JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Friday (July 24) killed a church pastor, a 5-year-old boy and eight other Christians in attacks in north-central Nigeria, sources said.
The boy, Joel Cephas, and Shamah Kuyet Ishaya of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Zikpak were killed in attacks on predominantly Christian areas in and around Kafanchan, Jema’a County, in southern Kaduna state, between 8 p.m. and midnight, sources said.
The assailants wounded 11 other Christians and burned at least three homes.
Area residents Gideon Agwom, Rachael Nuhu and Essau George, among others, informed Morning Star News by text message of the deaths and the wounded, saying the victims belonged to ECWA, Baptist, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.
The attacks, which took place during a 24-hour curfew due to the break-down in security in the area, were the latest in a wave of unchecked assaults on Christian communities in Kaduna state this year. The herdsmen attacked the Kafanchan satellite areas of Zikpak, Maigizoh, Ungwan Masara and the College of Education area in Kafanchan.
Pastor Ishaya was a graduate of the ECWA Theological Seminary in Igbaja, Kwara state, and seminary Provost John Olu Adetoyese confirmed his death in a press statement.
“Pastor Shamah, among many others, was gruesomely murdered by Fulani herdsmen in an overnight attack yesterday, July 24,” Adetoyese said. “May the Lord grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss; may He be with Christians in southern Kaduna. Your journey was so short but fulfilled, Pastor Shamah Kuyet.”
Text messages from residents to Morning Star News during the attack and the next day gave some indication of the terror inflicted on the communities.
“Christians are getting killed like chickens; children getting slaughtered; women getting raped and molested,” reported area resident Thomas Usman. “Southern Kaduna is bleeding, and the government is silent; we need help!”
Area resident Joel Amadi said in his message, “Killing is going on in my father’s village, Zikpak, Kafanchan, and my Dad has been missing, including other villagers; and houses are being burnt, yet no help.”
Another resident, Tinom Jatau, said in his text, “Another Fulani attack in Kafanchan; Oh God, please intervene and protect your children with Your blood.”
Sharon Markus, another resident, wrote, “Fulani herdsmen are attacking Kafanchan. I’m on the run, I need your prayers.”
Paul Gwanzy wrote, “I’m heartbroken right now. Kafanchan in southern part of Kaduna state is under attack from armed herdsmen, and Christians are dying.”
John Tanko wrote, “Kafanchan on fire; please wherever you are now, we just need your prayers.”
Patience Tanko wrote, “Oh Lord, please save your children in Kafanchan; we are at your mercy,” as another area resident, Adams Karu, texted, “Another bloody attack in Kafanchan. God have mercy and deliver your people.”
Markus Bobai texted, “My people are in the bush now, crying for help. Guns are being shot everywhere. God, we only have you.”
Christian resident Sarki Suleiman texted, “God, what is really happening in southern Kaduna, Kafanchan again? What is the crime of Christians in Kaduna state? Why are they killing innocent people? Lord, will the wicked laugh and make merry and mock You? Won’t justice be done, oh Lord?”
Besides the pastor and young Joel Cephas, Luka Binniyat, spokesman for the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), identified the other eight persons killed.
“After looting and vandalizing the town,” Binniyat said in a statement, “they burnt part of it and gruesomely murdered the following: Kingsley Raphael, 28; Katung Kantiock, 60; Luka Garba, 75; Victor Ishaya, 22; Madam Dakaci, 52; Cecelia Audu, 65; Matina Dauda, 70; and Yanasan Dauda, 70.”
Among those wounded by gunshot were Jonathan Ishaya, Marthins Agang, Kassan Duniya and Jenifer Nicodemus, he said.
‘An Extraordinary Height’
The day before the attacks, the Kaduna state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Joseph Hayab, had decried prior assaults in a press statement.
“The position of CAN is that the killings of innocent lives, maiming and destruction of property across the nation, particularly the fresh attacks in the southern part of Kaduna state, have reached an extraordinary height and are a matter of grave concern; hence, require that the federal government take a proactive approach instead of taking sides,” Pastor Hayab said. “Aside from the degree of endless destruction of lives and property and government’s complicit response, CAN wishes to unequivocally assert that government has not done enough to stop the never-ending attacks, nor has it demonstrated guaranteeing steps to arrest the aggressors.”
The president of the Southern Kaduna Baptist Conference, Donald Arak, also expressed alarm in a press statement.
“We are dismayed that the government is not doing anything to condemn these attacks on Christians, nor give Christians hope that they are working to end these incessant attacks in Kaduna state,” Pastor Arak said. “On our part, we will continue to pray for God’s intervention to bring to an end these attacks on Christians in Kaduna state.”
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.