By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries, who was born in Nigeria
KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA (ANS – February 24, 2017) — Two German archaeologists were kidnapped on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, by unknown gunmen in southern Kaduna, highlighting the growing insecurity in the northern Nigerian state.
The two men, Peter Breunij and Johannes Buringer, were abducted at Jenjela village in Kagarko Local Council of Kaduna State. Breunij, an archaeologist from the University of Frankfurt, Germany, led a four-man team to the country to work on the relics of Nok culture. They were said to be working in the site in collaboration with officials of the National Commission for Museum and Monuments.
According to World Watch Monitor, the kidnapping took place in an area where more than 800 people have been killed since 2011.
Nigeria’s Middle Belt, which includes Kaduna, Nasarawa, Taraba, Benue and other states, is the scene of frequent attacks on Christian farmers (often called indigenes) by mainly Muslim Hausa-Fulani nomadic herdsmen.
Earlier this week, heavily armed herdsmen killed at least 30 people, including two policemen, and destroyed homes over two days in the mostly Christian communities of Kafanchan and Kagoro.
Local Christians say security personnel are preventing the Christians from protecting their own communities while allowing the Fulani to attack without any interference.
The violence had reached a peak over Christmas when dozens of Christians were killed. That prompted local authorities to declare a 24-hour curfew in three Local Government Areas (LGAs): Jema’a, Kaura and Sanga.
World Watch Monitor stated that the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission in December 2016 had called on President Muhammadu Buhari to put an end to the ongoing deadly attacks. At the same time, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project asked the UN to investigate the killings. Dr. Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on Extra-Judicial or Arbitrary Executions, promised to look into the massacres, with a view to ensuring that justice prevails and the culprits are punished.
Church groups in northern Nigeria have condemned recent killings, which they say are aimed at wiping out the Christian presence in the region. The attacks, which have claimed hundreds of lives, have affected mainly the central states of Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Benue, but also Kaduna. Southern Kaduna has been particularly targeted, with attacks occurring almost on a weekly, or even daily basis recently.
Kaduna’s state government had responded to the insecurity by relocating the Army Commander and Police Commissioner to southern Kaduna.
“Many groups and individuals, including Peter Bawa, the Chairman of the Northern Christian Youth Assembly, have commended the state governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, for initiatives taken so far, believing that they will go a long way to curtail the menace of herdsmen who have plunged many communities in the area into mourning,” added World Watch Monitor.
“However, some of southern Kaduna’s indigenous population interviewed by World Watch Monitor said the government was militarizing the conflict, using military force as the first and not the last resort, often without civilian engagement.”
The state government has also accused church leaders, activists, journalists and even traditional rulers, seeking to raise awareness about the violence, of committing hate speech, incitement and attempting to secure foreign funding. Several have been taken in for questioning or briefly detained.
On February 27, activist and lawyer Audu Maikori, who had mistakenly tweeted a false report before retracting it and apologizing unreservedly, was arrested in Lagos and flown to Abuja, where he was detained overnight on a warrant reportedly issued in Kaduna.
For more information, please go to: https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org.
Photo captions: 2) Fulani herdsmen, who have been conducting a violence campaign against Christians, attacking a Christian village. 2) In the village of Goska, houses were destroyed, churches burnt and shops vandalized in a December attack. (World Watch Monito). 3) Goska remains mainly deserted after the attack in December. (World Watch Monitor). 4) Dan Wooding being held by his mother, Anne Wooding, shortly after his birth in Vom, Nigeria.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning journalist who was born in Nigeria in 1940 of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and president of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and he hosts a weekly radio show and two TV shows all based in Southern California. He is also the author of some 45 books.
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