Burned out home in Bishara, Kaduna State, Nigeria
KADUNA – Having mowed down large swaths of ripe crops in the predawn on Tuesday morning, armed assailants stormed into four villages in Southern Kaduna State, Central Nigeria, killing 22 and burning down 134 houses, according to Kaduna State Police. Kaduna State shares a border with Plateau State to its east. The area is in the Chawai Chiefdom and is approximately 140 miles east of Kaduna, the capital city of Kaduna state.
"These attacks are likely a spillover of the violence from neighboring Bassa LGA of Plateau state," Kaduna State Police Command Spokesman, (ASP) Mohammed Jalige told our reporter in Kaduna Tuesday afternoon.
"This is sad. I have asked my counterpart in Plateau state to furnish me with what happened in Bassa LGA to help us reach an understanding of what happened in Chawai, in this part of Kaduna state. But our men are on the ground and the situation is now under control," he said.
“These attacks in both Kaduna and Plateau State are not random, nor are they fresh targets of Fulani militants,” according to Kyle Abts, co-founder of the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON).
“Each village has been attacked in recent weeks, months and years. The security forces and government have to know that this is a systematic onslaught by these marauders who are endeavoring to destroy not only homes, communities and farmlands, but most importantly lives,” wrote Abts.
The Irigwe of Miango District, Bassa LGA of Plateau state, which shares a hilly border with Chawai Chiefdom, suffered a series of deadly attacks in the past three days after several hectares of their farmlands were destroyed by armed Fulani herdsmen, as widely reported in Nigeria media.
The President of Southern Kaduna People's Union (SOKAPU), Hon. Jonathan Asake - a former member of Nigeria's House of Representatives who leads the umbrella body of the 67 ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna, said that 27 persons were killed, hundreds of homes were burnt, and scores of farms bearing different types of grains and root crops were destroyed by the attackers last night.
"SOKAPU has continuously insisted that there is an ongoing genocide in Southern Kaduna targeted at indigenous Christians. The aim is to force us to abandon our faith and to intimidate us into leaving our ancestral lands for occupation by the armed Fulani herdsmen," he said.
"Some of the attacked villages, like Kigam and Unguwan Magaji have been attacked at least three times in the past six years, with mass graves where scores were buried as proof of what we are saying. Not a single church or school is left standing. Not a single herdsman has been apprehended all these years," he said.
"The Kaduna State government and the Federal Government are blind to these attacks. The larger world, especially the western media, do not believe that these mass murders are worth reporting," he lamented.
A survivor, Markus Joseph, from Unguwan Magaji, spoke from his hospital bed and asked that his location should not be mentioned. He said that he missed being killed only by luck.
"We had been informed that they were on their way to Chawai Chiefdom after fleeing from the Rikwe in Bassa LGA of Plateau state," he said.
"We have no weapons other than our locally fabricated shotguns loaded with lead balls or shrapnel, and machetes, spears and stones," he said.
"We laid an ambush for them and waited all through the night," he said.
"Then by around 3 am, their cattle were the first to arrive; large numbers of them,'' he said.
"It was dark, and we could not make out if they were hiding among their cows, but we waited to be sure," he said.
"Then we heard gunshots from ahead of the cows. That means that some of them were hiding among the cattle. They reached our village without being spotted," he said.
"As we were retreating back to the village, some of them started to fire at us from the rear end of the herd of cattle," he said.
"I fired back and started loading the shotgun again. Then I was hit twice on my right thigh and one bullet broke my bones," he said.
'I ran for a short distance, then I crawled into the bush, and I was bleeding very badly," he said.
"The last thing I saw was fire from the village and I heard women and children screaming. Then I passed out," he said.
He woke up to sharp pain and discovered that he was being carried into an open-back truck. It was morning.
"I was told that nothing was standing in my family compound and that three of my relatives were among those that were killed," he said.
According to the SOKAPU President, Jonathan Asake, in Ungwan Magaji, where Joseph comes from, five people were killed. Timothy Auta was still missing Tuesday afternoon. 76 houses were burnt. He said that about 20 hectares of maize, rice, millet, and other crops were destroyed by the rampaging herds of cattle or were chopped down with machetes in the village.
"At Kikoba-Sama village, six people were killed, and 45 houses burnt, and 16 hectares of farms left wasted," he said, adding that another five persons were left dead by the invaders at Kigam village.
At Kishisho village six were killed and 23 hectares of farmlands were ravaged by the invaders.
"At least 90 houses were burnt in Kishoho village," he said.
A Fulani leader spoke on grounds of anonymity. He said that the Fulani herdsmen were carrying out reprisal attacks on all the Christian villages of southern Kaduna state who had chased them away from living among them because of attacks by Fulani militias.
"They forgot that we are supposed to live as brothers and sisters. Most of us were born and raised among them.
"They have burned our huts and stolen our cattle and chased us away since 2012," he said. "Now if we don't return, they, too, won't have a place to live."
This report is published courtesy of Douglas Burton.