was carried out right in the presence of soldiers who were brought to the village to protect us,” he said. “Instead, we have been forced to escape to Dong community, and here, too, the herdsmen are now attacking this community. We do not know where to run to since the whole of this area is under attack.”
On April 29 soldiers stationed in Nzehrivoh were evacuated, and the following morning, herdsmen went to the village and burned down the few houses remaining there, he said.
Kadzai Prince Peter, a Catholic catechist of St. Augustine’s church in Jos, said Christians have tried to forestall attacks by welcoming the Fulani herdsmen.
“We have tried to embrace all these Fulani people, to live with them,” Peter told Morning Star News. “We’ve been kind to them; we gave them our land to stay on and to graze their cattle. Unfortunately, they’ve been killing our members.”
His parish in Nzehrivoh has been destroyed and parishioners displaced by the herdsmen, he said.
“The way they attack us is terribly bad,” he said. “We tried to make peace with them, but this has not worked as they keep attacking us. They still kill our members. So, we don’t know what else to do.
“We as Christians see the herdsmen as our brothers and cannot send them away; but, unfortunately, these Fulani herdsmen do not appreciate our hospitality and are killing us and forcing us out of our lands. We just buried one of our members killed by the herdsmen a moment ago.”
Silas Jacob, a 42-year-old Catholic catchiest whose parish was in Nzehrivoh before the village was destroyed, said attacks on the community began on Oct. 13, 2017, killing some and displacing others.
“The Fulani herdsmen attacked us at about 9 pm and killed many of my members,” he said. “Those of us who survived the attack took refuge here at Dong village. After soldiers were brought to Nzehrivoh, we returned there, but in March 2018, again the herdsmen attacked us; this is even with the presence of soldiers in Nzehrivoh village.”
His parishioner returned to Dong, Jacob said.
“Then last Saturday [April 27], the herdsmen ambushed two of our people and killed them,” he said. “And just while we were still mourning the two, one of us was again killed yesterday [May 2] in an ambush again by the herdsmen. This is very disheartening. These attacks on us are being carried out in the presence of soldiers, and yet the Nigerian government has not done anything to end these unprovoked attacks on us.”
Church members have not ceased praying and thanking God for His mercies and protection, Jacob added.
“We use this opportunity to covet prayers of other Christians and also call for support from those who are led by the Holy Spirit to do so,” he said. ‘We have parishioners who have no places to sleep, food to eat, and even medical supplies for health needs. Truly, those of us who have survived these attacks are suffering.”
The government needs to take urgent steps toward finding a lasting, peaceful solution, Jacob said.
“We want a peaceful coexistence in this country, because it is only in doing this that development can take place,” he said. “The Fulani have deliberately been grazing their cattle on farms of Christians, and when these Christian farmers complain about such behavior, they are attacked by the herdsmen. This is not proper.”
The Catholic leaders said the attacks on Nzherivo village in 2017 and 2018 displaced entire congregations from six churches: ECWA Church, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Assembly of God Church, Anglican Church and a Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The church leaders pleaded for assistance to enable the them rebuild even one worship hall that would give them a place to pray and worship irrespective of denominational differences.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.