JOS, Nigeria, December 29, 2014 (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed five Christians in one state, including an infant boy, and 10 in another on Dec. 17.
In Taraba state in the northeast, more than 100 Muslim Fulani herdsmen invaded Sabon Gida Shagogo village in the Donga Local Government Area in the early morning, area resident Ahijo Uhaa Gbasha said. Attacking at about 4 a.m. when military soldiers on routine patrol had just left the village, the assailants set fire to church buildings and houses as they killed 10 Christians, he said.
“We have buried those killed in the attack, and the sad thing is that this is not the first time that such an attack was carried out on Christian communities here,” Gbasha said. “No one cares about us. Lives and properties are being wasted on daily basis, and the government is not doing anything to stop the killing of our people.”
The Rev. Clement Mkperaga, a Roman Catholic priest whose church building was destroyed in the assault, told Morning Star News by phone that he barely escaped with his life.
“The village has been destroyed, and all my parishioners have been displaced,” he said. “Ten of my parishioners were killed during the attack on our community. I have been forced to flee the village, as both the church building and the parish house have also been destroyed.”
Taraba state police spokesman Joseph Kwaji confirmed the attack, adding that security agencies have stepped up efforts to curtail violence against unarmed citizens.
In Kaduna state on the same day, five Christians were killed and 15 houses destroyed in an early morning attack on the predominantly Christian village of Angwan Dauda, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Fadan Karshi – apparently in retaliation for soldiers shooting a Muslim herdsman to death after he stabbed a soldier trying to arrest him for attacking a Christian farmer.
Among the victims was a 1-year-old boy and his mother, a Christian resident of the community who identified himself only as Bulus told Morning Star News by phone. The father of the baby was killed earlier in an ambush on Dec. 15 by the same Muslim Fulani herdsmen, he said.
“Five Christians have been killed, and these Muslim Fulani cattlemen have been attacking our villages since April this year,” Bulus said, adding that several houses were also destroyed.
Mike Sanga, another Christian resident of Angwan Dauda, told Morning Star News that Fulani herdsmen were working in concert with Islamists in attacks on Christian communities in the area.
“The Fulani herdsmen are always working together with Muslim terrorist gunmen,” he said. “Whenever they invade a Christian community, they kill and burn houses at will and go unchallenged. That is precisely how they attacked our village.”
The attack comes after similar attacks by Fulani herdsmen in Fadan Karshi, Angwan Ganye, and Karshi Daji towns.
Sources said many Christians lost their lives in these attacks, and Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency reported that more than 1,500 Christians have died in similar attacks in the area this year.
The Rev. Kefas Sani Wujun, arch dean of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ-Gimi Conference, confirmed that five Christians were killed and 15 houses destroyed in an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Angwan Dauda.
“All those killed and injured are members of Evangelical Church Winning All in Angwan Dauda,” Wujun told Morning Star News. “A Fulani man had on the afternoon of Tuesday (Dec. 16) attacked a Christian farmer on his farm. Soldiers were drafted to the area, and they made an effort to arrest the Fulani man, but he stabbed a soldier with a knife in an effort to resist being arrested, and the soldiers shot him. In the early hours of the morning on Wednesday, armed Fulani gunmen attacked the village and killed five Christians.”
Islamists from violent groups have collaborated with Fulani herdsmen in attacks on Christians in Taraba, Kaduna and other states. On Oct. 19, Armed Muslim extremists stormed two churches in Taraba and killed 31 people as they worshipped. Two pastors, one pastor’s son, and 28 other Christians were slain in the attacks in the villages of Gindin Waya and Sondi, said the Rev. Caleb Ahema, president of the Christian Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria.
Calling the attacks a planned genocide on Christians by Islamic insurgents from outside the state, Ahema said the onslaught was the seventh attack on Christian communities in Wukari Local Government Area since February. He said the Muslim extremists, who wore military uniforms, were members of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. Insurgents from Boko Haram, based in Borno state, have reportedly joined ethnic Fulani herdsmen in attacks on Christians in Taraba and other northeastern states.
Some recent attacks, according to Nigerian press reports, have been carried out by Fulani herdsmen who have become members of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria.
While ethnic Fulanis have had longstanding property disputes with Christian farmers, church leaders say attacks on Christian communities by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to eliminate Christianity” in Nigeria.
Boko Haram (translated as “Western education is a sin”) is the moniker residents of Maiduguri, Borno state gave the insurgents, but the group calls itself the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, translated as “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.” The United States designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in November 2013.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.
Earlier this year, well-armed Islamist mercenaries from Niger accompanied ethnic Fulani herdsmen in attacks on eight towns and villages across four local government areas in the southern part of Taraba, Christian leaders told the head of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria. The assailants also destroyed three church buildings.
On July 31 the assailants killed three Christians in their homes in Mayokam, Bali Local Government Area, and one in Danburam, they said. Since March, mercenary-backed, Islamist Fulani herdsmen have killed 30 Christians in Ndo Yakuima, 24 in Bajimba, and 11 in Nayinwa, Tudun Wada and Yamini. In Nwokyon, at least seven Christians were killed.
Photo: The Rev. Caleb Ahema, president of the Christian Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria. (Morning Star News)