Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 12 Christians in Nasarawa state and three others in Plateau state the last part of April, sources said.
In north-central Nigeria’s Nasarawa state, herdsmen killed 12 Christian farmers in Ajimaka, Doma County, in attacks there and in 13 other villages from April 24 until April 29, area leader Barnabas Zayol told Morning Star News. The attacks displaced tens of thousands of people, Christian leaders said.
A survivor of the attack on Ajikama village, Terlumun Tsekaa, said the herdsmen arrived at about 2 a.m. on April 24 with guns and machetes and killed his wife, who was seven months pregnant, and 3-year-old child.
“There were more than 30 of these herdsmen who attacked us, and they were shouting ‘Allah akbar [Allah is greater]’ as they shot at us and burned our houses,” Tsekaa told Morning Star News. “They set fire on all houses in the village. They also killed a whole family of five members.”
In Doma County, the herdsmen also attacked Dooshima, Antsa, Dooka, Angwan Yara, Ikyayior, Targema, Tse Tor, Chia, Umurayi, Dooga, Gindan Rail and Ankoma villages; in Keana County, they attacked Ategher, Avewua, Ugbele Aondokaa, Ikper, Gborgyo and Uluwa Kwananke villages, Zayol said.
“They burned down houses and killed indiscriminately anyone they sighted,” Zayol said. “Those killed during the attacks include children and pregnant women.”
Victims were members of Universal Reformed Christian Church (NKST in Nigeria), Roman Catholic, Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) and Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) churches, he said. He identified those slain as Tsekaa Chiatyo, Kwaghdoo Tsekaa, Sewuese Tsekaa, Bobo Chiatyo, Aondosee Fidelis, Aboy, Igba Aduku, Iwueseter, Aseer, Kasehumba, William Katu and Aondowase Agbu.
Citing nine dead, police confirmed the attacks and said personnel were sent to the area. Ramhan Nansel, spokesman for the Nasarawa State Police Command, said in a statement that officers received report of the attack on Ajimaka at about 6 a.m. on April 24.
“Upon receipt of the information, a joint team of police and military personnel were deployed to the scene, where nine corpses were recovered, each with multiple machete cuts,” Nansel said.
Nasarawa Gov. Abdullahi Sule issued a statement through his chief press secretary, Ibrahim Addra.
“An attack that does not spare women and children bears the trademark of devilish elements who are bent on truncating the relative peace in the state,” he said. “A thorough investigations by security operatives have since commenced in order to expose the criminals and punish them according to the laws of the land. My condolences and prayers are with families of those who lost their lives.
“I urge them and the rest of our citizens to be assured that this administration will do all within its power to ensure justice, peace and security across the state.”
Attack on Funeral in Plateau State
In neighboring Plateau state on April 25, Fulani herdsmen killed one Christian and wounded another in Miango, Bassa County, an area resident said.
“Danlami Musa, 21, was killed, while Friday Musa, 19, his brother, was injured during the attack at about 7 p.m. at the twins hills, Miango,” Patience Moses said. “Please keep praying for God’s intervention on our behalf.”
On the same day in Bokkos County, herdsmen killed Christian community leader Yakubu Dadel in Jwanshak village in an attack on a funeral service at about 8:30 p.m., his son said.
Ayuba Dadel said his father was killed as other villagers scampered into nearby bushes.
“We were holding a funeral service when the Fulani gunmen came shooting sporadically, and everyone scampered for safety,” Dadel said in a text message to Morning Star News. “My father was in his house and only ran out to lock his gate. When they sighted him, they chased after him with serious gunfire. They first injured him on the hand, and when he ran to his bedroom, they followed him, dragged him to the ground from his bed and shot him point blank.”
Also in Bokkos County, Fulani herdsmen attacked Daffo village on April 20, killing Christian resident Iliya Mutong, villagers said.
“Iliya Mutong was cut with machetes until he died at about 8 p.m.,” Kyanan Mizhim said in a text message to Morning Star News. “He was sitting in front of his house when a group of Fulani herdsmen attacked him.”
In Jos South County on April 9, Fulani herdsmen were suspected in the killing of eight Christian miners at Shawalan mining site, near Kuru village. Emmanuel Jang, a Jos South council official, said their bodies were retrieved from the site and a funeral was held for them.
“They were all members of the Church of Christ in Nations,” Jang said in a text message to Morning Star News.
On March 13 in Barkin Ladi County, high school student David James, 18, was killed by Fulani herdsmen in Dorowa Babuje village, his father said. Solomon James, 68, said in a text message to Morning Star News that his son was killed in their home shortly before 8 p.m.
Community leader John Choji confirmed the killing of James.
“Our community has been under siege of armed Fulani herdsmen for a number of years now,” Choji said.
In the Dutse area of Miango on Feb. 1, a band of herdsmen killed twelve Christian farmers as they worked their fields, according to Edward Egbuka, Plateau state commissioner of police.
World Leader in Christians Killed
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 Door’s 2021 World Watch List report.
In the 2021 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. 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.
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.
Photo: Nasarawa state, Nigeria. (Creative Commons)