VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

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Nigeria: Where is Leah Sharibu

As we approach the next elections, the question that should agitate our mind is “Where is Leah  Sharibu?” This should be made a subject of discussion particularly for the incumbent President seeking a second term. Unfortunately, we seem to have swept this issue under the carpet. See the full article here to read the questions not only Nigerians but the global community are asking about this Christian girl who still has not been rescued.

Please keep Leah in your prayers.

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Fulani cause death and destruction for Nigerian Christians


Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) — Multiple states in Nigeria continue to witness attacks by extremists and a recent rise in violence. VOP’s Nigerian correspondent interviewed community leaders and eye witnesses of 5 Christian villages that were brutally attacked by Fulani herdsmen during the past year. All the villages are located in the Local Government Area of Numan in Adamawa State.

GON Village

On January 4, 2018, armed Fulani herdsmen raided GON village and killed Mijidanna Akilla, an elderly man of 70 years who was unable to flee during the attack.

On September, 14, 2018 – In the late afternoon, the Fulani militants came again shooting then burned down the villagers homes. 12 women and children were killed while others escaped though the Benue river in canoes. Gon’s community leader told VOP’s correspondent, “We reported the matter to the Nigerian police/military three times but they didn’t respond until after the armed herdsmen raided our village. Our community is not safe.”

The Numan Local Government Head of the Service assisted the villagers placement into the Numan Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. The village leader shared, “Unfortunately we are facing a problem of shelter,
feeding and medical care. We sleep on the floor in a classroom, while some on mats and fewer on mattresses. Though they have assisted in enrolling our children into public school, it’s very difficult to pay for books.”

“We can’t go back to our villages; we are appealing to the International community and the government institutions to come to our aid. We are unsure about the future here and what our fate will be without any intervention.”   

In May 2018, Mrs Sodom Daniel, a lawmaker representing Numan constituency in the Adamawa House of Assembly, implored the Federal government to consider establishing an Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camp in the area.

She described how incessant attacks on the communities within the Numan local government area had rendered many people homeless. She appealed to all those concerned to assist the victims of the attacks.

“It has become a serious matter of worry as we wake up from time to time to observe increasing number of displaced persons resulting from incessant attacks on our communities in Numan by herdsmen.

I am appealing to the Federal Government to establish an IDPs camp that would cater for this growing number of internally displaced people.

I am also calling on well meaning Nigerians, donor agencies, philanthropists and many other groups to come and assist us in tackling this enormous humanitarian task,” she said.

BOLKI Village

The Fulani attacked Bolki village on February, 5, 2018 and killed 11 people while 4 still remain missing. “We don’t know if they are dead or alive. We reported the matter to security forces but they did nothing about it.”

On May 9, 2018, the Fulani again invaded the village armed with guns. One of the victims described how they were able to survive the attack. “We were lucky to have canoes and cross over to the other side of the riverbank.

On August, 1, 2018, the herdsmen ravaged the village by bringing many cows with them. They led the cattle to the fields where the village farmers had planted maize, carrots and other vegetables. Some of the Fulani militants stood guard with guns and machetes waiting to kill any villager who tried to intervene. The animals ate all the crops, which robbed the farmers of much needed income and the villagers of nutrition.

The last attack took place on September 14, 2018 where armed Fulani herdsmen came to Bolki in the evening hours and started shooting. 3 people were instantly killed while 19 others drowned in the river while trying to escape the killers.

During the Fulani raids in the last quarter of 2018, a total of 34 villagers were killed.

“Due to the horrific attacks, the local government officials sent canoes to the riverside to rescue us then brought us to the IDP camp in Numan.

When we first arrived they gave us some mattresses and food, but now things have terribly gone wrong. We have challenges of shelter, food and medical services, they are not enough. The situation, has forced some of the men to return back home in search of food. Sadly they were attacked between September 19-22, 2018 and one of them were killed.

We are prepared to go back home, but the fear of insecurity has left us with no other option than to suffer here. Our women and children are finding it impossible to endure this hardship. We are appealing to the government to intervene and make our community safe so that we can go back.”

NZOMORU Village

We are facing many challenges in our community because of the attacks by the armed Fulani Herdsmen. On September 4, 2018. They invaded our village with guns and bow and arrows. They burnt down the entire village and killed over 20 people that night. Many drowned in a river and died as well. Some of their bodies have never been recovered.

It was very chaotic! Everybody was running to save their lives. Unfortunately, the incidence happened while I was in pain with no strength to run because I had a fresh wound from surgery. Out of panic, I fled into bush and stayed in hiding until I was rescued and brought to the IDP camp.

We have very serious problem of food here. As am talking to you now, we haven’t had any food in 4 days. We cannot go back home because of the insecurity but the suffering here is getting more terrible everyday. Another issue is the shelter, medical service and even education facilities for our children.

We are desperately looking for assistance. We can’t return back home since our villages are completely destroyed. We ask the government and international community, come to our rescue and save us!            

YANGA Village

On September 14, 2018, the Fulani militia came into our village in the evening hours and started setting houses on fire. They chased the villagers with guns and machetes. Since the Christians were anticipating an attack at any given moment, they stayed on alert. But even so, 21 people were killed. Of the victims, 7 men were murdered while the remaining were women and children.

They burned all our food and houses rendering us empty with no alternative for survival.

The following day, a member of the House of Assembly representing the Numan constituency and the Head of Service organized a means of transport and rescued some of us. After we arrived at the IDP camp, we learned that the gunmen went further to destroy all our properties.

Life here in the camp is pathetic, very few individuals assist us despite the challenges of school facilities, medical services, shortages of shelter and of course lack of food. In some instances, they send our children away from the school even with all the pledges.

We need help, we cannot return back to our community,  it’s not safe. Let the government intervene to support the efforts of the other individuals.     

Leader of NUMAN IDP Camp

Numan IDP’s stated after coordinated attacks on 5 villages namely Gon, Bolki, Nzumosu , Yanga & Sabon Layi between September and October 2018, over 3000 people arrived at the Numan IDP camp. The number has been reduced as 43% left due to the dire hardships in the camp.

Some returned back to try and repair their burnt homes and check if it’s possible to resettle in their villages. Others have scattered in the town with no sense of direction. At great risk, some farmers and fishermen decided to go back to the killing zone in search of shelter and food.

“We currently have a total of 1,716 Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) in the Numan camp and all are Christians equaling 236 families.”

Here is a breakdown of the people in the camp. 

  • Gon: 539 people with 68 families
  • Bolki: 476 people with 68 families
  • Nzumosu: 294 people with 42 families
  • Yanga 329 people 47 families
  • Sabon Layi 78 people with 11 families

(Photo: Voice of the Persecuted-Displaced Christians in Numan IDP Camp)

Voice of the Persecuted is committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief and encouragement. We are committed to our mission called PROJECT 133 in Nigeria. 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 thankful for each one of you who have joined this mission through your prayers and 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

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and 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!

If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. Donations always desperately needed.

Christian Family, Church Devastated by Killing of Church Elder in Nigeria

(Morning Star News) – Ladi Yakubu does not know how her family will eat after Muslim Fulani herdsmen destroyed crops on their farm in Kaduna state, Nigeria on Nov. 26 and shot and killed her husband.

“My husband is no more alive, and so the burden to feed our children is on me,” she said. “How do I feed them without having a job? And I cannot go to the farm because of the murderous activities of these herdsmen.”

The 49-year-old Yakubu, a member of the Dogo Awo village congregation of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in north-central Nigeria, said she knew the gunmen were Fulani herdsmen because they have lived near the village for several years. Herdsmen also destroyed crops on their farm in late 2016 and late 2017, she said.

Her husband, ECWA elder Yakubu Musa, was 50.

Her 20-year-old son, Believe Yakubu, received a bullet wound in his leg in the attack. Her other children are ages 15, 18, 23, 26 and 28, but without access to their farm outside the village, the adult children have little income-earning power.

The attack was different from night-time raids that have terrorized Christians in north-central and other states in Nigeria. Church members were helping the family to harvest rice the morning of Nov. 26, she said, when they stopped for lunch at about noon.

“As we were eating, a Fulani man came over to where we were sitting under a tree,” Yakubu told Morning Star News. “We offered him food, but he declined to eat with us. When my husband asked the Fulani man whether he needed help in anyway, the man said he was only out to find areas he could take his cattle to for grazing.”

The herdman left, but soon they heard gunshots near the farm, she said. The frightened church members returned to the village, while Yakubu, her husband and their son and nephew stayed to gather the harvest into one place and try to move tools and equipment, she said.

“While we were doing this, the Fulani man returned with one other Fulani,” Yakubu said. “Both of them were armed with guns. They shot at us, killing my husband and shooting my son on the leg, while me and my husband’s nephew narrowly escaped being shot. My husband was shot twice in the stomach.”

The armed herdsmen left the area, she said, but the next morning they returned and destroyed crops, water-pumping machines for irrigation, herbicide sprayers and even the food warmers the family had taken to the farm, she said.

“My husband’s corpse was recovered by our church members, and he was buried here in our house,” she said, pointing to the grave. “That is the grave you see by the door to this room where we are seated.”

Police Inaction Emboldens Herdsmen

After a Nov. 25, 2016 raid, when Fulani herdsmen destroyed rice, beans, pepper and other crops, her husband reported the attack to police and the leader of the local Fulani community, but they took no action, Yakubu said.

“No action was taken against them, but then my husband, who loves peace, said we should forgive the Fulani herdsmen and continue to work on the farm and trust God for provisions,” she said.

The police inaction emboldened Fulani herdsmen to return again during the harvest season of 2017 and destroy crops, she said. Again her husband reported the attack to police and the local Fulani leader, with no result.

“We were all devastated by the actions of these herdsmen as we were never compensated even once for the destruction on our farms,” Yakubu said. “Yet they still returned to kill my husband on the same farm they had destroyed our crops.”

Every morning during family devotionals, she said, her husband would instruct them never to repay evil with evil.

“‘Leave judgment of every evil act against you to God,’ he would always tell us,” she said, sobbing. “And in obedience to his instructions, we have forgiven those who murdered my husband. We will never avenge his death, as God says, ‘Vengeance is mine.’”

The Fulani herdsmen killed Yakubu Musa though he had never done anything to them, she said.

“All our crops have been destroyed, and it is not even safe for us to venture out there to even glean on these farms,” she said. “And because of this, I find it difficult to provide food to our six children.”

On Wednesday (Jan. 2), the herdsmen attacked other Christians who went to their fields near Dogo Awo, she said. Dogo Awo village is located south of the town of Jagindi Tasha, Jama’a Local Government Area.

“My only appeal is that those who have the heart to want to help us with prayers and want to help us with something to feed on should please kindly do so,” she said.

Church Affected

A graduate of the College of Education, Gidan Waya, in Kaduna state, with a Nigerian Certificate of Education, Yakubu had taught at a public primary school before she and other Christian teachers were laid off in what has been seen as systematic discrimination by a state government controlled by a Muslim governor.

The Rev. Ali Ndaks, pastor of the ECWA Church in Dogo Awo village, said the killing of his church elder has devastated the congregation.

“Before this incident, our church, even though a small congregation, had 50 members,” Pastor Ndaks said. “But with the incessant attacks on our community, we now have only seven members left. Almost all Christians in this village have fled out of fear of the attacks by the herdsmen.”

The pastor said that herdsmen had also destroyed his farm, as well as those of other villagers.

Musa also served as church secretary, financial secretary, and service leader, Pastor Ndaks said.

“He was a man of peace, always ensuring that issues in the church were resolved amicably,” he added.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.Photo: Fulani herdsman

Church elder Yakubu Musa, killed in Muslim Fulani herdsmen attack on Nov. 26, 2018. (Morning Star News)

Photo 1. Fulani herdsman

Photo 2. Church elder Yakubu Musa, killed in Muslim Fulani herdsmen attack on Nov. 26, 2018. (Morning Star News) Photo: Fulani herdsman

New Revelation: Previous US Administration Facilitated Christian Genocide in Nigeria

by Raymond Ibrahim for Gatestone Institute —

  • “On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote. In that video, Obama urged Nigerians to open the ‘next chapter’ by their votes.” — Goodluck Jonathan, former president of Nigeria, in his new book, My Transition Hours.
  • “Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria.” — Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of the National Christian Elders Forum,June 23, 2018.
  • “Hundreds of indigenous Numan Christians in Adamawa state were attacked and killed by jihadist Fulani herdsmen. When they tried to defend themselves the Buhari govt. sent in the Airforce to bomb hundreds of them and protect the Fulani aggressors.” — Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigerian lawyer, author and former Minister of Aviation, Daily Post, December 6, 2017.
  • In March 2014, after the United States Institute for Peace invited the governors of Nigeria’s northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang, an ordained minister.

In a bombshell revelation, Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s former president (2010-2015), has accused the Obama administration of meddling with his nation’s politics in order to replace him with its current president, Muhammadu Buhari — whom many blame for facilitating the persecution of Christians. In his new book, My Transition Hours, Jonathan writes:

“On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote… In that video, Obama urged Nigerians to open the ‘next chapter’ by their votes. Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the [Muslim-led] opposition to form a new government.”

A 2011 ABC News report provides context:

The current wave of [Muslim] riots was triggered by the Independent National Election Commission’s (INEC) announcement on Monday [April 18, 2011] that the incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, won in the initial round of ballot counts. That there were riots in the largely Muslim inhabited northern states where the defeat of the Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari was intolerable, was unsurprising. Northerners [Muslims] felt they were entitled to the presidency for the declared winner, President Jonathan, [who] assumed leadership after the Muslim president, Umaru Yar’Adua died in office last year and radical groups in the north [Boko Haram] had seen his [Jonathan’s] ascent as a temporary matter to be corrected at this year’s election. Now they are angry despite experts and observers concurring that this is the fairest and most independent election in recent Nigerian history.

That the Obama administration may have imposed its will on a foreign country’s politics and elections is hardly unprecedented. Recall the administration’s partiality for the Muslim Brotherhood during and after 2012 presidential elections in Egypt; or its unsuccessful efforts to oust Israeli prime minister Netanyahu with U.S. taxpayers’ money; or its efforts — with an admittedly unverified “dossier” (herehere and here) — to prevent then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump from being elected, or by discussing an “insurance policy” in the event that Trump won. Moreover, texts by Peter Strzok revealed that Obama “wants to know everything we’re doing.”

So in Nigeria, the Obama administration, it seems, sought to right the apparently intolerable wrong of having a duly elected Christian president in a more than 50% Christian nation.

Two questions arise: 1) Is there any outside evidence to corroborate Jonathan’s allegations against the Obama administration? 2) Is Buhari truly facilitating the jihad on his Christian countrymen?

The Obama Administration’s Pro-Islamic/Anti-Christian Policy

Former Nigerian President Jonathan’s newly published accusations appear to correspond with the former U.S. administration’s policy concerning Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.

To begin with, the Obama administration insisted that violence and bloodshed in Nigeria — almost all of which was committed by Muslims against Christians — had nothing to do with religion. This despite the fact that Boko Haram — which was engaging in ISIS type of atrocities: slaughter, kidnap, rape, plunder, slavery, torture before ISIS was even born — presented its terrorism as a jihad. In one instance it even called on President Jonathan to “repent and forsake Christianity” and convert to Islam as the price for peace. The Obama administration, however, refused to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization until November 2013 — years after increasing pressure from lawmakers, human rights activists, and lobbyists.

For instance, after a Nigerian church was destroyed in an Easter Day 2012 bombing that left 39 worshippers dead — one of many such deadly church bombings over the years in Nigeria — Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said, “I want to take this opportunity to stress one key point and that is that religion is not driving extremist violence” in Nigeria.

Instead, “inequality” and “poverty” — to quote Bill Clinton — are “what’s fueling all this stuff” (a reference to the jihadi massacre of thousands of Christians).

Apparently to prove that it believed what it was saying, the Obama administration even agreed to allocate $600 million in a USAID initiative to ascertain the “true causes” of unrest and violence in Nigeria, which supposedly lay in the socio-economic, never the religious, realm.

Also telling is that, although the Obama administration offered only generic regrets whenever Christians were slaughtered by the dozens — without acknowledging the religious identity of persecutor or victim — it loudly protested whenever Islamic terrorists were targeted. When, for instance, Nigerian forces under Jonathan’s presidency killed 30 Boko Haram terrorists in an offensive in May 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (who is also mentioned in unflattering terms in Jonathan’s memoirs) “issued a strongly worded statement” to Jonathan, reported Reuters: “We are … deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations,” Kerry warned the Nigerian president.

In March 2014, after the United States Institute for Peace invited the governors of Nigeria’s northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang, an ordained minister. According to human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe:

“After the [Christian governor] told them that they were ignoring the 12 Shariah states who institutionalized persecution … he suddenly developed visa problems… The question remains – why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?”

More recently, Ogebe, of the U.S. Nigeria Law Group based in Washington, told Gatestone in an interview that the Obama administration “State Department actually said they preferred a ‘Muslim majority’ country to explain why Obama chose to visit Senegal instead of Nigeria. Ironically, Jonathan sided with the US on Israel in the UN while Buhari voted against the US/Israel in the UN.”

Muhammadu Buhari’s Role in the Jihad on Christians

Indicators that Muhammadu Buhari — whom the Obama administration helped make president of Nigeria, according to Jonathan — is empowering the genocide of Christians follow.

After Goodluck Jonathan became president, thousands of Christians living near Muslim centers in Nigeria were killed. Since getting what they want — a Muslim president, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015 — Muslims have attacked Christians in ways that are being characterized as a “pure genocide.”

As the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella group of various Christian denominations, said in a recent statement:

“There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage.”

To begin with, significantly more Christians have been massacred under Muhammadu Buhari than his Christian predecessor — mostly by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, who regularly launch raids on Christian villages. In just the first six months of this year, 6,000 Christians were slaughtered in the name of jihad. It took three times as long for the Fulani to kill only 1,484 Christians under Jonathan’s presidency.

Any number of prominent Nigerians have accused Buhari of turning a blind eye to Fulani atrocities. He “is himself from the jihadists’ Fulani tribe,” Ogebe told Gatestone.

According to Rev. Musa Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria:

“Under President Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism… Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection as they unleash terror with impunity on the Nigerian people.”

Similarly, according to prominent Nigerian lawyer, author and former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode:

“… the Muslim president [Buhari] has only awarded the murderers with impunity rather than justice and has staffed his government with Islamic officials, while doing essentially nothing to give the nation’s Christians, who make up half the population, due representation.”

Like the Obama administration, Buhari also attributes Fulani persecution of Christians to “poverty, injustice and the lack of job opportunities.” As the Christian Association of Nigeria retorts, however:

“How can it be a [secular or economic] clash when one group [Muslims] is persistently attacking, killing, maiming, destroying, and the other group [Christians] is persistently being killed, maimed and their places of worship destroyed?”

The National Christian Elders Forum is more direct concerning the source of violence:

“JIHAD has been launched in Nigeria by the Islamists of northern Nigeria led by the Fulani ethnic group. This Jihad is based on the Doctrine of Hate taught in Mosques and Islamic Madrasas in northern Nigeria as well as the supremacist ideology of the Fulani. Using both conventional (violent) Jihad, and stealth (civilization) Jihad, the Islamists of northern Nigeria seem determined to turn Nigeria into an Islamic Sultanate and replace Liberal Democracy with Sharia as the National Ideology. … We want a Nigeria, where citizens are treated equally before the law at all levels….”

The Buhari government has even been accused of participating in the jihad. For example, one especially savage Fulani “attack razed several [Christian] villages in the southern part of the state [leaving 100 dead], and a military jet bombed a Lutheran church and other targets,” says one report, before adding: “Some people suspect the jets were deployed in collaboration with the terrorists because their bombs hit villagers.”

Fani-Kyode has been even more direct in his accusation against Buhari:

“Hundreds of indigenous Numan Christians in Adamawa state were attacked and killed by jihadist Fulani herdsmen. When they tried to defend themselves the Buhari govt. sent in the Airforce to bomb hundreds of them and protect the Fulani aggressors. Is this fair? WORLD TAKE NOTE!”

It is also worth noting that, although Christians were only recently the majority of Nigeria’s population, the ongoing genocide against them has caused their population to drop — to the point that Christianity in Nigeria “is on the brink of extinction,” warns Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of the National Christian Elders Forum. Last summer he said that Muhammadu Buhari “is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities.” Accordingly, “the Church has been weakened and unable to stand before its enemies. Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church.”

Raymond Ibrahim, author of the new book, Sword and Scimitar, Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Photo:
Goodluck Jonathon

Nigeria’s herder-farmer conflict escalates due to government inaction – Amnesty International


(World Watch Monitor) Almost 4,000 people have been killed and thousands displaced in fighting between herders and farmers in Nigeria’s middle belt in the past three years, Amnesty International says in a new report.

Amnesty, who started documenting clashes in January 2016, said yesterday (17 December) violence was increasing with more than half (57%) of the 3,641 recorded deaths in the past three years occurring in 2018, and that the government’s failure to curb the violence and prosecute the perpetrators, was exacerbating the situation.

“The Nigerian government has displayed what can only be described as gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population and end the intensifying conflict between herders and farmers. The authorities’ lethargy has allowed impunity to flourish and the killings to spread to many parts of the country, inflicting greater suffering on communities who already live in constant fear of the next attack,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

Clashes between predominantly Christian farmers and mainly Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria have a long history, including raids and counter raids, but both groups testify that they mostly lived together in peace.

Since 2017 the conflicts have become increasingly violent and deadly, said Amnesty, attributing it to competition of resources due to climate change and the influx of refugees on the run from the Islamic Boko Haram insurgency. Attackers appear well organised and armed with sophisticated weapons.

“The killings are becoming no longer herder-and-farmer clashes” but a “deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people’s ancestral heritage,” said Dr. Soja Bewarang, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Plateau State in June, after suspected Fulani gunmen went on a killing spree in the state leaving scores dead.

As World Watch Monitor has reported, the attacks are concentrated in the states in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” which straddles the precolonial line dividing the predominantly Muslim north from its Christian south.

Although Ojigho denied the conflict had anything to do with religion or ethnicity, others have said conflicts over land have taken on an ethnic and religious character and that without acknowledging this, politicians will not be able to properly address the conflict.

report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in July said the conflict had evolved “from spontaneous reactions to provocations to become premeditated scorched-earth campaigns in which marauders often take villages by surprise at night”, claiming six times more lives than the Boko Haram insurgency.

(Photo: World Watch Monitor)

Unimaginable Loss for Christians Displaced by Violence in Nigeria

The displaced Gado family lives in the open air in room destroyed by rains. (Morning Star News)

Displaced family lives in the open air in room destroyed by rains. (Morning Star News)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A grandmother whose 35-year-old son, 21-year-old daughter-in-law and 5-year-old granddaughter were shot dead by Muslim Fulani herdsmen is now homeless after she and other relatives fled the attack in August.

“We were taken in by a family in Jebbu Miango village, but unfortunately the room we were given has been destroyed as a result of torrential rains,” Talatu Gado told Morning Star News as tears ran down her cheeks. “You can see that we now sleep in the open.”

Members of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Zanwra village, in Bassa county of Plateau state, Gado and her relatives were at their home in Angwan Kauna village when the herdsmen attacked on Aug. 3. Slain were her son, Emmanuel Gado, his sister-in-law Ladi Monday and the latter’s daughter, Mary Monday. A fourth relative, 7-year-old Gado Monday, was wounded by gunshot. Talatu told Morning Star News, 

“Prior to the herdsmen attack on us, they had while grazing their cattle around homes and farms threatened us severally. One of them once told me that a day would come that I will weep, that is if I’m still alive to cry. I never knew they’ll carry out their threat. Now my heart bleeds.” 
Photo: Morning Star News

The matriarch and her relatives have not been able to return to their village due to the threat of further attacks, she said.

On the day of the attack at about 6:30 p.m., her daughter-in-law and other women were cooking the evening meal when the herdsmen attacked their village, she said. Her granddaughter was taking a bath. She and her husband, Gado Andra, were seated as they waited for dinner. Suddenly they heard her son, 25-year-old Friday Gado, shouting outside the house that Fulani herdsmen were attacking the village from all sides.

“We all scattered in different directions, rushing out of the house through available exit points,” Talatu Gado said. “Other family members who were too scared to run out rushed into bedrooms to hide.”

The four family members who remained inside were shot, with the three dying and Gado Monday wounded.

“Those of us who were able to escape from the house survived the shooting, but we were displaced as we have been forced to flee the village,” she said. “Many in the community who also survived have fled to other areas. Some are living with relations in Miango town, while others are living in Internally Displaced People’s camps in the city of Jos.”

The Rev. Sunday Birih, pastor in charge of the ECWA congregation in Zanwra, told Morning Star News that Emmanuel Gado tried to rescue Mary, his niece, during the attack.

Emmanuel Lado was brother-in-law to Ladi Monday. Pastor Birih said she served as choir mistress and was a one-time leader of the Women’s Fellowship Group at Angwan Kauna.

Their story is repeated in the hundreds of thousands throughout Nigeria. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates violence in the country is responsible for more than 1.9 million people still internally displaced.

Previous Attack

Pastor Birih said the herdsmen had first attacked Zanwra and Angwan Kauna in late January. Killed were church members James Ninweh, 60, Monday Njweh, 49, and 50-year-old Saku Jerih, he said.

“It was during this first attack that my house was burnt down,” Pastor Birih said. “The herdsmen after this attack thought they had killed me and my family as they went round and proudly spread the news that the pastor and his family were burnt alive. But unknown to them, me and my family escaped during the attack before the house was burnt down.”

He credited Morning Star News’s coverage for the outpouring of support he received to rebuild his house after the attack. But the assaults displaced about half of the church’s former membership of about 400 worshippers, he said.

“When we returned after the attack in August, we set aside three days for fasting and prayers, and this has helped to ignite the revival fires in our hearts,” Pastor Birih said. “Other members are scattered in the town of Miango and in the city of Jos. Unfortunately, most houses of my members who survived these two attacks have been destroyed by rains because their owners have been displaced. Truly, my surviving members urgently need help to get back on their feet.”

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Pastors in Nigeria Say Military Complicit in Attacks on Christians

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Christian leaders meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria this month delivered a sharp rebuke, saying the military is complicit in attacks on Christians.

With the governor of Plateau state in attendance, the Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), delivered a report to Buhari at the presidential villa on Nov. 6 stating that 646 Christians in Plateau state alone were killed from March through October.

“The narrative has been that these people are killed by unknown gunmen, or suspected herdsmen, or that there have been farmer-herders clashes,” Datiri said in the report, obtained by Morning Star News. “All these are deceptive narratives deliberately framed to conceal the truth and continue to perpetrate the evil.”

The truth, he said, is that Muslim Fulani militias heavily armed with sophisticated guns, including AK47s, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades have attacked and killed Christians.

“After the attacks, it is the Fulani herders that settle and graze their cattle on the farms of the victims,” Datiri said in the report to the president. “The proficiency and mode of operation in all of these attacks, as testified by the surviving victims, leaves us in no doubt of the complicity of the military being used as hired mercenaries by the Fulani militias. On this, we are disappointed, and sadly so, that the government has not delivered on her constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property.”

Datiri said the herdsmen in collaboration with Boko Haram jihadists and other Muslim militants in the areas of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bassa and Bokkos destroyed 30 church buildings and 4,436 Christian homes, sending 38,000 Christians into 10 camps for displaced persons from March through October.

“Are we to believe that the armed forces sent to keep peace go with the instructions to protect them?” Datiri said. “The implication is that they protect the aggressors and leave the victims mercilessly helpless.”

Datiri pointed out that as the figures pertain only to Plateau state, they do not include those killed by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.

For his part, Plateau Gov. Simon Lalong reportedly faulted Muslim and other community leaders for compounding the crisis of violence in the state by hiding criminals.

Buhari, a Fulani Muslim, responded to the Christian leaders by saying he did not doubt COCIN’s report on the atrocities committed against their communities.

“The communities (in Plateau) have lived long enough to know that there is nothing they can do without each other than to live together in harmony,” Buhari said. “As leaders, we must persuade the upcoming generation using every channel, particularly the educational institutions, to live together with our neighbors.”

Christian and Muslim leaders have to work harder to convince the upcoming generation that they must live together in the same country, Buhari said.

“It is not all Muslims that are against Christians, and neither are all Christians against Muslims,” he said. “In our security arrangement, the police is in the frontline in making sure that communities irrespective of ethnic or religious bias live together in peace.”

Church Under Siege

Datiri told Buhari the church in Plateau state has been under siege for 18 years, bringing the 3 million COCIN members of the 104-year-old church to their knees across central and northern Nigeria.

“We are here to tell you the truth with the hope that it will help you to make adjustments and take appropriate action,” he said. “We are aware that you might have received several false and misleading information regarding the perennial crises. It is our hope that you will oblige us to tell you our concerns and pains affecting us and make suggestions that will bring about positive impacts on your government.”

With about 65 percent of the population of Plateau state belonging to the COCIN, the church leaders have first-hand knowledge of the true facts on the ground, he said.

“Your excellency, in the last 18 years, COCIN as a denomination has suffered destruction of lives and property more than any church or any community,” Datiri said. “The devastation in terms of massacre of lives and destruction of property is unimaginable. Pastors and members in their thousands have been killed in cold blood, either shot dead or slaughtered like animals or burned to death. Houses and businesses have been burned or looted and farmlands have been destroyed.”

COCIN has also suffered in the northeastern states of Yobe, Borno (in Maiduguri, Gwoza and Chibok, for example) and Adamawa states, he said.

“And yet, despite the huge government intervention in that area, very little relief has come to COCIN and her members, if any,” he said. “We are aware that a lot of government intervention in terms of relief material has gone to the northeast. Unfortunately, our members in that zone have been left out of the distribution.”

In the Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro counties of Bauchi state, where more than 90 percent of the population belongs to the COCIN, thousands of lives have been lost and billions of naira in property destroyed, Datiri said.

“We have also suffered heavy losses in Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kaduna states,” he said.

In Plateau state, where thousands of lives and billions of naira in property have also been lost, the devastation this year has been incredible, he said.

“Even on the day you visited Jos in March and launched the Peace Roadmap, your excellency, lives were being massacred in Bokkos and Bassa Local Government Areas,” Datiri said. “And in June, over 300 people (about 350) were massacred, slaughtered in cold blood over a period of three days in Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas. Since then, almost on a daily basis, people are either ambushed and shot dead or attacked in their homes and killed in cold blood or killed on their farms.”

The COCIN leaders sought the meeting with Buhari to correct misinformation about the nature of the violence, he said. They urged Buhari to take urgent measures to end the carnage and to rehabilitate and resettle displaced Christians.

“We have a lot of our members in the IDP camps and others living with relatives in other communities,” Datiri said. “There is an urgent need for them to return back to their homes to continue their farming activities, which is their main source of livelihood. Their lands and homes need to be recovered and rebuilt.”

The Internally Displaced People are depressed and broken and need rehabilitation, he said.

“They need to be reassured that the government is concerned of their welfare. Economically, they need to be re-equipped with farming tools, fertilizers and seeds,” he said. “The church has always been the last hope for the poor, downtrodden, depressed and broken. It is the first place for rehabilitation. If the IDPs are resettled in their various communities, their usual meeting points are their churches, schools and hospitals established by the same church. The church buildings and institutions should be rebuilt.”

Finally, he called on the government to secure the release of kidnapped Christians, including Leah Sharibu, a high school Christian abducted along with more than 100 other girls from Dapchi in February but not released with the others because she refused to recant her faith.

“We call on the federal government to take every adequate measure in ensuring their safe release from their abductors,” Datiri said.

About 100 of 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok, in Borno state, in 2014 are still missing.

Boko Haram, whose name is loosely translated as, “Western education is a sin,” has fought for more than nine years to impose Islamic law on all of Nigeria, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing more than 2 million. Boko Haram militants reportedly warned parents of the returned Dapchi girls not to send their daughters back to school.

In 2015 the Nigerian military began taking back most of the territory Boko Haram had controlled, but many areas remain, and the terrorists are still mounting isolated attacks. Jubilee Campaign reports that, according to figures from the Stefanos Foundation, Boko Haram in 2017 took responsibility for attacks that claimed more than 650 lives.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Dozens of Christians Killed in Muslim Attack on Market in Kaduna State, Nigeria

 

Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Wikipedia, Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslims attacked a market in Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria, on Thursday (Oct. 18), killing dozens of Christians and burning a church building, sources said.

Area residents said a Muslim at the market in Kasuwan Magani, 36 kilometers (22 miles) south of the city of Kaduna, began yelling “Thief!” in the late afternoon in a move calculated to cause pandemonium ahead of an attack on Christians and their homes and businesses.

“A Muslim raised a false alarm about a thief in the market, which caused stampede, and then other Muslims started chanting ‘Allahu Akbar [the jihadist slogan, God is Greater],’ attacking Christians, burning houses and shops belonging to Christians in the town,” area resident Kefas Mallam told Morning Star News.

The Rev. James Moore of the town’s Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), told Morning Star News that the assailants burned down one church building belonging to the Cherubim and Seraphim movement.

“There was an alert of a thief in the market,” he said. “When people heard ‘Thief! Thief!’ they were confused and started running. Unknown to the people, it was a strategy by the Muslim youth to attack the people. They went into killings, looting and burning.”

Moore, who is the area district secretary of the ECWA, said it was difficult to give a definitive casualty figure as the town was in complete lockdown following imposition of a 24-hour curfew the night of the attack. Kaduna Gov. Nasir El-Rufai visited the site in the Kajuru Local Government Area on Friday (Oct. 19) and said 55 people had been killed.

“According to what the police have briefed me so far, 55 corpses have been recovered; some burned beyond recognition,” he said.

Local press reported the violence began as an attack by young men attacking the market that escalated into a clash between “two youth groups of different religion.”

Gov. El-Rufai told reporters that the state government had imposed a curfew in the area and security agencies were restoring calm.

“It cannot continue, we are going to deal decisively with anyone involved in this,” he said. “This country belongs to all of us; this state belongs to all of us. No one is going to chase anyone away. So, you must learn to live with everyone in peace and justice.”

He added that the violence was “totally unacceptable,” and that anyone connected with or even observing the violence would be detained.

“I have charged the security agencies and the authorities here, local and traditional, to ensure that everyone connected with this, whether as a participant, instigator, or even watching while it is going on, is apprehended and prosecuted,” he said.

Area Muslims also attacked Christians on Feb. 26. Luke Waziri, a Christian community leader in Kasuwan Magani, told Morning Star News by phone that during the February attack, 12 Christians were killed.

“And 67 other Christians arrested after that incident are currently facing trial in a court in the city of Kaduna,” he added, lamenting that they were detained without cause by police under the direct control of a Muslim inspector general of police and a Muslim police commissioner.

“The sad thing is that the police are aware that Muslims in Kasuwan Magani have accumulated weapons with the intent to continually attack us, but they are unable to arrest these Muslims,” Waziri said.

Waziri, who is the national secretary of the Adara Development Association (ADA), a predominantly Christian ethnic group in Kaduna state, expressed sadness that while Christians had yet to overcome the trauma of the February attack, Muslims launched an assault on them again on Thursday (Oct. 18).

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

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