Church leaders have described the recent killings in Jos as an “attack without any provocation”. A statement from the Church of Christ in Nations, COCIN, said that it was “an attack on Christendom and a calculated effort to annihilate our members.”
The Christian denomination is one of the largest in Northern Nigeria and which has lost many of its pastors to Boko Haram and latterly the Islamist Fulani attacks. The Rev Justin Ahmadu, spokesman for the Church said: “The attacks on our members in Barkin Ladi and Riyom LGAs since Saturday 23rd June 2018, claimed the lives of over 200 people from more than eleven villages… Gindin Akwati (Nekan), Gana-Ropp, Ruku, Nghar, Kaikayi, Kakuruk, Kuzen, Shonong, Zakerek, Rokok and others, (and many more people are) still missing and possibly decomposing in the bushes, or in difficult humanitarian and/or medical situations.”
The Church said that the claims of cattle rustling by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) was concocted as an excuse for the massacre.
“The question in fact is, as much as we do not support any act of criminality by any of our members, does the killing or rustling of a cow justify such attacks on human lives without a thought as is being done in Plateau and other Central Nigerian States?” the Rev Ahmadu said.
COCIN called on the the government to investigate the Fulani leaders.
Emerging reports from the three-day mayhem in Plateau State says at least five churches were destroyed. They are the “Assemblies of God Church, First Baptist Church, Tsauke Baptist Church, Living Faith Church & COCIN LCC Ratatis. The churches were destroyed by fire and many houses were also burned down.
Villagers claimed that in this incident, “Soldiers openly chased the Christians from the town giving Muslims good backup to set Christians houses ablaze.”
The villager claimed that “over fifteen youths who resisted fleeing were killed including Vincent Peru, Noxxy, Wash Turareh” and many others.
The Rev Soja Bewarang, President of the Plateau State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said the killings were a deliberate attempt to “conquer and occupy” farm land.
He added: “The unholy act was a systematic genocide and perceived as a deliberate attempt to destroy the cultural heritage of Plateau people.”
Bewerang called on the government to use its forces to to bring the killings to a halt. He also called on the international community to come to the aid of the Plateau State given the failure of the security agencies.
“The soil of Plateau is smelling with rotten dead bodies as a result of silent killings,” he declared.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos
Image credits: Author