The slaughter against Christians in Nigeria at the hands of extremist Muslim militants continues, the latest being the murder of six civilians by radicalized Fulani herdsmen and at least 11 killed by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the last week.
In addition, Nigerian troops suffered multiple deaths in battles over the weekend with ISWAP, a splinter group formed from former Boko Haram terrorists. Boko Haram continues to be a threat to Christians in Nigeria in addition to ISWAP and the Fulani. Reports on the number of Nigerian troops killed ranged from six, according to an official army statement, to as many as 31, according to military officers on the ground who spoke to journalists.
The persecution watchdog group Open Doors says some 2,200 Nigerians were killed for their faith in 2020, out of 4,761 Christians martyred worldwide. Religious freedom advocates began asking the White House to appoint a special envoy to address the violence during the Trump administration, and that request has continued into the Biden administration.
According to Morning Star News, Fulani herdsmen attacked a Baptist church during Sunday worship in north central Nigeria on April 24, killing one person, abducting five and injuring another.
“The Fulani herdsmen came to our village as the church service was going on,” Yakubu Bala of Haske Baptist Church in Manini Tasha village, Kaduna state, told Morning Star in a text. “They surrounded the church and started shooting. They came at about 9 a.m., and they rode on motorcycles. They shot at us randomly and at anyone they sighted.”
Bala told the news service that his uncle, Zakariah Dogonyaro, a medical doctor with the Kaduna State Ministry of Health, was shot to death.
At Greenfield University, also in Kaduna state, the Fulani killed at least five people and kidnapped more than 20 on April 20, Morning Star reported. The bodies of Dorathy Tirnom Yohanna and Precious Nwakacha and an unidentified male student were located April 23 in the Kwanan Bature village, near the college. On April 26, the bodies of two more unidentified students were found.
The university released a statement saying the captors demanded a ransom equivalent to $2 million USD.
Human Rights Watch reports that Kaduna is among several northwest Nigerian states “plagued by incessant kidnappings carried out by armed groups that emerged following years of conflict between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities.” Those kidnappings have increased in recent months.
Meanwhile, ISWAP has continued its escalation of violence. In Yobe state, ISWAP reportedly seized control of the town of Geidam, causing some 2,000 residents to flee across a river to escape after the group killed at least 11 people.
“Everybody is running away because the insurgents have started killing people who are Christians and those with Western education,” resident Babagana Kyari said, according to a report in Barron’s.
The U.S. State Department recently designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern,” but there has been no signal that a U.S. special envoy will be appointed.
Many people have criticized the Nigerian government for not sufficiently trying to eradicate the militants.
Jonathan Asake, president of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), told Morning Star the kidnappings have reached a dangerous point.
“The schools are not safe, the roads are not safe,” Asake said in a press statement. “The kidnappings have become so rampant. So my thought is that the federal government should declare a state of emergency in Kaduna state.”
The nation’s president since 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, has been considered suspect by some because of his Fulani heritage. On Thursday, the magazine Foreign Policy called on Buhari to resign because of his failure to protect the Nigerian people from terrorist groups, as did evangelical groups in Nigeria earlier in the week.
Photo: Olukayode Jaiyeola via ZUMA Press/Newscom