More Than 1.5 Million Have Been Displaced by Muslim Militants in Northern Nigeria
By Daniel Harris
04/27/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On April 15, around 7:30 p.m., while villagers were gathered to worship, Fulani militants entered Asso village in Kaduna State and killed 13 people. The security forces stationed nearby did nothing to stop the massacre, repeating the story of so many previous Fulani attacks. The governor of Kaduna state, El-Rufai, sent his condolences and encouraged people to wait for an operation which is scheduled to take place to try to drive the Fulani militants from their hideouts in the forest.
For many, though, that is not enough. Month after month brings new attacks from the Muslim militants against Christian communities. The most recent attack began during a church service. This attack was purely motivated for murder according to a local pastor, who told International Christian Concern (ICC), “Their target was to kill because no homes were burned.” Ironically, the attack came right after a peace dialogue between the locals and Fulani militants in the area.
Nearby in the communities of Pasakori and Sabon Gari, three more people were killed on April 17.
Christian leaders in the area are condemning not only the attacks, but also the governor of Kaduna State, who has brought little change with regard to protecting Christian communities. The Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan said in a press release, “He (El-Rufai), unabashedly takes sides with the armed herdsmen (his kinsmen) thereby failing in his responsibility as a true statesman, becoming therefore a biased umpire who blames and criminalizes Southern Kaduna victims as the cause of the mayhem.”
According to the Catholic Church of Kafanchan, in some cases military units deployed to the area not only allowed the attacks to continue, but prevented communities from mobilizing to defend themselves. “In the Godogodo and Pasakori attacks for example, the military merely watched and supervised the burning of our homes. When the youths mobilised to repel the attackers, the soldiers deliberately blocked them from entering the town.”
They added that the local government’s response to attacks against Fulani militants prove that the government knows how to execute a response strong enough to stop attacks. “It didn’t take the government of El-Rufai time to figure out what to do to tackle armed robbery and cattle rustling in the Birnin Gwari area…This is commendable and we are happy that the Fulanis in Birnin Gwari have been rescued from these bandits. If the government can deploy helicopters and soldiers to Birnin Gwari to help in tracking down the terrorists, why is the same government unwilling to deploy the same soldiers and helicopters to Southern Kaduna to help flush out the Fulani herdsmen terrorising indigenes of Southern Kaduna?”
It is difficult to know how many lives have been lost and how many homes destroyed by the Fulani militants. In December of last year, the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan in Kaduna State said that 808 people had been killed in attacks in 53 villages; however, numerous attacks have occurred since then.
Unfortunately, the problem of Muslim extremism extends beyond Kaduna state and the Fulani militants. With the victims of Boko Haram added, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes, more than 20,000 have been killed, and more than 150,000 refugees have spilled into neighboring countries. Nigeria is facing an enormous humanitarian disaster, one that has gone relatively unrecognized by the international community and unchecked by the Nigerian government. Some of the most victimized in this crisis are the Christian communities that have lived in this region for decades. The indigenous Christian communities are mostly pastoralists and farmers whose land is becoming increasingly encroached upon by the Fulani militants who herd cattle.
ICC is working to support Christians who are persecuted in Nigeria. To learn more about Christians in Nigeria or ICC’s projects, please visit www.persecution.org.