Christians beg Nigerian government to stop Fulani attacks

Persecution | Militant herdsmen have killed dozens and destroyed homes and churches
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 11/29/16, 10:48 am

Fulani herdsmen have in the past week killed at least 12 Christians in Nigeria’s Kaduna state. Christian leaders are calling on the Nigerian government to respond to the increasing attacks, which some have coined “religious cleansing.”

Residents of Pasakori and Hayin Gaza villages in southern Kaduna confirmed the herdsmen killed the village heads and five others in the communities. In a separate attack on Mile One village, the herdsmen killed another five villagers, including the district head, and destroyed several homes.

Joshua Aku, a resident of the local government area, told Morning Star News the herdsmen burned down the home of the district head, as well as a Catholic Church and the offices of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).

Samson Ayokunle, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said the herdsmen have killed more than 100 people and displaced more than 10,000 others in attacks across Kaduna state alone since May. They also have destroyed more than 30,000 acres of farmland in an area where farming serves as the major income source.

On Nov. 13, suspected herdsmen attacked Kaduna’s Kaura local government area and killed at least 35 people. Rev. Zachariah Gado with ECWA said the herdsmen have destroyed 1,300 homes and churches in attacks on Kaura that began in May. He referred to the the escalating attacks as “a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia.”

Fulani herdsmen have increasingly become a violent group. In 2013, they killed 63 people across the country. By 2014, the number of deaths rose to 1,229 and has been on the increase since then. The Global Terrorism Index currently ranks Fulani herdsmen as the fourth most deadly group in the world.

“It is worrisome to describe those who attacked us as unknown gunmen,” said Rev. Chawangon Nathan, whose village in Kaduna also was raided. “They are people we know from our community.”

Nathan said farmers and herdsmen in Kaduna had signed a peace treaty in August, but the attacks continue. The Nigerian Senate in November called for a security emergency declaration in southern Kaduna. Ayokunle said the attacks are becoming more unbearable. He called on the government to heighten security in the affected areas and prosecute the attackers.

“I want to plead with the government,” Ayokunle said. “It’s not about politics, religion, or ethnicity. It’s about the value that is attached to life.”

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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