Church leaders calmed agitated and angry young people who wanted revenge against Fulani Muslims, after a series of attacks in the last three weeks by Islamic Hersdsment in Bassa, Plateau State, Nigeria.
More than 55 people have been killed including 29 children, women and men who were slaughtered in a classroom on Monday (16 October 2017 ) after soldiers fled.
Serah Bali, chair of the local council, who attended the mass burial said, “It would have been war in that place yesterday but God took control and some of the pastor stopped it. All of us would have been in trouble yesterday because the youths were ready to fight. They wanted to fight back even without the guns.
Serah expressing her frustration said, “I saw the 29 bodies lying down… shot and then butchered… I know how it felt when my daughter died. It is painful.”
In a condolence visit to the local council, the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Plateau State, the Rev Soja Bewerang said, “In any crises where women and children are intentionally targeted and children are deliberately eliminated in cold blood. The perpetrators deliberately intend to wipe out the future generation of the communities they attack. These attacks appear to be well coordinated by terrorists which reflect the deadly attack perpetuated by Boko Haram. We have the right to declare these people who are doing this attack as terrorists. Even worse than Boko Haram.”
The CAN chairman asked why Plateau State was being attacked. “What is happening is an act tantamount to an undeclared war,” he declared.
Serah Bali expressed the helplessness of local officialsand pleaded with church leaders. She said: “The church is our security. Every other thing can fail but the church can never fail. I am sure your prayers are stronger than those with guns that were used on our children. I want to tell you that the church is our security. Every security arm can fail but the church cannot fail.”
In an interview with Global Christian News she said: “We will not run away to abandon our land to Fulani. This is where we will die.”
In the deserted road in Jebu Bassa, some youths and children came out in protest. “We do not trust the security forces because we now know they are working with Fulani terrorist group to wipe out Christians in this community and take over our land for grazing. The government has their backing and support and therefore the government is doing nothing to arrest or stop the killings,” said a young 17-year-old protester. “We are determined too never to give up our land or our God. We will die here,” he said.
In his response, Major General Anthony Atolagbe of the Special Task Force, in charge of internal Security in Plateau and neighbouring state, “vowed to investigate the killings” in Bassa. He said the soldiers posted to the community had been recalled to the headquarters of the task force for a briefing on how the attack took place in the village.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, Global Christian News and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.
Image Credits: Author