JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria on Tuesday (April 7) killed a pastor and three members of his congregation, including a 10-year-old boy, sources said.
In an attack on Ngbra Zongo village, near Miango in Plateau State’s Bassa County, the herdsmen shot and killed Matthew Tagwai, pastor of an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) congregation, in his home after 8 p.m. that night, according to area residents. Pastor Tagwai was 34.
He leaves behind two young children and his pregnant wife, area residents said.
Also shot dead in their homes were ECWA congregation members Ishaku Abba, 10; Dih Sunday, 21; and Duh Abba, 38, area resident Patience Moses said.
“The attack was carried out by armed herdsmen against the community at about 8:20 p.m. on Tuesday, 7 April,” Moses told Morning Star News. “Two other Christians, Abbayo Ki, 45, and Monday Adamas, 19, were also injured during the attack by the herdsmen, and they are currently being treated at a hospital at Dantako village.”
A survivor of the attack, Moses Gata, confirmed that the assailants were ethnic Fulani, a predominantly Muslim people prevalent throughout western Africa.
“There’s no doubt about it – our attackers are Muslim Fulani herdsmen,” Gata told Morning Star News. “They were communicating with themselves in Fulfulde, the herdsmen’s language.”
After the attack, the second on Ngbra Zongo, the assailants went toward Dutsen Kura, a Fulani herdsmen settlement in Bassa County, he said.
Andy Yakubu, another area resident, said the attack by “heartless herdsmen” was unprovoked.
“In the past one week, Fulani herdsmen have been attacking different villages,” Yakubu told Morning Star News in a text message. “What is the crime of these innocent people against Fulani herdsmen? For how long shall we continue to experience this killing? For how long shall we continue to beg the government and the security agencies to come to the aid of our people?”
The Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, Jr., ECWA general secretary, said the killing of Christians in Plateau state and northern Nigeria has become a thorny problem for the body of Christ, the church.
“This new attack, like the ones before it, is condemnable,” Pastor Nmadu told Morning Star News by text message. “The continuing attacks on harmless and unsuspecting Christian communities without concrete, strategic response from our duty-bearers to protect our people leaves much to be desired.”
He said he hoped the government will be able to contain such attacks before they produce a retaliatory spiral of violence.
“Let the authorities know that people do not run forever,” Pastor Nmadu said. “There comes a time when they are pressed to the wall, and in such times reactions and counter-reactions will inevitably occur.”
Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri, Jos-based attorney and director of the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN), said in a statement that the government should designate the heavily-armed herdsmen as terrorists.
“We appeal for a declaration of Fulani herdsmen as terrorists; passionately appeal for deployment of security agents not only to the areas recently affected, but also other volatile villages so as to avert expansion of the attacks arithmetically spreading unabatedly,” Mwantiri said. “And [we] solicit for material intervention for the survivors of all the affected persons who are now left to their fate, especially the young pregnant widow with her little children.”
On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.