Nigerian pastor’s murder raises terror suspicions

Nigeria | Locals blame the Fulani, a lesser-known but deadly group
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 7/05/16, 01:33 pm

Gunmen on Thursday murdered a pastor in Nigeria’s Nasarawa state. Locals have accused militant Fulani herdsmen of carrying out the attack as similar killings have been on the rise in the region.

The Rev. Kura Joseph, 50, served as a pastor with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) and also as the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Nasarawa’s Obi local government. Numan Umaru Ismalia, the regional spokesman with the Nigeria Police Force, said two gunmen attacked Kura.

“They attacked and cut his two hands, picked his [phone] and left,” the Nasarawa Mirror reported. “The reverend begged them to take even his motorcycle and leave him alive, but they still went ahead to kill him.”

Samalia Joseph, Kura’s nephew, said he received the news of his uncle’s death while in Abuja, Nigeria. He said Kura was on the way to his farm on his motorcycle when the gunmen attacked him. Witnesses identified the attackers as Fulani herdsmen, Samalia said.

“According to the people who were there, they claimed they were Fulani,” he said. “Even if they weren’t, they were wearing Fulani attire.”

Fulani herdsmen have been accused of several attacks across the region that has left many unable to trust them, Samalia said. The Islamic group is the fourth most deadly terrorist organization in the world, according to the Global Terrorism Index, behind Boko Haram, Islamic State, and Somalia’s al-Shabaab.

In May, the militant herdsmen crossed from Benue state into Nasarawa, where they killed at least 20 people and 83 cows. In Benue, witnesses accused herdsmen of killing more than 300 people in the state’s Agatu area, a predominantly Christian farming community. The latest killing—and the suspicions it has raised about Fulani militants—underscores the growing tension between the Fulani and rural communities.

But Ismalia said the investigation is still ongoing. He said police on Sunday arrested a suspect, Anya Onoh, who is not Fulani.

“We’re investigating, and we’ll look into that, but the suspect we have in custody is not a Fulani man,” he told me. “As soon as we finish investigating, we’ll make our findings public.

Samalia said Kura will be buried tomorrow in Kaduna state.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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