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Hope for victims of the Nigerian conflict claiming more lives than Boko Haram

In the village of Goska, houses were destroyed, churches burnt and shops vandalised in a December attack. World Watch Monitor

In the village of Goska, houses were destroyed, churches burnt and shops vandalised in a December attack. World Watch Monitor

The two Nigerian villages are barely five minutes’ drive apart. In one, Goska, houses were destroyed, churches burnt, shops vandalized, carcasses of animals littered the streets and most of the village remains deserted. The other, Dangoma, remains intact, untouched by the shadows of violence.

Goska and Dangoma both lie in the Jema’a area of southern Kaduna in Nigeria’s Middle Belt; however, Goska is an indigenous community that is predominantly Christian, while Dangoma is a settler community, mostly Fulani and Muslim.

A Goska resident confirmed the attack in December to a researcher for World Watch Monitor

There seems to be a worrying pattern. The contrast between Goska and Dangoma after last December’s attack “is a metaphor for the violent conflict in southern Kaduna,” a researcher in Nigeria, who did not wish to be named, told World Watch Monitor.

Similar violent conflicts are affecting many other local communities across Kaduna State, and most are deliberate, well organised and executed, he added.

The selective nature of the conflict can be seen in the way individuals and families, towns, properties and communities are targeted: where indigenous Christians and settler Fulani Muslims live side by side, Christian homes are attacked while Fulani Muslim settlers are left alone.

Many experts now believe that this Middle Belt violence is responsible for more deaths than Boko Haram, which in 2016 experienced both internal splits and external military defeats by the Nigerian Army.In response, the local and federal governments have launched a range of military initiatives, while a local Catholic diocese is embarking on the painstaking work of dialogue and reconciliation.Following an attack on the convoy of the Kaduna Governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, in December, a 24-hour curfew was declared in three Local Government Areas, empowering the security forces to protect lives and property, as World Watch Monitor reported. It has since been scaled back to a 12-hour period (6pm-6am) and covers just one area, and the state government has introduced measures to forestall any future violence.

Meanwhile the federal government ordered the Nigerian Army to establish a base in southern Kaduna. The chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, gave assurances to local leaders that the army was there not to take sides but to restore peace.

As part of the peace measures, the federal government has also given approval for the building of another military barracks in southern Kaduna, in Kafanchan in the Jema’a area.

In the diocese of Kafanchan, the Catholic Church says that over 800 died between 2011 and the end of 2016. Many groups and individuals, including Peter Bawa, the Chairman of the Northern Christian Youth Assembly, have commended Governor El-Rufai for initiatives taken so far, believing that they will go a long way to curtail the menace of herdsmen who have plunged many communities in the area into mourning.

However, some of southern Kaduna’s indigenous population interviewed by World Watch Monitor felt the government was militarising the conflict. Military force is sometimes used in conflict as the first and not the last resort, often without civilian engagement.

For instance, according to Environmental Rights Action of Nigeria in its book Blanket of Silence: Images of the Odi Genocide, then-President Obasanjo responded to the 1999 civil unrest in the town of Odi in Bayelsa State by sending in “27 five-ton vehicles loaded with over 2,000 troops, four armoured personnel carriers … three 81mm mortar guns and two pieces of 105mm Howitzer Artillery guns, and they killed a total of 2,483 people”.

The violent activities of Boko Haram since 2009 were also followed by the deployment of the military, a civilian joint-task force, various local vigilantes, and hunters. Yet the conflict has escalated and not ended. Sending military to southern Kaduna may not provide a solution.Other critics have faulted the government for positioning the new barracks in Kafanchan, where so much bloodshed has occurred, saying they suspect the Kafanchan base is meant to protect a “settler” chief, who is not accepted by the indigenous people.

Locals told World Watch Monitor that there is a cry for the building of genuine community engagement, and against policies that enhance social exclusion, marginalisation and injustice, and for dealing with these. It is important, say those involved, to give victims, women and children a voice, otherwise the conflict is only suspended, not ended.

In response to all this, the Kukah Centre, a mediating institution set up by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassaan Kukah, has initiated a project on Memory and Healing in Southern Kaduna. The centre is committed to promoting shared national identity and citizenship as a bedrock for healing, peace and stability in southern Kaduna, and to that end is documenting victims’ memories of the conflict. Using inter-group dialogue and community engagement, it provides a platform for victims and ordinary people to be heard.

Some activities to begin next month include a high-level consultation with the Kaduna government, supported by the independently-run National Peace Committee. The centre is also planning 10 community engagements in four Local Government Areas badly affected by the conflict: Sanga, Jama’a, Kauru and Kaura. The groups of participants will cut across socio-cultural, religious and political divides.

Additionally, victims will be enabled to recount their stories in 10 focus-group discussions and five roundtable conversations with organisations such as Southern Kaduna’s Women’s and Youth Forums, Jamaatul Nasri Islma, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria, Muslim Youth Forum of Southern Kaduna, Southern Kaduna Peoples Union and Young Professionals Forum.

The Kukah Centre is also planning to build memorials for victims of the conflict.

Achieving an end to the conflict has benefits beyond the humanitarian goal of ending the spectre of burnt-out homes and animal carcasses rotting in destroyed villages. Last year, the aid agency Mercy Corps said that if peace came to just four Middle Belt states – Kaduna, Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau – Nigeria would stand to gain up to US $13.7 billion annually in total economic progress.

Nigeria: 11 Killed in Multiple Bomb Blasts in Madagali

NIGERIA road sign

Kaduna (Nigeria) Two people were killed and 15 others injured in northeastern Nigeria, during a suicide attack that the government has blamed on the Boko Haram.

Around 9:00 am on Friday, three explosions rocked Madagali, a former base of the terrorist in Adamawa state. The blasts occurred near a military checkpoint at the entrance of the town. Many people had gathered to be screened before entering Madagali on the weekly market day.

Adamawa state police spokesman Othman Abubakar told AFP the blasts were carried out by female suicide bombers. “Two people were confirmed dead and 15 others injured. Four female suicide bombers exploded and died.  “The fourth bomber was shot by soldiers and exploded while heading towards her target,” he added.

Some reports claim one of the suicide bombers had a baby strapped to her back, but this information has not yet been confirmed at the time of this report.

Sambisa Forest is across the border in neighboring Borno state, the well-known Boko Haram training ground and hideout, has seen fiercest battles in the conflict with the militants since 2009.

The Nigerian military said last month it had retaken control of the forest. It is “strongly” believed Boko Haram fighters who were pushed out of their strongholds in the Sambisa Forest were behind Friday’s explosions.

Boko Haram fighters are also known to have been holed up near Madagali in the Mandara mountains, which separate northeast Nigeria and Cameroon.

Madagali has repeatedly been a target of the Islamic group. Vanguard news reported,

it was the third successive bomb blast in the last two months in a town that suffered so much loss during the peak of the insurgency. The incident has caused anxiety among residents. They maintained that more attacks could happen if the authorities remained beclouded in the euphoria of the acclaimed victory over the sect.

On January 5, three teenage girls were shot dead at a checkpoint in the remote town on suspicion of planning a suicide attack.

On December 9, at least 45 people were killed in two suicide bombings at the busy markets in Madagali, a year after a similar strike killed 17.

Suicide attacks, particularly by young women and girls, have been a regular feature of the conflict since mid-2014, even when Boko Haram held swathes of territory in the northeast.

Checkpoints, bus stations, mosques, churches, schools and markets have been targeted repeatedly since the start of the insurgency in 2009 to inflict maximum civilian casualties.

Much of the international media reports have been sharing the claim of the Nigerian government that the Boko Haram has been defeated. But those living in the crisis invite journalists from around the globe to come to Nigeria and report from their communities. One of VOP‘s sources said, “Maybe then the headlines will finally reveal the truth of our ongoing suffering. Maybe then the world will take notice.”

Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency  has killed over 20,000 people, displaced more than 2 1/2 million from their homes and created a massive humanitarian crisis. The U.N. says 5.1 million people in Nigeria are facing starvation.

Please keep our Nigerian brothers and sisters at the forefront of your prayers. Please continue to pray for there protection, emotional distress and peace that will allow them to go home.

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. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. 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 orphan-306x4601them. 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.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

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If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project. Donations always desperately needed

Suicide Bombers attack capital of Borno State

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(Voice of the Persecuted) Nigeria:  Two suicide bombers attacked the Kashuwa Shanu market in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State on Monday morning. The attack follows Nigerian President Buhari’s statement circulated on Christmas Day, which  declared a major victory against Boko Haram insurgents and announced the fall of the last enclave of Boko Haram militants in Sambisa forests to Nigerian troops. (more…)

NIGERIA – Another priest kidnapped in the Delta region

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(Agenzia Fides) – Another Catholic priest, Fr. Jude Onyebadi, pastor of the church of St. Peter and Paul in Issele-Azagba, in the Delta region in the south of the Country has been kidnapped in Nigeria. According to information sent to Agenzia Fides, he was seized on December 16 by three armed men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, in his pineapple plantation.
The kidnappers initially asked for 50 million Naira (152,000 euros), then went down to 20 million (61,000 euros) Naira for the release of the priest.

The Director of Social Communications of the Diocese of Issele-Uku, Charles Uganwa, confirmed the kidnapping and called on the kidnappers to release the hostages unconditionally, remembering that the Catholic Church does not pay ransoms.

In 2016, several Catholic priests were kidnapped in Nigeria, especially in the southern regions. Fr. Sylvester Onmoke, President of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association, NCDPA has described “the recent spate of kidnappings of priests and religious as an assault on the Church”

Nigeria: Kebbi Christians face latent pressure to abandon faith

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Danbango village in the Yauri Local Government Area was traditionally an animist community, but many converted to Christianity following the visit of missionaries in 2012. More recently, visits from Muslim evangelists have seen many convert to Islam. The Christians there say they also faced pressure to do so.

One Christian villager said they were promised boreholes, schools and clinics if they converted.

Another said: “When my son became very sick, I took him to hospital, but the doctors said they would treat him only if I gave up my Christian faith. I refused and took him home. Some days later he died.”  (more…)

7 and 8 year old suicide bombers die in twin blast at crowded Nigerian market

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(Voice of the Persecuted) On Sunday, at least one person was killed and others wounded in a double suicide attack carried out by two girls ( 7-8 years old) in the main market of Maiduguri, the capital of the Nigerian state of Borno. The two blasts occurred in quick succession at about 8:48 a.m Before the first explosion, an eyewitness said the girls walked right in front of him “without showing the slightest sign of emotion”.  (more…)

Nigeria: 45 dead and 33 injured in twin suicide bombing

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(Voice of the Persecuted) On Friday, 45 people were killed and 33 injured in suicide blasts when two teenage girls detonated themselves at a crowded market in the northeast Nigerian town, Madagali in Adamawa state.  (more…)

45 killed in yet another attack on Christian communities in Kaduna

he aftermath of the 13 Nov. attack, which left 45 dead (mostly women, children and the elderly) in southern Kaduna State. World Watch Monitor

he aftermath of the 13 Nov. attack, which left 45 dead (mostly women, children and the elderly) in southern Kaduna State.
World Watch Monitor

A spate of attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria last weekend left 45 dead and several more injured.

The attacks took place in five villages in the Kauru Local Government Area, in the Middle Belt state of Kaduna – an area mostly populated by Christians, on Sunday 13 November.

Most of the victims were women, children and the elderly, who could not escape the gunfire of the attackers, believed to be Fulani herdsmen. One hundred and twenty houses, including eight house-churches, were burnt down.

A resident of Kitakum (one of the villages), Samuel Adamu, told World Watch Monitor the attackers came at around 7pm local time.

“They laid siege to the village before they started shooting sporadically and throwing explosives at our homes,” he said. “They were armed with guns, knives, machetes and explosives.

“They slaughtered [and] butchered women, children and old people who could not escape.”

Adamu accused the government of failing to stop the persistent attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives in southern Kaduna.

The attacks came a day after the Fulani herdsmen and indigenous communities in Kauru and neighbouring Local Government Areas resolved to live at peace with each other.

That peace-deal ceremony, held in Samaru Kataf, was attended by Kaduna Governor Nasir El -Rufai, who commended the communities and assured that his administration was determined to ensure security of lives and property.

In reaction to the 13 Nov. killings, the state government’s statement condemned the “barbaric” attacks, saying they would not derail ongoing efforts at peace-building in southern Kaduna.

The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) is the main church organisation in Kaduna (950 churches, over 2 million members) and most of the victims were ECWA members. Its Chairman for Kaduna State, at a news conference (16 Nov.), blamed the ongoing violence on a quest for grazing reserves.

“We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the announced intention of the Kaduna State Government – to re-create existing cattle grazing reserves in southern Kaduna – serves as a major motivation for the renewed ethno-religious violence and cleansing currently being visited on southern Kaduna communities,” said Rev. Zachariah Gado.

He also said last week’s donation by the Kaduna state governor for the reconstruction of churches destroyed during the attacks was a misplaced priority, saying that the money should have been given to security agencies.

“As perpetrators continue to evade consequences for their illegal and violent actions, impunity and lawlessness are becoming entrenched, to the detriment of the entire state,” he said. “Since the violent aftermath of the 2011 Presidential election, there have been increasing indications of the existence of a desperate, well-funded, organised and executed campaign not only to make life unbearable for the entire southern Kaduna territory through threats, intimidation and psychological warfare, but also to occupy the land through what can only be described as ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia.”

Since March 2013, at least 180 have been killed and 10,000 displaced, while hundreds of properties, including dozens of churches, have been burnt down. Some 16 villages have been overrun by Fulani, who are now fully settled with their cattle and families, noted Gado.

He appealed to both the State and Federal governments to restore all communities taken over by herdsmen to the rightful owners, saying that failure to do so will only encourage further lawlessness.

Zachariah Gado also reiterated his calls for the establishment of a military base in southern Kaduna, to end the killings.

Timeline of recent attacks by Fulani Herdsmen: May-Nov 2016

13 Nov.

45 killed, 120 houses, including eight house-churches, burnt down, as Fulani herdsmen laid siege to five villages (Kigam, Kitakum, Unguwan Magaji , Unguwan Rimi and Kizipi), all in Kauru Local Government Area, about 300km east of Kaduna.

25 Oct.

Attacks on Misisi village (Kaninkon Chiefdom): seven killed, including the village head, 26 houses burnt down. Also, attacks on Pasakori (3km from Misisi): two killed and 16 houses burnt down.

15 Oct.

Godogodo: over 300 militiamen laid siege to the town. The killings and arson continued into 16 October and left 30 dead, 27,819 displaced, 326 injured and 326 homes burnt down, including seven churches. Properties estimated to be worth thousands of dollars were looted and destroyed.

24 Sept.

Godogodo: seven killed as Fulani militia attacked the town (where thousands forcibly displaced from surrounding communities have sought refuge). The next day, an attempted raid was repelled by local vigilantes and security forces.

2 Aug.

Akwa: two killed, 20 buildings burnt down, including churches.

Golgofa: nine killed and the entire town razed to ashes.

1-2 Aug.

Unguwar Anjo village (estimated population 3,500) burnt down. A pastor and a community leader killed among others, two churches, including lots of materials, destroyed.

31 May

Ninte: the entire village burnt down, including three churches, three vehicles and foodstuffs.

Unguwan Kafinta, Dangwa villages attacked: five killed and 298 properties destroyed.

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