Amid a groundswell of domestic and international condemnation of unchecked violence by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria, 48 more Christians have been killed in Kaduna state so far this month, sources said.
Following the slaughter of 33 Christians in Zangon Kataf County in early August, 15 Christians were killed last week by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in southern Kaduna state, sources have told Morning Star News. Among the deaths last week were a 16-year-old girl, a father of nine children and a church pastor.
Last Tuesday, in Zangon Kataf County, herdsmen attacked Unguwan Gankon village, killing a 16-year-old student, Takama Paul, and another Christian, 30-year-old Kefas Malachy Bobai, a father of three children, according to Luka Binniyat of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU).
“Armed Fulani militia invaded Unguwan Gankon village in Gora Ward, Zangon Kataf LGA, and killed two persons and burned seven houses,” Binniyat said in a press statement. “Wary neighbuors, however, came to the rescue, and the murderers fled.”
On the day before – Monday, August 17 – in Kajuru County, Binniyat said that herdsmen killed a Christian farmer and father of nine, Bulus Joseph, 48.
His wife and three of his children were also attacked but survived.
One day earlier, four Christians were killed in an attack on a vehicle, according to SOKAPU – including a pastor with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).
The Rev. Adalchi Usman, pastor of an ECWA congregation in Unguwan Madaki village in Kajuru County, was shot dead in an ambush on him and three other Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen as they were traveling out of the community, Binniyat said.
Also slain were Christians Mariah Na’Allah of Unguwan Madaki village, Shekari of Unguwan Ali, originally from Anchuna village in Zangon Kataf County, and Ezekiel Maikasa of Gadanaji in Kajuru County, he said.
“Pastor Adalchi Usman, 39, and a father of two, was ambushed while in a commercial vehicle he had boarded with three others,” Binniyat said.
“The killers came from the bush and just started shooting at the car. The driver of the vehicle, Danlami Dariya, was abducted and at the time of releasing this statement his whereabouts were still unknown.”
“It has been a grim horror tale of blood, destruction, and hopelessness which we shall never forget.” – Luke Binniyat
Binniyat confirmed to Morning Star News that armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked Kachia County’s Bugai village – also on Sunday, August 16.
They killed village head Dan’azumi Musa, 67; his mother, Kande Musa, 97; and his siblings Aniya Musa, 60, and Angelina Irmiya, 45.
“Part of the village was burnt after the attackers looted the village,” Binniyat said.
“This is to further show that the siege on southern Kaduna communities is still ongoing. The genocide is still much on.
“For southern Kaduna, the past five years that Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai has been governor, it has been a grim horror tale of blood, destruction, and hopelessness which we shall never forget.”
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.
However, some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, noted in a recent report by the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG).
“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.
Fulani herdsmen have increasingly adopted ideology and methods similar to Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram, and some come from outside Nigeria, wrote Akin Osuntokun in an August 14 column for Nigerian news outlet This Day.
“Today, a new breed of herdsman has emerged: an aggressive and murderous terrorist bearing sophisticated firearms such as AK-47s and even rocket launchers,” Osuntokun wrote.
“And they become the mobile avant-garde army of political Islam in Nigeria. Given the country’s porous borders, many of them are recent immigrants from neighbouring countries. Herdsmen from Niger, Chad and Mali can walk across the border and immediately lay claim to all the sacrosanct rights appertaining to bona fide Nigerian nationals.”
“The herdsmen carried out the attacks between 11pm and 4am and left unchallenged.” – Luke Binniyat
Luka Binniyat reported that Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 33 Christians in five villages of Zangon Kataf County on August 5.
“The armed Fulani herdsmen stormed Apiashyim and Kibori villages. They lay siege to Apyaishyim, killing, looting and burning houses. In the wake of the cruelty, they left six Christians dead and 20 houses burnt,” Binniyat said in a press statement.
“In nearby Kibori village, seven Christians were killed by the marauding Fulani herdsmen.”
Binniyat said they struck Atakmawei village as residents were sleeping late at night, killing 12 Christians and burning 10 houses. He also said that in Apyiako village, they burned homes and killed three Christians.
“At the same time, Magamiya village was also attacked, and five Christians were killed and seven houses burnt,” Binniyat said. “The herdsmen carried out the attacks between 11pm and 4am and left unchallenged.”
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 behaviour of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
On January 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.