Armed Fulani killed four Christians in north-central Nigeria last Friday (November 6) and the next day kidnapped seven persons, including five daughters of a church pastor, according to a local advocacy group.
Surviving witnesses in Kaduna state’s Dande village, part of Kasaya in Chikun County, described the killers as armed Fulani who ambushed and killed John Musa, 45, father of nine children; Habila Ibrahim, 42, father of nine children; Samaila Audu, father of seven children; and Maikudi Wasa, 25, according to Luka Binniyat of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU).
The assailants also wounded 27-year-old David Umaru, he said.
On Saturday (Nov. 7), armed Fulani attacked Karji, a suburb of the city of Kaduna, Binniyat said.
“With brazen impunity, armed Fulani herdsmen kidnapped seven persons, five of them the daughters of pastor Istifanus Tiswan of Christ Embassy Church,” he said, identifying the daughters as Faith Tiswan, Godsgift Tiswan, Ruth Tiswan, Damaris Tiswan and Michelle Tiswan.
Also abducted was Haruna Barde, who had fled violence in his native village to take refuge in Karji, and another unidentified person, he said.
“To date, the kidnappers have yet to make contact,” Binniyat said, adding that the state government has failed to mobilize military or police personnel to bring rampant abductions to an end. “Kidnapping of Christians is occurring almost on daily basis, and this has become a source of severe worry for Christian residents living on the fringes of Buyaya, Maraban Rido, Gonin Gora, Karji and Unguwan Juji, all suburbs of Kaduna that fall under Chikun LGA.”
Binniyat said Christians have had to abandon their homes and flee for their lives after the destruction of their houses and the capture of their relatives by Fulani militia in the past year. Fulani herdsmen have taken over at least 45 Chikun County villages that were once predominantly Christian, he said.
Niger State Attacks
In northwest Nigeria’s Niger state, Fulani herdsmen killed one Christian and abducted nine others on Tuesday (Nov. 10), according to an area Christian leader.
In a series of coordinated attacks on ethnic Gbagyi, the Fulani killed the unidentified Christian in Alei village and abducted the other nine from Nasapa village, said Godspecial Moses, director with Glorious Missions.
“Many of the villages have been sacked with the Christians in the area moving to Zumba town, the headquarters of Shiroro Local Government Area, and in Gwada town,” Moses said. “Many of the affected Christians slept in the open along the roads and in any available open space. A few Christians are still left in Nauna but slept in the bush since the attacks began.”
Attacks on area Christian communities have become common, he said.
“Please join us to pray that God should arise and defend His people, and to discomfit the enemy and their evil informants,” Moses said. “Pray also that the Niger state government and indeed the federal government will muster the political will to fight this evil to a stop. There is power in corporate prayer. Let’s pray.”
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, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.
“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.
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities 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 behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
On Jan. 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.