A Nigerian Christian describes the Fulani jihadist attack that destroyed his village, Ninka, Kaduna State and killed many Christian villagers. Credit: Open Doors Click here to view video.
350 Nigerian Christians were massacred in the first two months of 2020. Over 11,500 Christians have been murdered since June 2015. Four to five million Christians are displaced. 2000 churches were destroyed.
Nigeria has become a killing field of defenseless Christians. Reliable sources show that between 11,500 and 12,000 Christians have been massacred since June 2015 when the Buhari Government of Nigeria came to power. These statistics are based on careful records kept by church groups that include the names of victims and dates of their murders.
Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for 7,400 murders of Christians. Boko Haram committed 4000 killings of Christians. ‘Highway Bandits’ who separated Christians from Muslims on buses and then killed the Christians committed over 200 murders.
Fulani Jihadists are now the world’s deadliest terrorist group. Five Nigerian Christians are massacred every day by Fulani and Boko Haram Jihadists.
One hundred percent of the 7,400 murders by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen since June 2015 were Christians. Fulani militias wipe out whole Christian villages, but they leave Muslim villages unharmed.
4000 Christians were killed by Boko Haram, a majority of the 6000 civilians massacred by Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) since June 2015.
Most of the roadside victims of ‘Bandits/Highway Kidnappers’ in northern Nigeria are Christians traveling to Northern or Southern parts of the country using the Birnin-Gwari Federal Road, near Kaduna.
Boko Haram also murders Muslims who work with the Nigerian government, teach or attend schools, and anyone else who does not submit to Boko Haram’s deadly domination. From 2009 to 2020, Boko Haram murdered at least 27,000 civilians, even more than ISIS in Syria and Iraq, making Boko Haram the world’s deadliest terrorist group. That “distinction” has now been claimed by Jihadist Fulani militias.
In January and February 2020, 350 murders of Christians were recorded. Between 100 and 150 Christian travelers were abducted on highways. Out of the 350 Christian deaths, Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for 250 murders, and Boko Haram and ‘Highway Bandits’ accounted for the remaining 100 deaths.
The killings of Christians in Nigeria continued in March and April 2020. Fifty defenseless Christians were murdered by Jihadist Fulani militias in Nigeria in March 2020. Jihadist Fulani militants killed ten Christians in first two days of April 2020. Since then, a massacre of Christians has occurred almost daily.
Among the worst hit states in the latest round of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacks are Plateau State with 70-80 deaths, Kaduna 50 deaths, Kogi 30 deaths, Benue 15-20, Delta 16 and Taraba 10. Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen also carried out attacks in Nasarawa, Adamawa, Edo and other parts of the country, leading to the deaths of dozens of Christians.
The anti-Christian attacks by Boko Haram since Jan 2020 have also intensified in Borno, Adamawa and Taraba States. They claimed between 50 and 70 Christian lives and destroyed scores of churches and other buildings belonging to Christians. “Highway Bandits/Kidnappers” raided and looted Christian villages and ambushed and kidnapped Christian travelers.
By the account of the Vanguard Newspaper, “320 persons were killed in Nigeria in the month of January 2020” and according to Sahara Reporters, “223 persons died in Nigeria in the month of February 2020”.
The 2019 Global Terrorism Index also stated that “In 2018, Fulani extremists were responsible for the majority of terror-related deaths in Nigeria at 1,158 fatalities....In 2018, Boko Haram caused 589 deaths from terrorism”
The Nigerian Human Rights NGO Intersociety stated in March 2019 that ‘no fewer than 2400 defenseless Christians were murdered by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in 2018. In 2019, there were between 1000 and 1,200 Christian deaths.’
In all, no fewer than 10,475 Christians were murdered by Jihadists since June 2015. Fulani Jihadists accounted for about 62% or 7,400 deaths. Nigeria’s security forces (Army, Air Force and Police) were responsible for 1,050 Christian deaths. All the deaths occurred outside the law and were perpetrated in gross violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws. To date, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity have remained on the prowl.
20 Clergymen Killed and 50 Abducted Since June 2015
No fewer than 20 clergymen including at least eight Catholic Priests or Seminarians were murdered since June 2015 and at least 50 were abducted or kidnapped. Among the slain Priests are Rev. Father Clement Ugwu, abducted and killed on 14 March 2019; Rev. Father Paul Offu abducted and killed on 1 August 2019; and Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha killed by Jihadist Herdsmen at St. Ignatius Quasi Parish Ukpor-Mbalom (Benue) on 24 April 2018. Among the newest victims of killings targeted at Nigerian Christian leaders are Reverend Pastor Lawan Andimi and Reverend Pastor Denis Bagauri, all top officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Adamawa State.
The abducted priests or clergymen included Catholic priests (Fathers Dim, Ezeokana and Chukwuemeka) abducted while returning from Nsukka to Onitsha and Nnewi when they were attacked by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Sept 2016 along Nkpologwu-Nimbo Road in Enugu State. One of them later died. On the same Monday 26 September, 2016, a Vincentian Igbo Priest was also kidnapped with his brother along Abuja-Lokoja express way.
Five pastors of the Reverend Enoch Adeboye led Redeemed Christian Church of God, all Igbo citizens, were abducted on Friday, 2 August 2019, but later freed. The five Igbo-pastors are: Deaconess Ibelegbo Chidinma, Chidozie Eluwa, Chiemela Iroha, Okoro Ohowukwe and Ndubuisi Owuabueze.
In December 2018, two Catholic Priests were abducted by suspected Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen. The two Priests were of St Teresa’s Catholic Church Umueze Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State. The priests were abducted at Umuleri while returning from an official function.
Hundreds of Christian Travelers Abducted
Targeting and abducting Christian travelers who are mainly citizens of Igbo extraction on highways particularly in Northern Nigeria have also intensified and taken a dangerous dimension in recent months. The victims are separated at gunpoint according to their tribe and religion. This same religious targeting is applicable to victims of house to house raiding and looting during which Christians are separated from others at gunpoint and taken away or killed on the spot.
Christians, particularly those of Igbo extraction, are waylaid on highways and abducted into the bush and forced to pay ransom or face death including beheading or forceful conversion to Islam. Women among them are routinely subjected to sexual violence including rape and other forms of sexual assault. On 14th Jan 2020, no fewer than 58 Igbo Christian travelers on an Ezenwata Transport Luxury Bus were ambushed, forced to stop, and abducted.
The Boko Haram, Jihadist Herdsmen and “Highway Bandits” have been abducting travelers on major Nigerian highways including Abuja-Okene, Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna and Benin-Ore Federal Roads, etc. The abductees are held and tortured in captivity until they pay ransoms running into millions of naira each. Those who are unable to pay run the high risk of being killed or raped to death in captivity, if they are young women.
Jihadists have forced 4 to 5 million Christians to flee and have destroyed 2000 churches since June 2015.
Ceaseless killing of Christians in Nigeria since June 2015 and burning or destruction of their churches and other worship centers have followed incessant attacks against them by Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP), Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and a branch of Boko Haram, called “Bandits/Highway Kidnappers” engage in roadway abductions and armed robberies and house to house lootings, all for the purpose of radical propagation of Islam and raising of ‘blood funds’ for themselves and advancement of their terror activities.
The number of Nigerian Northern Christians forced to flee their ancestral homes, farmlands and sacred places of worship in order to escape being murdered or raped has sharply risen from “over 1.3 million in 2014” (Open Doors Report 2015) to between 4 million and 5 million. The affected population has fled the countryside or relocated to less risky capital cities in Northern Nigeria or cities and communities in the Southeast, South, and Southwest parts of the country. They have become “urban refugees”.
The number of people fleeing Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram are presently estimated at 3 million, rising from 2.6 million in 2017. They have become internally displaced persons and refugees in Northern Nigeria. Most are Christians. Among the refugees are some 90,000 Christian Nigerian refugees from Borno’s Gwoza alone, presently in Cameroon. Also fleeing the Islamic jihad in the North are sizeable numbers of the Igbo Christian population resident in the North. They have now resettled in the Southeast and the South of the country.
The number of churches and other Christian worship centers destroyed or burnt since June 2015 in the North has also risen to over 2000. Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen account for over 1500 of the church burnings. Boko Haram accounts for 500 others. Churches destroyed or burnt by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have been concentrated in Benue, Plateau and Southern Kaduna states.
In eight years, between 2011 and 2019, Benue State has lost over 600 churches and other Christian worship centers to Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen. By the account of Open Doors International, “over 13,000 churches and 1,500 Christian schools were destroyed or burnt; with 11,500-12,500 Christians killed and over 1.3 million forced to flee their homes to escape being murdered by Boko Haram Jihadists between 2009 and 2014”.
Concise Background of the Christian Population in Nigeria and Their Settlement in The North
Nigeria is home to between 95 million and 100 million Christians, out of which an estimated 30 million Nigerian Christians are found in the North. Nigeria’s total population is estimated at 200 million citizens. Eleven to twelve million Christians live in the North, dominated by Christian citizens of Igbo extraction. The Southeast and South regions of Nigeria are home to the largest Christian populations in Nigeria, followed by the Southwest and the old Middle Belt Region in Northern Nigeria. An estimated 6 million Christians live in the Southwest, dominated by Christian citizens of Igbo extraction largely found in Lagos.
In the Northeast, Nigerian Christians are found in large numbers in Taraba State (about 60%), Adamawa (about 40%), Borno (about 40%), Gombe (sizeable) and Yobe and Bauchi (small numbers). Many are Christians of Igbo extraction, particularly in Taraba and Gombe States. Borno and Adamawa States have been the hardest hit in the raging, ongoing anti-Christian persecution and killing of Christians and burning and destruction of their churches.
Before the 1961 plebiscite in Cameroon, the old Gongola (now Adamawa and Taraba States of Nigeria) was part of the Republic of Cameroon with moderate religious practices including a substantial Christian population.
Borno State, the area formerly Kanem-Bornu (Kanuri) Empire, is one of the oldest moderate Islamic settlements in now Northern Nigeria and was then (8th-11th century AD) under the Duguwa Dynasty that lasted from 700 AD to 1086 AD. The area specifically embraced moderate Islam around 1090 AD, when its King (Sef Mai Umme) became a Muslim and changed his name to Ibn ‘Abd al-Jalil. That was about 458 years after the death of Prophet Muhammed in 632 AD.
The area later found itself under the Kanem-Bornu Empire formed in 1380 AD. It embraced Islamic civilization then. The area now called ‘Borno and Adamawa regions’ were the only areas in Northern Nigeria that resisted the Fulani Jihadist invasion of Usman Dan Fodio in 1804.
Christian missionaries went to the areas in the 1800s and 1900s. Many people embraced Christianity. Today Christianity in Borno and Adamawa have been almost uprooted by the terrorist activities of Boko Haram and Fulani jihadists.
By the account of Dr. Bitrus Pogu, the Adamawa State’s senior member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN: translated as Church of the Brethren in Nigeria):
”In many communities in Northeast Nigeria, the killers (Fulani and Boko Haram jihadists) take over ancestral lands and communities that for generations belonged to Christians. The majority of Christian-dominated areas in southern Borno have been taken over by terrorists. In the area, only southeastern Damboa presently has large Christian settlements…
“Many of the Christians living there have been killed. The remnant who attempted to go to their farms were shot and killed, so the place is empty now. The area of Askira Uba, where Christians were dominant has all been deserted. In Gwoza, you will hardly find one Christian in all the settlements. Any Christian who goes home would see what happened there and run away.
“The Cameroon refugee camp alone has more than 90,000 persons from Gwoza, who are predominantly Christians. Many of them have moved out to Abuja and other cities. The villages are deserted; they have left even local government headquarters. A place like Chibok is predominantly Christian but people have left the villages around Chibok town as a result of series of attacks. Where Rev. Andimi hails from is about six kilometres from where the last settlement is. …. there is nobody living there, apart from those who settled along the main road. Askia Uba is the last area north where Christians are.
“In Adamawa State, there is Madagali, where you have Gulak. Right south you find Christians, but north there are no people. The terrorists are approaching Adamawa proper, because Adamawa and Borno intersect from Uba…”
Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen and ‘Bandits’: Three Groups with One Mission
There are two major armed Islamic jihadist groups terrorizing Nigeria and its defenseless citizens, particularly members of the Christian faith. They are the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and the Boko Haram jihadists. The international offshoot of Boko Haram is called the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP).
Boko Haram was formed in 2002 as a ragtag violent group protesting local inequality, socio-economic downturn and failed political leadership in Borno. It was later hijacked and radicalized religiously by some Northern radical Islamists and criminals.
The terrorist Fulani Herdsmen, on their part, are the armed terrorist and Islamic jihadist department of Fulani Herdsmen in Nigeria, the country’s primitive cattle herders. The terrorist and jihadist department of Herdsmen were created and are funded by extremist Northern politicians and security chiefs. The Fulani jihadists became devastatingly active immediately after the return to civil rule in late May 1999.
Jihadist Fulani militias are now the world’s deadliest terror group. They were formed and funded using the cover of existing Fulani rural cattle grazing in Nigeria. Initially formed and funded to wrestle the country’s seat of presidency power from the South, their terror campaign aimed to make Nigeria ungovernable. The mission of the terror group and its sponsors changed to jihadist Islamism in 2015.
The change in its mission followed from the victory and emergence of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, himself a Fulani (Daji) and a member of a conservative branch of the Muslim faith. Buhari was a brutal dictator when Nigeria was under military rule. He was elected as the sixth civilian president of Nigeria in late May 2015. Mr. Buhari remains the life patron of the mother body of the Association of Nigeria’s Cattle Herders, called ‘the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria’ or MACBAN.
According to Steven Kefas, a fiery Southern Kaduna rights activist, ‘what is called “Bandits” or “Ansaru” or “northern kidnappers” or “cattle rustlers” is nothing but a product of Government ‘labeling’. These groups are just ‘cells’ or ‘departments of Boko Haram’ charged with responsibility of raising funds for its jihadist and terror activities through various forms of roadway and street criminality including kidnapping-for-ransom, armed robbery and house-to-house raiding and looting’.
“At times, their criminality includes ‘pleasure crime’ such as rape and sexual harassment or ‘religious crime’ including abduction and forceful conversion to Islam or death in captivity such as public beheading for refusing to be converted”. Kefas recently interviewed some survivors of the highway abductions on Northern highways and they narrated their sad experiences while they were held captive by their abductors.
In all, there are ‘three names’ associated with Nigeria’s Islamic terror groups, but they have one mission: to terrorize, pillage, plunder and kill others in the name of propagation of Islamic religion or Islamism. Both Boko Haram and its international offshoot, Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP), kill and destroy in the name of religion.
They despise ‘Christianity, Christians and western culture or education’ and seek to Islamize the entire country by ‘deepening Koran in the Sea’. Many of their victims from 2009 to date have been Christians and it is only in rare circumstances that Moslems are targeted for ‘collateral killings’; usually in ‘revenge’ against Government attacks.
But for Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, 100% of their victims are Christians, their churches, homes and lands. Muslim farmers and their Mosques or homes are [never] attacked. Jihadist Herdsmen appear to be armed with “communal and forest maps” that indicate which villages are Christian and which are Muslim. This is important because a majority of farmers in Northern Nigeria are Muslims.
Apart from attacking Christian settlements in the North-Central, Northeast and some parts of the Northwest, Jihadist Herdsmen have also launched incessant attacks in the Southeast and South-south leading to death of no fewer than 200 Christians since June 2015. The killings were mostly recorded in Enugu, Anambra, Delta and Edo States.
Religious Terrorists Operate Under State Cover and Complicity In Nigeria
The greatest challenge facing the Nigerian security forces or Armed Forces and the Police is the ‘secularity question.’ Because of the lack of national cohesion and acceptance of pluralism, and due to the multi-ethnic and multi-religious composition of Nigeria, its present Armed Forces and Police should be composed with a 50-50 Muslim-Christian ratio. That is sadly not the case. The present leadership of the country’s security establishments has an 80/20 Muslim-Christian ratio. This lack of religious and ethnic security balance has fueled the untamed butcheries of Christians in Nigeria.
Due to their incompetence and corruption, and the near total collapse of intelligence and Information and Communication Technology to assist the police and military in Nigeria, the country’s security forces are now widely perceived as ‘a state terrorist organization’. This is because it is difficult to differentiate between the security forces and Boko Haram or Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and their genocidal activities.
It is also no longer hidden that Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen are allowed by the Nigerian Government to bear and possess modern assault rifles like AK-47s, while the same Government police and army arrests and prosecutes farmers found in possession of ancient ‘hunters’ guns.
By the Firearms Act of 2004, assault rifles like AK-47s are prohibited from being borne by Nigerian citizens except members of the Armed Forces, including Police and paramilitaries such as personnel of the Nigerian Customs, Prisons and Immigration Services as well as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, etc.
But in practice presently, Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have earned the status of ‘untouchable Janjaweed’; operating from left, right and center across the country with ‘prohibited firearms’; killing and plundering at will and with impunity.
Recently in Umuawulu Community, near Awka in Anambra State, some ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ were openly caught bearing and brandishing AK-47s and to date, the Government has kept mute, in spite of petitions by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to the Inspector General of Police.
A recent study conducted by a research group published by the Cable alleged that “weapons used in farmer/herder conflicts (Jihadist Fulani terrorism) in the country are linked to Nigerian security agencies”.
The Government of Nigeria and its security agencies have also come out boldly to defend the terrorist activities of Fulani Jihadists. The Government also functions as their mouthpiece.
‘Figure spinning’ and ‘mangling’ have also become part of the Federal Government’s conspiracy and complicity. The Government denies outright the casualty figures associated with Jihadist Herdsmen killings. Or it mangles and minimizes the statistics. Censorship, false denials and falsehoods also characterize the Government’s response to Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen’s butcheries.
The Nigerian government has released thousands of arrested Boko Haram terrorists, classified as “low risk Boko Haram combatants” back into society.
The Nigerian Government is also ‘jihadist RUGA friendly’. The Government is bent on moving with full speed at establishing throughout Nigeria its ‘Fulani friendly’ “RUGA” and ‘National Livestock Transformation Plan’. “RUGA” in Fulani means “rural grazing area and rural human settlement.” RUGA is designed to “resolve the Herder-Farmer conflict” but is actually a plan to reward the one-sided Fulani jihadist campaign of genocidal violence.
This is despite the fact that in the country’s landmass distribution, out of total of 923,000 square kilometers, the North is already allocated 72% or 730,000 square kilometers of the arable farm and grazing land, while the entire South shares only 22% or 192,000 square kilometers. The Southeast is allocated a mere 29,525 square kilometers.
The Nigerian Army has recently announced the floating of “Nigerian Army (Cattle) Ranching Limited” to be established throughout the country’s Army and military formations. The Army now has a strong economic interest in owning cattle, having Fulani herdsmen tend them, and expanding Fulani cattle grazing lands.
Apart from deceitfully christening the massacre of Christians as a “herders-farmers clash”, the Nigerian Government also censors the media and some researchers, compelling them to describe the killings as “killings by unknown gunmen” or arising from “herders-farmers clash”. This is a false narrative.
“Visa weavers” were also announced recently by the Nigerian Government, allowing illegal aliens including violent African nationals to enter the country and live anywhere particularly in the Southern part.
There has been a steady influx of largely uneducated and religiously radicalized Northern Muslim youths into communities and cities in the Southeast and the South. As at Dec 2019, forests and bushlands of over 139 Igbo communities, towns and hamlets have been forceably penetrated and occupied by violent Fulani Herdsmen. Some rural communities in the Igbo Delta, Anambra, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi have already become unsafe ‘no-go areas”.
Strong accusations are also rife against the Buhari/Osinbajo Government about the open complicity of the Nigerian security forces in the massacres of Christians across Nigeria.
The Governor of Delta State, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, openly accused soldiers of ‘accompanying the Herdsmen to massacre 14 rural Christians in Ughelli North LGA of the State”. The killings took place on 16 Feb 2020.