By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service, who was born in Nigeria
KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA (ANS – November 20, 2016) — A spate of attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria last weekend left 45 dead and several more injured.
According to World Watch Monitor (WWM), the brutal attacks were in five villages in Kaura local government area, Middle Belt Kaduna state — an area mostly populated by Christians — on November 13, 2016.
“Most of the victims were women, children and the elderly, who could not escape the gunfire of the attackers, believed to be Fulani herdsmen. 120 houses, including eight house-churches, were burnt down,” said World Watch Monitor.
A resident of Kitakum (one of the villages), Samuel Adamu, told WWM that the attackers came around 7pm local time. “They laid siege to the village before they started shooting sporadically and throwing explosives at our homes.
“They were armed with guns, knives, machetes and explosives. They slaughtered, butchered women, children and old people who could not escape,” he said.
Adamu accused the government of failing to stop the persistent attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives in Southern Kaduna.
The attacks came a day after the Fulani herdsmen and indigenous communities in Kaura and neighboring local government areas resolved to live in peace with each other.
That peace deal ceremony, held in Samaru Kataf, was attended by Governor Nasir El -Rufai of Kaduna state, who commended the communities and assured that his administration was determined to ensure security of lives and property.
In reaction to the Sunday (Nov. 13) killings, the state government’s statement condemned the “barbaric” attacks, saying they would not derail ongoing efforts at peace building in Southern Kaduna.
The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) is the main church organization in Kaduna State (950 churches, over two million members) and most of the victims are ECWA members. Its Chairman for Kaduna State, at a news conference (Nov. 16), blamed the ongoing violence on a quest for grazing reserves.
“We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the announced intention of the Kaduna State Government — to re-create existing cattle grazing reserves in Southern Kaduna — serves as a major motivation for the renewed ethno-religious violence and cleansing currently being visited on Southern Kaduna communities” said Rev. Zachariah Gado.
He also said last week’s donation by the Kaduna state governor for the reconstruction of churches destroyed during the attacks was a misplaced priority, pointing out that the money should have been given to security agencies. “As perpetrators continue to evade consequences for their illegal and violent actions, impunity and lawlessness are becoming entrenched, to the detriment of the entire state,” he added.
“Since the violent aftermath of the 2011 Presidential election, there have been increasing indications of the existence of a desperate, well-funded, organized and executed campaign not only to make life unbearable for the entire Southern Kaduna territory through threats, intimidation and psychological warfare, but also to occupy the land through what can only be described as ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia.”
Since March 2013, at least 180 have been killed and 10,000 displaced, while hundreds of properties, including dozens of churches, have been burnt down. Some 16 villages have been overrun by Fulani, who are now fully settled with their cattle and families, noted Gado.
He appealed to both the State and Federal governments to restore all communities that were taken over by herdsmen to the rightful owners, saying that failure to do so will only encourage further lawlessness.
Zachariah Gado also reiterated his calls for the establishment of a military base in Southern Kaduna state, to end the killings.
Timeline from WWM of recent attacks by Fulani Herdsmen: May-Nov 2016:
Nov. 13 — 45 killed, 120 houses, including eight house-churches, burnt down, as Fulani herdsmen laid siege to five villages (Kigam, Kitakum, Unguwan Magaji , Unguwan Rimi and Kizipi), all in Kaura local government area, about 186 miles east of Kaduna.
Oct. 25 — Attacks on Misisi village (Kaninkon Chiefdom): seven killed including the village head, 26 houses burnt down. Also, attacks on Pasakori (just outside of Misisi): seven killed and 16 houses burnt down.
Oct. 15 — Godogodo: over 300 militiamen laid siege to the town. The killings and arson continued into 16 October and left 30 killed; 27,819 displaced; 326 injured and 326 homes burnt down including seven churches. Properties estimated to be worth thousands of dollars were looted and destroyed.
Sept. 24 — Godogodo: seven killed as Fulani militia attacked the town (where thousands forcibly displaced from surrounding communities have sought refuge). The next day, an attempt raid was repelled by local vigilantes and security forces.
Aug. 2 — Akwa: Two killed, 20 houses burnt down including churches. Golgofa: Nine killed and the entire town razed to ashes.
Aug. 1-2 — Unguwar Anjo village (estimated population 3,500) burnt down. A pastor and a community leader killed among others, two churches, including lots of materials, destroyed.
May 31 — Ninte: the entire village burnt down including three churches, three vehicles and foodstuffs. Unguwan Kafinta, Dangwa villages attacked: 5 killed and 298 properties destroyed.
For more information, please go to: https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/.
Photo captions: 1) Fulani herdsmen on the attack. 2) The aftermath of Fulani attacks which left 45 dead mostly women, children and the elderly in southern Kaduna State. Nov. 2016. (World Watch Monitor) 3) Since March 2013, at least 180 have been killed and 10,000 displaced, while hundreds of properties, including dozens of churches, have been burnt down laments ECWA. (World Watch Monitor). 4) Dan Wooding with his mother, Anne, shortly after his birth at Vom Christian Hospital, Nigeria, on Dec. 19, 1940.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California. He moved with his parents – Rev. Alfred and Anne Wooding — to the UK in 1942, and has only been back on one occasion to the land of his birth. However, it didn’t work out too well for Dan — he was arrested for his journalistic activities, held in a jail cell for one night, and then deported at gun-point from Nigeria.
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