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Kidnappings Terrorize Christians in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Nurses, pastor’s wife taken, plus mass abduction from one village.

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria kidnapped a pastor’s wife from her home and two nurses from a hospital, while other Islamic extremists may have joined herdsmen in abducting more than 70 people from one village, sources said.

Fulaki Ozigi was kidnapped along with her husband, Mercy Place Ministry Church pastor Ozigi Hassan, and their four children from their home in Kudenda, in Kaduna state’s Chikun County, in the early hours of April 30, police said. Police pursuing the herdsmen into the forest were able to recover the pastor and the children, but the kidnappers escaped with Fulaki Ozigi, police spokesman Mohammed Jalige said.

At a public hospital in Idon, Kajuru County in southern Kaduna state, heavily armed Fulani herdsmen kidnapped two Christian nurses from a public hospital on the night of April 21, leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Nurses said. Cafra Caino, chairman of the Kajuru Local Government Council, identified the two women as Afiniki Bako and Grace Nkut.

A statement from the Fellowship of Christian nurses said they were “were very committed to sharing and living the gospel in their workplace.”

A nurse who escaped the attack, Rifkatu Alfred, said the herdsmen forced their way into the hospital shooting sporadically.

Nurse Afiniki Bako was kidnapped from a rural hospital in Kaduna state, Nigeria on April 21, 2021. (Fellowship of Christian Nurses)

“When they left, they called to say they were the kidnappers who abducted the two nurses, and if they are not given money, they will kill them,” Alfred told Morning Star News by phone, adding that they initially demanded 500 million naira (US$1.3 million) as ransom but later reduced it to 200 million naira (US$522,876).

Area resident Donatus Ayuba and Shingyu Shamnom, medical director of the hospital, concurred in separate messages to Morning Star News that the kidnappers were armed Fulani herdsmen.

Ishaku Yakubu, chairman of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives of Nigeria, Kaduna State Chapter, said the two nurses were serving the rural poor.

“We’re not safe, and health facilities in the state are no longer secured,” Yakubu said. “Beside the kidnapping of these two, five others were kidnapped before.”

Nurse Grace Zugwai Nkut was abducted in Kaduna state, Nigeria on April 21, 2021. (Fellowship of Christian Nurses)

Under Siege

In Libera Gida village, Kajuru County, militants from the Islamic extremist Boko Haram are suspected alongside herdsmen of kidnapping 72 residents on April 22, sources said.

Villagers counted 72 people missing after the late-night attack, 56 females and 16 males, according to a statement from Luka Binniyat, spokesman of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU). The kidnappers called their families on April 29 saying they had 77 Christians in captivity – with the additional five possibly coming from other raids – and that they would be killed if 350 million naira (US$915,033) were not paid, Binniyat said.

The Kaduna state government failed to make any mention of the mass abduction in its regular updates on security in the state, he said.

“Meanwhile, after unceasing siege on Christian farming communities in Kajuru LGA, more Christian communities have fallen under the control of these armed men, which we now suspect to be a coalition of armed herdsmen and Boko Haram,” Binniyat said.

The number of communities captured by armed herdsmen in Kajuru County is now 31, and throughout southern Kaduna state they have taken no fewer than 100 communities, he said.

The Rev. Solomon Tafida, senior pastor of Salvation Baptist Church, Kaduna, estimated there are 4,000 Christians held captive in Kaduna state by either herdsmen or Boko Haram.

“Most of the Christian victims who escaped from the camps of the herdsmen say there are over 4,000 Christians being held in captive camps in forests along the Kaduna-Abuja highway, near Rijana village,” he said.

The Kaduna state government’s quarterly security report stated that a total of 323 persons were killed and 949 others kidnapped by bandits in three months across the state.

“Deaths linked to banditry, violent attacks, communal clashes and reprisals in the first quarter total 323 across the state,” said Samuel Aruwan, commissioner for internal security and home affairs, who released the report on April 30. “Of these, 20 were women and 11 were minors.”

Nigeria led the world in number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990, according to Open Doors’ 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. 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 the report.

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.

Christian Leaders Killed in Middle Belt of Nigeria

Pastor Jeremiah Ibrahim was buried on Dec. 11 at a funeral service at the ECWA church in Garatu village, Bosso County, Niger state, Nigeria. (Facebook).

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Mayhem continued in Nigeria as suspected Fulani herdsmen burned down the venue of a planned Christian conference in Kaduna state and earlier killed two clergymen in the country’s Middle Belt, sources said.

In Niger state in Nigeria’s Middle Belt northwest of Abuja, suspected Fulani herdsmen kidnapped and killed a Catholic priest on Jan. 15, and an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) pastor was killed on Dec. 10.

The Rev. John Gbaakan Yaji of the Roman Catholic diocese of Minna served St. Anthony’s Parish in Gulu and was also dean of the Lapai Deanery. Gbaakan and his brother were returning from a trip to Benue state when they were ambushed at Tufa village, along the Lambata-Lapai highway, at about 9 p.m., according to the Rev. John Jatau, a priest at St. Theresa Catholic Parish Madalla.

“The priest was taken by his captors into the bush, where he was tied to a tree and killed,” Jatau told Morning Star News by text message. “His corpse was found by a search party the following day.”

Gbaakan’s brother was kidnapped and his whereabouts were unknown, said Jatau, who had traveled with them to Benue and had left them at Suleja, where they proceeded on their journey while Jatau returned to his parish in Madalla.

The Rev. Mathias Echioda, chairman of the Niger state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), decried rampant kidnappings and killings in the state.

“We see such acts as wickedness motivated by religious motives,” Echioda said by text message. “There’s the urgent need for Nigeria’s government to put an end to these barbaric acts.”

The Rev. John Hayab, CAN vice chairman in Northern Nigeria, said people there live in fear.

“The spirit of violence has taken over the hearts of herdsmen, and Christians have become their targets of attacks,” Hayab told Morning Star News by text message. “Priests and pastors now face tough times as they face gruesome death.”

Also in Niger state, suspected herdsmen killed ECWA pastor Jeremiah Ibrahim on Dec. 10 in Chukuba village, Shiroro County. He was the pastor of the ECWA congregation in Kobwa Kuta.

His brother-in-law, Peter John, said the assailants attacked the ECWA church premises where the pastor’s home was located.

“My sister has become a widow,” and her two children have lost their father, he told Morning Star News by text message. “Oh God, rise on your throne and fight those bandits and hoodlums in Erena and Shiroro and all other places in Nigeria.”

ECWA leaders in Kuta said in a press statement that Pastor Ibrahim was shot in the early hours of Dec. 10. The Rev. Adamu Na’Allah, district secretary of the ECWA, Minna District Church Council, said Pastor Ibrahim and his wife were in Chukuba village to harvest crops from their farm when they were attacked.

“A day before they could start the harvest, the bandits came and attacked the church’s pastorium,” Na’Allah told Morning Star News. “Ibrahim and another pastor who was also in the house at the time of the attack hid in the ceiling of the house. And when they felt everything was quiet, they came down from the ceiling, but unknown to them the bandits were still lurking around the premises. Rev Ibrahim dropped from the ceiling and was immediately shot by the bandits, resulting to his death.”

Five Christian women, including the wife of the deceased pastor, were abducted and released after payment of a ransom, he said.

Pastor Ibrahim was buried on Dec. 11 after a funeral service at the ECWA church in Garatu village, Bosso County, Niger state.

Conference Venue Burned Down

On Wednesday (Jan. 27), suspected herdsmen burned down the building where a Christian conference was to have been held Friday through Sunday in Zonzon, Zangon Kataf County, Kaduna state, sources said.

ECWA pastor Love Zidon said the ECWA Youth Fellowship Conference of Zonzon District Church Council was to be held at the venue that herdsmen destroyed Wednesday evening.

A 48-second video clip sent to Morning Star News purports to show the destruction of the conference site. One of the conference organizers says in the video, “The enemy, Hausa/Fulani, came and burned it down completely; therefore, how can peace be obtainable in Atyap land with all these types of atrocities? Therefore, I call on the government for a quick action.”

At the same time, the Kaduna state government confirmed the arrest of three armed herdsmen suspected of attacking Christian communities in southern Kaduna state. Samuel Aruwan, commissioner of the state’s Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, issued a statement on Jan. 22 saying that two “bandits,” the government’s term for herdsmen, were arrested by personnel of the Nigerian army in Zangon Kataf County.

“The two suspects, Abdulhameed Abubakar Bala and Abubakar Abdulhameed Garba, were arrested following a tip-off in connection with their alleged involvement in a series of attacks on Gora Gan, Damkasuwa, Zonzon and Kwaku in December 2020,” Aruwan said. “The suspects are in the troops’ custody undergoing preliminary investigation.”

He said soldiers arrested a third suspect, Shehu Musa, in connection with an attack on predominantly Christian communities in Zangon Kataf, after security agents trailed him to a hospital where he was receiving treatment.

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 Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List. In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.

Nigeria led the world in number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990, according to the WWL report. In the 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 the previous year.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.

In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated Islamic State West Africa Province (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.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

Christians Killed in Central and Southwestern Nigeria

Suspected Fulani herdsmen kill pastor in Ekiti state.

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen attacks on predominantly Christian communities in Kaduna state on Saturday night and Sunday morning (Nov. 28-29) killed seven Christians, two days after a pastor was slain in southwestern Nigeria, sources said.

The “Fulani terrorists” in Kaduna state also kidnapped two children and wounded four people in the attacks on Ungwar Bido and Ungwar-Pah, near Jagindi in Jema’a County, area resident Samuel Auta told Morning Star News.

He and a Kaduna state official were unable to obtain the ages of the children, while the official identified only six of those killed: Silas Maman, Malaki Tabat, Geofree Andrew, Anna Ahmadu, Sunday Tagwai and Fidelis Musa, all of Ungwar Bido village. Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, in a press statement identified the two missing children as Rebecca Andrew and Clement Andrew and the four wounded as Adamu Mangai, Matta Silas, Yaro Musa and Yaro Andrew.

The assailants also burned down four houses, he said.

“The houses of Adamu Mangai, Gideon Nuhu, Andrew Adamu and Alphonsus Michael were razed down by the attackers,” Aruwan said. “The state government condemns these attacks and the loss of lives and has directed security agencies to investigate and arrest all persons involved in the criminal actions.”

Earlier this month, suspected Fulani in Kaduna state’s Zangon Kataf County killed Christian community leader Haruna Kuye and his son, Destiny Kuye, in Gidan Zaki village, according to Luka Binniyat, spokesman of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU).

“Both father and son were sleeping in their home in Gidan Zaki village when they were brutally shot dead” on Nov. 17, he said in a statement to Morning Star News. “The dastardly murder of the district head of Mazaki in Atyap Chiefdom, Zangon Kataf, and his teenage son stands totally condemned. It was a well-planned murder by evil men who sneaked into the village and headed for his home and unleashed terror. The heartless killers also attacked his wife and daughter, but they survived with injuries.”

Aruwan said in a statement that area soldiers reported Kuye’s wife sustained machete wounds while his daughter was shot in the hand.

“The security report further stated that the attack was carried out by about five men wielding AK-47 rifles and machetes, who also tried to burn the house and a vehicle in the premises,” Aruwan said.

Binniyat also reported killings in Chikun County.

“Pray for the Christians of Katarma village in Chikun Local Government Area,” he said. “Most Christian villages on that axis have been destroyed in the past three days, many killed, and some kidnapped.”

Binniyat said SOKAPU is calling on the Kaduna and federal governments to assist thousands of displaced people in southern Kaduna state.

“Most of them are living under sub-human conditions, especially children, women, the old and infirm,” he said. “In Kallah, Rimau and Geffe, Christian communities all in Kallah ward, Kajuru Local Government Area, thousands of displaced Christians are in dire need of food and medical services.”

Likewise, Christians in Chikun County have fled their homes after Fulani militia unleashed terror on them and occupied their communities, he said. Thousands of displaced Christians have taken refuge in Unguwan Bijeh, Buyaya, Goning Gora, Unguwan Madaki and other areas south of the Kaduna River, he said.

“No citizens deserve to be so neglected and abandoned by its government after it has failed in its cardinal responsibility of securing their lives and property,” Binniyat said.

Pastor Killed

In southwest Nigeria’s Ekiti state, suspected Fulani herdsmen on Thursday or Friday (Nov. 26-27) killed the Rev. Johnson Oladimeji as he traveled home from to Ikere-Ekiti, where he leads a congregation of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, the president of Ekiti Baptist Church Conference said in a statement.

The Rev. Johnson Oladimeji, killed in Ekiti state, Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

Pastor Oladimeji’s family members had made a series of phone calls when he did not return from visiting his mother in Osun state on Thursday (Nov. 26), the Rev. Adeyinka Aribasoye said. Pastor Oladimeji’s body was found in his car on Friday (Nov. 27).

“The herdsmen who were hiding in the forest along the highway shot at his vehicle,” Pastor Aribasoye told Morning Star News. “Rev. Oladimeji was hit by bullets that were shot by the herdsmen. A search team made of Baptist church members found out that he had been killed on the highway.”

A funeral wake for the slain pastor was planned for Monday (Nov. 30), with burial scheduled for the next day.

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 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.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Burkina Faso: Fulani pastor brings hope to stigmatised communities

Photo: RobertoVi

(World Watch Monitor) The disproportionate presence of ethnic Fulani among Islamist militants wreaking havoc in the Sahel and West Africa has led to a stigmatisation of the Fulani generally, says a Protestant pastor from Burkina Faso.

In April security forces went into Djibo, a town in the northern part of Burkina Faso and killed 31 unarmed Fulani men. The men were rounded up after their IDs had been checked.

A former inhabitant of the village told Radio France Internationale the security forces “go to the villages where these people grew up and look for their relatives. The relatives don’t support terrorism, they are living in their villages. But they detain these people who they see as complicit in terrorism”.

“There is not a very good view of the Fulani,” said Adama, himself Fulani and a pastor in central Burkina Faso who asked not to be identified by his real name for security reasons.

“They are regarded as militants taking part in jihadi attacks, causing trouble in the Sahel region. But that is not all that there is to it. Not all Fulani are terrorists and not all terrorists are Fulani. We, the Fulani, are also the image of God and one first needs to see that,” he told World Watch Monitor. In Burkina Faso the Fulani make up 6.3% of the population.

‘More serious challenge than Covid-19’

Adama studied theology in the UK but returned to Burkina Faso in 2008 to serve among his own people. “Things are not the same as they were,” he said. “Burkinabe people are under increased pressure. We have got to watch our backs all the time. What we are dealing with is a far more serious challenge than Covid-19”.

Burkina Faso has become vulnerable to the instability plaguing the greater Sahel region caused by a number of Islamist extremist militia groups. The country not only battles widespread poverty – 40.1% of the population living below the national poverty line, a power vacuum following a coup in 2014 and the spread of radical Islamist teachings have provided fertile soil.

“The terrorism activities have hit us so quickly,” Adama said. “These groups moved in and took control of areas where there was less government presence and the population had little access to education, health care etc. Many areas of Burkina’s northern and eastern regions have now become ‘no-go’ areas.”

As a result of the violence, many churches and schools in these regions have closed and people have fled to other parts of the country.

Pastor Adama has been trying to help those who decided to stay as well as other vulnerable communities.  A training centre in a village in central Burkina Faso offers skills training and people can take what they have learned back to their villages: “Now many of these villages have shops, restaurants etc – things they did not have before.” His ministry also organises quarterly “community health days” in which doctors are invited to visit communities to avoid people having to travel to the nearest city for healthcare.

“In the midst of stigmatisation and the terrorism agenda which brings violence, we bring peace and transformation into these communities,” he said.

Who are the Fulani?

The Fula people, often described as the Fulani, are regarded as the world’s largest nomadic group: an estimated 40 million people dispersed across 20 nations, mostly in Western Africa. The majority resides in Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, and Niger but they also can be found in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic and Egypt.

They speak Fula languages as well as Hausa, English, French and Arabic.

The centuries-old Fulani heritage is pastoral, organized primarily around nomadic herding of cattle, sheep and goats, though segments of the Fulani farm crops or live in urban areas.

The Fulani were early adopters of Islam, participating in holy wars, or jihads, in the 16th Century that established them as a dominant social and economic force in Western Africa.

Conflict

As the frontier of the Sahara Desert has moved southward, Fulani herds have gradually been pushed southward, causing conflicts with farming communities. In regions such as Nigeria’s Middle Belt, however, the conflicts have become more sinister than simple land disputes that boil over into violence. Many of the farmers belong to the ethnic Berom, mostly Christian, indigenous people, and the attacks have taken on an ethnic and religious character.

In Burkina Faso the Fulani are targeted for recruitment by terrorist groups such as Ansar ul Islam — a homegrown group which emerged in 2016 – that has been responsible for many of the attacks in the northern and eastern parts of the country. The armed violence by Ansar ul Islam and other radical groups moving in from Mali, has displaced at least 1 million people.

Muslim Fulani Herdsmen Kill 14 Baptist Christians in Kogi State, Nigeria

One of 14 Christians killed in Agbadu-Daruwana, Kogi state, Nigeria on July 29. (All Africa Baptist Fellowship Facebook)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Muslim Fulani herdsmen raid on a village in central Nigeria’s Kogi state on Wednesday (July 29) killed 14 Baptist Christians, including 13 members of an extended family, sources said.

Police said the wife, mother, all the children and other relatives of one man – 13 in all – were killed in the 2 a.m. attack on Agbadu-Daruwana. He also lost his younger brother, an aunt and uncle and a sister-in-law, Kogi State Command Commissioner of Police Ede Ayuba said in a statement.

“In that family, it is only one person that survived,” Ayuba said.

Leaders of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship posted on the group’s Facebook page that the victims were members of the Bethel Baptist church in Agbadu-Daruwana, part of the Lokoja Baptist Association of Kogi State Baptist Conference.

“They have since been buried,” the post read. “All the community members, mainly Christians, have all fled. Please pray for God’s intervention against antichrist in the land.”

Area resident Rachael Nuhu told Morning Star News in text messages that the assailants were Fulanis, predominantly Muslim cattle herders who also have attacked surrounding villages.

“They invaded the village armed with guns and riding motorcycles,” Nuhu said. “They were speaking in the Fulani language as they attacked our people. This is not the first time they’re attacking our communities, as other villages around us had been attacked in a similar way by these herdsmen.”

Commissioner Ayuba said that in addition to the 14 persons killed, six were wounded.

Police and government officials are under pressure from the Nigerian government of President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, to refrain from mentioning Fulanis in herdsmen attacks, and Kogi Gov. Yahaya Bello condemned the attack by “heartless criminals” in Kogi/Koto Karfe County.

In a statement by Chief Press Secretary Onogwu Muhammed on Thursday (July 30), Bello vowed to sustain operations against “criminal elements.”

In March 2018 Fulani herdsmen reportedly killed 32 people in Kogi state’s Dekina and Omala counties. Wearing military fatigues and armed with AK-47 assault rifles, they also burned down 20 homes.

The previous month, Bello had reportedly donated 15,000 hectares of land to Fulani herders under a controversial federal government cattle colony policy. He said at that time that Fulani herdsmen would be brought to the land since the state didn’t have an anti-grazing law as neighboring Benue state did.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Muslim Fulanis Kill Two Christians, Kidnap Two Others in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Muslim Fulanis destroyed homes in attack on Ungwan Anjo village, Kaduna state. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Armed Muslim Fulanis killed two Christians in Kaduna state, Nigeria on Saturday (May 16), days after two others were kidnapped, sources said.

Christians Isa Dauda and John Zaman were killed in the 8 p.m. attack on the predominantly Christian village of Ungwan Anjo, near Godogodo town in Jema’a County, area resident Aku Joshua Shai told Morning Star News in a text message. He said four churches in the village were closed as all Christians had fled.

“Almost all houses in Ungwan Anjo were burnt down,” Shai said. “Churches affected in Ungwan Anjo include the ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All], Anglican, ERCC [Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ], and the Redeemed Christian Church of God [RCCG].”

Two days earlier, leaders of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) described attacks in the state as genocidal.

“The ongoing attacks on our communities points to the fact that there is a deliberate ethnic cleansing ripping across southern Kaduna which the authorities have turned a blind eye to,” SOKAPU President Jonathan Asake said at a May 14 press conference in the city of Kaduna.

Asake said that Fulani herdsmen attacked Gonar Rogo, Kajuru County on May 11, the next day set fire to homes in Bakin Kogi, displacing residents, and also struck Idanu village.

“In the early hours of Wednesday (May 13), the murderous gang of terrorists moved to Makyali, where several persons were killed. In Agwala village, an old lady was mercilessly hacked to death,” Asake said. “In total, these attacks have so far claimed 27 lives within 48 hours, while the injured have been taken to various medical facilities for attention. Efele, Ungwan Modi, and Ungwan Rana villages were also attacked, and hundreds of residents displaced.”

Some 15,000 Christians were displaced in the Kajuru attacks, he said, “without any intervention from the authorities.”

The SOKAPU leader said that the herdsmen invaded and occupied the predominantly Christian community of Galiwyi in Chikun County, holding some women captive and making them their sex slaves.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all attacks, invasions and killings are properly documented. SOKAPU has the names of towns and identities of victims of these mindless attacks on our communities, with some of them widely published,” Asake said. “We insist that the recent invasions are a continuation of a deliberate and entrenched agenda of subjugating and occupying our ancestral lands.”

Kidnappings

Fulani Muslims kidnapped two Christians in Kaduna state last week, while in neighboring Plateau state police rescued the abducted 6-year-old daughter of a university lecturer shot and killed by kidnappers, sources said.

Muslim Fulanis in Kaduna state’s Giwa County on May 12 abducted two members of a Catholic church in Zango Tama and then returned on May 14 to attack the village, local resident Nenfort Thomas told Morning Star News in a text message.

Abducted were Amina Yakubu, a former financial secretary of the Women’s Fellowship group of St. Ann’s Catholic Parish in Zango Tama, and Ayuba Sarkin Noma Udoji, a member of the parish, Thomas said.

Thomas said the armed Fulanis then returned to attack the village in the early hours of May 14.

“The armed Muslim bandits attacked us with guns and machetes,” Thomas told Morning Star News. “The attack against us lasted for two hours. The situation is now calmed, but there is much tension as to whether our church members kidnapped two days earlier will be released or killed by the bandits. It’s on this note that we plead to our Christian brethren to earnestly pray for the release of these innocent members of our parish.”

Amid growing lawlessness in Kaduna state, a Baptist pastor who is chairman of the Kaduna chapter of CAN condemned recent killings and kidnappings there.

“Recently, the general frenzy is that despite the continuing attacks on hapless Kajuru communities, those responsible for ensuring the security of lives and property are only but playing lips service to the security challenge,” the Rev John Hayab said in a May 14 press statement. “Apparently, the honesty and commitment towards seeking lasting solutions to wanton destructions of lives are lacking, resorting to the usual propaganda. No responsible government anywhere will act as if nothing was happening when a section of her citizens are killed.”

Christian Lecturer Killed

While it was unknown if he was targeted for his faith, in Plateau state a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Jos was shot dead at about midnight of May 15 by assailants who broke into his home and kidnapped his 6-year-old daughter, according to published reports.

Dr. Kennedy Nendi Drengkat, a member of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), was reportedly at his home at the staff quarters of the university. The assailants abducted his young daughter, Joanna Drengkat, and security personnel and vigilantes recovered her and another kidnapped person after a shoot-out with the fleeing kidnappers in hills on the border of Plateau and Bauchi states, police said.

Officers, mobile units, operatives from an anti-kidnapping unit and vigilantes were deployed and sighted the kidnappers on a hill where a shoot-out began, Plateau State Commissioner of Police Edward Egbuka told reporters.

“In the process, one of the kidnappers named Ali Mohammed of Narabi was shot on his right leg and was arrested with one AK-47 rifle,” Egbuka said.

Police recovered 29 rounds of ammunition from Mohammed and rescued the previously kidnapped Chiboze Joseph as the wounded assailants fled, Egbuka said.

“We also extended our search for the last kidnapped victim to the hills around Babale village in Jos North Local Government Area, and upon sighting the combined teams, the hoodlums opened fire on them,” Egbuka said. “The teams overpowered the hoodlums, which led to the rescue of the kidnapped victim, Joanna Drengkat, 6 years old, unhurt. The manhunt for the fleeing suspect continues.”

Young Joanna spoke at a police press conference on Sunday (May 17), saying four assailants came to her house.

“When they shot my father, they asked me to follow them, and one of them was dragging me along, because they were moving very fast, and we ended up in the bush on top of a hill,” she said. “They told me that they would not release me if my people did not give them money. While they were talking, we started hearing gunshots. At that point, the kidnappers abandoned me and ran away, and the police came and rescued me.”

The Rev. Soja Bewarang, a COCIN pastor and chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Plateau State Chapter, commended Plateau police in a press statement.

“The CAN commiserates with the wife, family, and Jos University community on the sad murder of their promising husband, relation and lecturer, Dr. Drengkat, with the prayer that God Almighty will comfort you all,” Pastor Bewarang said. “The CAN leadership commends the gallantry of the police and admonishes them to hold onto and multiply their commitment in fizzling out crimes and apprehending criminals.”

In a broadcast on Sunday (May 17), Plateau Gov. Simon Bako Lalong offered condolences to the family of the slain lecturer and said security forces had arrested a suspected mastermind behind kidnappings in the Eto-Baba, Bauchi Road area.

On Jan. 30, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Heinous Attacks Against Christians in Nigeria under-reported

The coronavirus affecting Nigeria is dominating the headlines which has pushed news reports of Christians being slaughtered by Islamists even further to the back burner.

 April 16 – A Christian student was killed in an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state on Thursday night (April 16), a week after a pastor was slain at his church building residence in southern Nigeria, sources said. According to area residents, After his college in northwest Nigeria was closed due to the coronavirus, Sebastine Stephen was visiting his home in a suburb of the city of Kaduna, when armed Fulani attacked at about 11:30 p.m. , reported Morning Star News.

“Sebastine Stephen was shot when the armed Fulani herdsmen attacked Gbagyi Villa area in Chikun Local Government Area in the southern end of the city of Kaduna,” area resident Hosea Yusuf told Morning Star News. “Stephen raised alarm, warning residents about the invasion of our community as he was still outside at the time the herdsmen came to attack the community. The herdsmen instantly shot him and then proceeded to enter one of the houses close to them, where they kidnapped a couple.”

“The Fulani herdsmen were over 50 carrying sophisticated guns and shooting sporadically,” Chris Obodumu told Morning Star News. “After they killed the young man, Sebastine Stephen, they then broke into the house of Mr. Jack Nweke and abducted him with his wife, leaving behind their three children.” He said he feared the herdsmen may return to attack again. Gbagyi Villa community leader Martins Emmanuel said the herdsmen simultaneously attacked both Gbagyi Villa and the nearby area of Mararaban Rido.

April 14 – Six children and a pregnant woman were among nine people that Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed in north-central Nigeria 0n April 14, sources said.

About a dozen herdsmen armed with rifles and machetes raided Hura-Maiyanga village, in the Miango area of Kwall District in Plateau state’s Bassa County, shouting the jihadist slogan “Allahu Akbar [God is greater],” sources said.

“They were armed with machetes and AK-47 rifles as they attacked us,” Hanatu John, a woman who survived the attack, told Morning Star News. “They attacked our village at about 8 p.m., and they were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ as they shot into our houses.” The assailants were speaking Fulfulde, the Fulani language, as they shot into homes, she said.

“Most families had already retired into houses to sleep when these Fulani gunmen came into the village and were shooting into houses. As the herdsmen shot at us, we all ran out from our houses into the surrounding bushes. Some of the herdsmen chased after us and shot at us, while others were burning down our houses.”

“Hura hamlet of Maiyanga village in Kwall District, Miango Chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau state was invaded on the night of 14th by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen, who surrounded the entire area and unleashed mayhem on the unsuspecting natives,” Mwantiri told Morning Star News by text message. “As a result, nine persons were gruesomely killed and two injured while 33 houses were completely torched by fire. Most of the persons killed were children.”

The ages of the children were 3, 6, two were 7, 15 and an unborn baby.  Over 250 persons, mostly women and children, have been displaced.

Miango resident Grace Gye sent a message to the Plateau state government on April 15, calling on state and federal governments “to protect the people and their property.” She questioned why Fulani herdsmen were moving about freely in spite of a lockdown in the face of the novel coronavirus.

The Rev. Ronku Aka, a former Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) pastor and now community leader of the Irigwe ethnic group, lamented incessant attacks on predominantly Christian communities.

“So many of my people have been killed over the years, including the attack of last night, In spite of promises from the government to my people, the herdsmen have continuously been attacking our communities.”

“I am begging the international community to come to the aid of our people! this killing is too much,” Aka told Zenger. “More than the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Fulanis are killing my people. Despite the lockdown,” Aka told Zenger News.

The attack on Maiyanga comes on the heels of attacks by herdsmen in the area last month. On March 31, Christians were killed at Ancha village; the next day three more Christians were slain in the predominantly Christian community of Nkiedow-hro village, and seven others were killed in Hukke village. On Jan. 14, 2018, armed herdsmen killed one Christian and wounded two others in an attack on Maiyanga village.

There is also a report shared on April 16 of Moses Gata, a resident from a targeted village, being abused by authorities after he criticized Nigerian police and military for withdrawing from a region where Muslim militants have killed at least 20 Christians.

“I blamed the security for withdrawal of soldiers at the checkpoints and hence the attacks when it was barely a week after the withdrawal,” Gata told Zenger News, explaining why he may have been targeted for retaliation.

“I also complained about the government inability to set up programs such as bringing relief materials to homeless people, rehabilitation program, resettlement program, reconstruction program of any sorts,” he said.

He claimed the captain told him, ’You’re going to respect the uniform from now on, aren’t you, little boy!’ as he hosed me down from head to toe in ice cold water.”  Gata said he was ordered to roll back and forth on the concrete porch of a temporary army barrack for close to two hours until he was rescued by an elected official who had heard from family about his predicament.

April 13 – Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria decapitated two Christians in Benue state.

According to residents, herdsmen ambushed two members of a Catholic church in  Ologba village at about 8 a.m. on Monday. “Oche Alaade and his friend who had visited the village were traveling out of the village on their way back to Obagaji town where they reside when they were ambushed by the Fulani herdsmen and their heads cut off,” area resident Louis Oguche told Morning Star News in a text message. Oyaje Sule, uncle of Oche Alaade, confirmed the killings in a statement issued to local press on Monday evening. The murders follow a herdsmen attack on two Christians the previous week who are receiving hospital treatment for their wounds, Sule said. Agatu, a predominantly Christian area in the north-central state of Benue, has been under siege by herdsmen in the past four years, with many Christians killed and displaced.

April 11 – A group of herdsmen in Plateau state on shot a Christian farmer dead.

Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 30-year-old Christian farmer Mabur Mallo Gwang in Maiduna village, Daffo District of Bokkos County, area residents said. Armed with guns and machetes, four armed herdsmen forced their way into the victim’s house attacked him. Neighbors fled into the nearby bushes when they heard the gunshots, The victim was a member of the local Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) congregation. Yusuf Machen, chairman of the Bokkos Local Government Council, confirmed the attack when contacted by Morning Star News. “We are deeply saddened about such incessant attacks on the communities in Bokkos Local Government Area,” Machen said.

Herdsmen have attacked Christian communities in Bokkos County over the past three years, as well as Christians in the counties of Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Jos South, Mangu and Riyom, residents told Morning Star News. In the Daffo area in the past two years, more than 40 Christians have been killed, 11 communities destroyed and more than 7,000 people displaced, they said.

April 10 – In southern Nigeria’s Delta state, church members identified two armed men who came to the church building the night of April 10 and shot and stabbed pastor Stephen Akpor as Fulani herdsmen. He was 55.

Pastor Akpor, whose residence was on the church premises, was praying and counseling members of his church in Ibusa at about 8:30 p.m. at Breakthrough Cathedral, a local fellowship of the Celestial Church of Christ, church leaders told Morning Star News via text messages. “Two herdsmen came to a branch of our church, Celestial Church at Ibusa in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta state, where they shot him as he was praying and counseling five members in the church,” a senior leader of the church, Isaiah George, church, told Morning Star News.

Pastor Akpor reportedly retreated to his room before the assailants shot him through a window. The pastor’s wife was inside the building at the time, but she and the other church members escaped unhurt, George said. “The herdsmen shot the pastor several times and then stabbed him to death,” he said.

Another church leader, Peter Lotobi, said he received a phone call at the time of the herdsmen attack and immediately contacted police. “By the time the police got to the church, the herdsmen had already killed the pastor and retreated from the church premises,” Lotobi told Morning Star News. “His corpse was removed and taken by the police to the mortuary of General Hospital, Ibusa.” Pastor Akpor reportedly is survived by five children along with his wife.

Attacks by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen, most of them in the north-central part of the country, have drifted to southern Nigerian states as far back as 2016. Recently Muslim Fulani herdsmen in southern communities have reportedly taken over farmlands.

March 22 – Herdsmen attacked Div-Nzaav village in Kwande County as Christians were about to begin worship in the village church. “The Fulanis attacked us on Sunday; they shot and killed Tarfa Simon, while Ngusonon Kighir, a woman and member of our community, was cut with a machete,” Amande said in a text message to Morning Star News.

The attacked members of the Universal Reformed Christian Church (Nongu u Kristu u i Ser u sha Tar, or NKST) who escaped fled to Jato-Aka village, he added. “The herdsmen also kidnapped two Christian women from the village who were rescued a few days after the attack,” Amande said. “These attacks against us by the herdsmen have become incessant for several years.”

March 5 – Herdsmen also attacked Mbanyiar village in Guma County at about 2 a.m., residents said. Oliver Tyoor Chado of Mbanyiar said the herdsmen kidnapped his wife and destroyed houses, food and animals belonging to Christians.

“The herdsmen, who were about a dozen, were armed with AK-47 rifles,” Chado told Morning Star News. “My wife and two other members of our village were kidnapped and taken away by the herdsmen; but they were eventually rescued by security agents after they were tortured by the herdsmen.” He said displaced Christians have fled to Daudu town.

March 6 – In Guma County, seven NKST members were killed when Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked villagers at a funeral wake in Chongu village, sources said. Chongu resident Zaki Usuah he and others were holding a wake at about 11 p.m. when the Fulani herdsmen attacked. “The wake was for one of our deceased elders in our church, NKST church, who was to be buried the following morning at Chongu,” Usuah said. “Suddenly we heard sounds of gun shots all around us. Those killed in the attack include Chikwa, Taza Abuur, Tarnum Yanum and four others.”

March 3 – In Abaji village three weeks earlier, also in Kwande County, armed herdsmen stormed the area in droves, residents said. They attacked at about 10 a.m on March 3, according to area resident Aloysius Yaga.

“Eight of our people were killed, and six others were kidnapped by the herdsmen during the attack,” Yaga told Morning Star News by text message. “The herdsmen shot indiscriminately at us and injured many others through machete cuts. I narrowly escaped being killed.”

March 2 – In northwestern Nigeria, Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Niger state on March 24 killed at least 20 people in two predominantly Christian villages and on March 2 kidnapped eight Christians in raids on a mission station, sources said.

The attacks on the villages of Galkogo and Zumba, killing more than 20 people, displaced 3,000 people, area residents told Morning Star News.

In Niger state’s Shiroro County, Fulani herdsmen raided a school in Maruba run by Calvary Ministries (CAPRO), kidnapping four missionaries, two volunteer staff members, another staff member and one student, according to Niyi Gbade, the ministry’s national director. Ask God to release them unharmed now,” Gbade told Morning Star News in a text message. The school’s head teacher was shot and received hospital treatment, he said. “Pray for the remaining missionaries on the base, that they will not be kidnapped, and that those being held should be released from any form of captivity,” Gbade said.

Herdsmen also raided Global Glorious Mission in Gofa, Shiroro County, on March 22, forcing missionaries and students to flee into bushes, according to a mission press statement last month. “The Fulani herdsmen entered, ransacked and looted our Gofa field of Shiroro LGA, Niger and environs,” the statement read. “Some of the brethren have gone back in the night, and some returning this morning. Please stand with us in prayer for God’s intervention over this menace.”

In the past year, armed Fulani herdsmen have carried out a series of raids on Christian communities in the northwest, sending people fleeing to camps for the displaced.

On Jan. 30, (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. The warning was issued in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’

Dr. Samson Ayokunle, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President said, “Christians have become an endangered species in their own country. “Nigeria is under a siege orchestrated by the murderous bloodthirsty and criminally-minded Boko Haram terrorists, Fulani terrorist herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers.” He also called the government to account for its inaction in the face of the escalating conflict and the culture of impunity in Nigeria.

sources here, here and here

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

Nigeria: ‘Government is Boko Haram but without bomb’, says church leader

 

 

Wala Village attack Nigeria Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, went to the United Kingdom last week to discuss trade and investment amid increased criticism from church leaders back home who say the government is effectively enabling attacks on Christians in the country.

“They [the government] are using the levers of power to secure the supremacy of Islam, which then gives more weight to the idea that it can be achieved by violence,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto told the charity Aid to the Church in Need earlier this month. “With the situation in Nigeria, it is hard to see the moral basis they have to defeat Boko Haram.”

The bishop spoke out after the beheading of 10 Christians by the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) on Christmas day and an attack by the Islamist group Boko Haram on Christmas eve in which seven people were killed.

“The only difference between the government and Boko Haram is Boko Haram is holding a bomb,” the bishop said, adding the Buhari government had created the environment in which Islamist groups like Boko Haram could thrive.

“It is not a lie that this government is favoring Islam,” said Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, a prominent evangelical leader in Nigeria, pointing at how Buhari’s political appointments are all Muslim while Nigeria’s population is a nearly even balance of Christian and Muslim.

There have been too many unfulfilled promises, he told Nigeria Everyday. Para-Mallam has been an advocate for the release of Leah Sharibu, a Christian teenager who was abducted by Boko Haram almost two years ago and is believed to still be detained by the group. Last year Buhari promised her family he would do all he could to bring her back. “If the government is truly committed to ending some of these impunities, the crises and the attacks on Christians would have stopped, a lot more could have been done to achieve this,” said the pastor.

Nigeria is 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Just as in 2019, Nigeria’s score for violence was at maximum, due to attacks by Islamist Fulani militants, Boko Haram and other armed groups. Some 1,350 Nigerian Christians lost their lives in the violence.

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