West & Central Africa

Christian leaders decry killings by Fulani herdsmen

About 20 Nigerian Christians have been killed in an overnight attack by Fulani herdsmen in the Christian village of Ancha, Bassa LGA, Plateau State have been killed by Fulani Islamic Herdsmen, on Thursday 7 September.

Survivors from the community confirmed the killing of seven men, five women and six children, with 10 other people being treated in hospital for gunshot and machete wounds.

The State Police Commissioner, Peter Ogunyanwo, speaking to the press, on Friday in Jos, said, “We are investigating the matter, but from our findings so far, the attack was carried out by Fulani herdsmen to avenge the killing of a young boy.” He explained that the police were told “that a Fulani boy resident in the village was reported missing on 3 August. We are told that his body was later found without the head,” he said. In retaliation, the Islamic herdsmen attacked the village in the early hours of Friday and killed 19 persons and injured five others.

“Of the 19 persons that died, 13 are adults comprising seven males and six females, while six are children. The five persons injured have been taken to the hospital and are responding to treatment,” he said.

The Police commissioner said though five suspects were arrested over the missing Fulani boy, in an ongoing investigation, this did not however dissuade the attack by the Fulani Islamists.

Major General Anthony Atolagbe, commander of Operation Safe Haven, the military command responsible for the protection of communities in Plateau, warned the youths in the village, not to take the law into their hands
saying security operatives have commenced an investigation of the attack.

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, to President Buhari, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said “It is unlawful of anyone or group to take the laws into their hands in the name of revenge or reprisals, rather than follow due process by allowing law enforcement agencies to fish out any such aggressors who will be made to face justice.”

The statement added that “various communities in the state have taken many steps, with the support of security agencies and mediators to pull the state back from the brink of anarchy and senseless killings warranted by attacks and counter-attacks.” Adding that, “It will be a painful loss to allow these unsavoury acts to return. I urge all our communities in the state and the other parts of the country to embrace peace and bring to a stop these painful and unnecessary killings.”
Mr ID Gyang, a member of the National Assembly, on a visit to the village on Thursday, said the attack “came as a rude shock given the generally peaceful situation in the state albeit instances of malicious destruction of farm crops and isolated cases of ambush on hapless citizens in the hinterland.”

“What the member of the house, like many other politicians avoided talking is the continuous destruction of farmlands and Christians killed on weekly basis by the Islamic Fulani groups,” said the Rev Andrew Okebe, a pastor in the community. “We do not and will never excuse the killing of any Fulani in the communities. But we must also challenge the army to live up to the duties they were sent to Jos and Plateau to do. We do not have reports of the army or police arresting and prosecuting the Fulani herdsmen killing Christian farmers almost every week in villages in Plateau state.

“This has led to this tit for tat killings. If the government is serious, these killings and taking over of farmlands should have been investigated and stopped long ago… and mark my word, nothing will happen even now, after the killing of nearly twenty Christians,” he added.

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

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