About 200 people have been killed by Islamic Fulani Herdsmen in Plateau State, a predominantly Christian State of Nigeria in less than a week.
Though officials have not given or confirmed any figures, eyewitness accounts say in Barkin Ladi Local Council, near Jos the State capital, which has been “under sustained attacks for the past eight years with nearly 50 villages sacked so far.” The member representing Barkin Ladi/Riyom Federal constituency in the Nigerian House of Reps, Istifanus Gyang said, described the attack in the villages “as senseless bloodbath.”
Fulani herdsmen, yesterday 23 June, on a rampage, attacked about 10 villages; “in Nghar village alone, about 70 corpses were recovered as the entire village was razed down.” A villager told Global Christian News.
While the attack was going on, missionaries working in the villages, where there are three major christian institutions; Calvary Ministries, also called Calvary Productions (CAPRO), St John Vianney Seminary and Bethany Christian Academy, sent a call for prayers to Global Christian News Editor and other Christians for prayers.
The Nigeria Director of CAPRO sent the message, “Razat Village opposite CAPRO School Of Missions (SOM) Gana Ropp is under heavy Attack by the Fulani Militia right now. All pupils and teachers of our school for missionary children (TKS) and SOM students with trainers are all taking cover indoors. Pray for their safety and for God’s intervention. Please pray to the Lord now. Thanks”
Prayers were sent to Christian groups and churches through the night, Saturday 23 June to early Sunday morning on WhatsApp platforms in and aroun Jos.
“URGENT !!! Please pray for Christians in Barakin Ladi and Gana Ropp areas NOW. . . . . 🙏🙏🙏”
Sunday morning the attacks had subsided and the army and police, deployed to the area seemed to have stopped the attacks. The missionaries in the villages then sent this message on Sunday morning. “Thanks for praying. We are alive today because we knew people were praying!”
The message added. “The attack last night was vicious… armed Fulani men dressed/ masked in black entered Rasak & Gana Ropp villages, shooting randomly and into our base. The house of one CAPRO family who live outside our fenced base were surrounded & directly attacked. For hours, the Fulani were shooting into the house, through their windows as they shouted “Allahu Akbar!” As our brethren lay on the floor, the attackers kept shooting inside for hours. They did everything to kill but God spared our brethren. Thank God for the military who came at about midnight to dispel the attackers.” The report said. “Everyone is traumatised, both old and young. Several locals were killed in the villages & houses torched. Do join us to keep praying for an end of this scourge of Fulani herdsmen/ Boko Haram in our country. Continue to pray for the safety of our brethren & their children who live in these vulnerable areas. Your prayers saved lives yesterday. Don’t stop praying please. Thank you.” The message from the missionary in the village said.
Other villages in the area like X-land, Gindin Akwati, Kura Falls, Nghar and Ruku villages were completely sacked by the armed herders. Survivors from the attacks from these “villages are believed to still be hiding in the bushes. During the search operation, over 60 people were killed there.” Another villager said. “There isn’t anyone to help evacuate them from the troubled area because the security authorities themselves are not responsive,” the villager lamented.
In Kakuruk village where it is gathered that the Special military Task Force was called in, they were able to “secure lives but not properties.” As the village was destroyed. A journalist with access to the village said “Several houses including a Church and a top Pastor’s house were burnt down in the village with one death recorded.”
The Plateau State Government, in a statement on Sunday 24 June, said it “is deeply pained that despite concerted efforts which had led to the restoration of relative peace across the state, some unpatriotic elements are bent on disrupting the gains so far made.” The statement through Yakubu Dati, Commissioner of Information and Communication, said “Government condemns these attacks and has mobilised the full compliments of security forces who are restoring normalcy in the affected areas and the environs.”
However, as at Sunday morning reported say dispite assurances by the state government, “more attacks were ongoing in unsecured communities even while the search and rescue operation launched by the STF was on.” A villager said.
“They allow the securities to move to one direction and strike again in another direction where security attention is absent,” another source in one of the affected villages said.
Hours before the attack on Saturday a team of journalists ran into an ambush in Barkin Ladi. “I was ambushed along with over 500 others at about 2pm near Mahanga, on the way out of Gashish village.” Masara Kim Said, “Many including a colleague in my car sustained various degrees of bullet injuries. They are in the Jos University Teaching Hospital.” Kim reported.
The attacks continued and are still persisting in Ruku, Exland, Kura Falls, Ganaropp and another village in Gashish. As at 6pm, at least 30 people were feared dead with several houses and cars razed down
There is tension in Jos town today, 24 June as a result of the attacks. Reports of reprisals and escalating tension leading to other attacks are circulating. Christians have been warned not to be in any Muslim dominated community.
There hasn’t been an official statement from Task Force in charge of security in Plateau State on the attacks.
A dusk to down curfew has been imposed in Barkin Ladi, Jos South and Riyom Local government councils of the Plateau State, Central Nigeria.
Hassan Joh is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.
Image Credits: Author