JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen wounded two Christians in north-central Nigeria on Sunday, a little more than week after herdsmen in the country’s northeast killed another church member while a Christian woman and pastor were kidnapped, sources said.
Herdsmen shot and wounded the two Christians at Ratsat-Rat Junction in Plateau state’s Vatt village, Barkin Ladi County, at about 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, said Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri, director of the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN), an area resident who spoke with one of the victims, Victor Markus.
“The Fulani herdsmen shot them as they rode on their motorcycle,” Mwantiri said. “Both of them escaped with bullet wounds. Victor Markus was shot on his hand and legs, while Gyang Gwom was also shot on his legs.”
Markus, 20, and Gwom, 30, were treated at Jos University Teaching Hospital, he said.
In northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, a group of armed Fulani herdsmen shot David Titus to death on Oct. 17 as was returning to Nega village from nearby Bang village, according to Aslem Nuhu Kyauta, a community leader and a resident of Numan town.
“He was shot and killed on the spot,” Kyauta told Morning Star News by text message. “This happened just a day after another Christian by the name of Kennedy Bitrus, from the same Bang village, was attacked and wounded by these Fulani herdsmen. He was ambushed and cut with machetes by the Fulani herdsmen while he was returning to Bang village.”
Bitrus received treatment at a hospital in Numan town, he said. He is a member of Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, as was Titus.
Police in Adamawa state confirmed the attacks on the two Christians and said investigations were underway.
In Borno state, also in the northeast, suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist insurgency on Oct. 19 kidnapped a young woman engaged to be married along with four other Christian women as they traveled to Maiduguri on the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, a relative said.
“Please let’s pray for Fayina Ali, who was kidnapped by Boko Haram on her way to Maiduguri; she’s a soon to be bride,” the relative told Morning Star News by text message. “Let’s pray for her release.”
Ali is a graduate of Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Zaria, in Kaduna state, according to her Facebook profile.
“I pray for your release dear. The God we serve will deliver you,” friend Janet Mamza wrote on her timeline. Another friend, Peter Boyi, wrote, “Please Lord, protect your child! Wherever you are be strong girl, the Lord will never forsake you.”
Terrorists from Boko Haram, which originated in Maiduguri, routinely mount roadblocks and kidnap Christian commuters after stopping vehicles along highways that are now seen as corridors of death for Christians in northeast Nigeria.
On the same day (Oct. 19), a Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) pastor disappeared as he traveled to the city of Gombe, in the state of the same name also in northeast Nigeria, according to church members. Islamist terrorists are suspected of kidnapping Polycarp Zongo, pastor of a COCIN congregation in Jos, Plateau state.
“This is to inform the COCIN family that one of our pastors, Mr. Zongo, has been missing since he embarked on a trip last Monday, 19th of October, to Gombe,” church member Nanna Nanmwa told Morning Star News by text message, echoing other messages by COCIN members. “This announcement is a call for prayers for his safe return.”
Pastor Zongo had headed for the city of Gombe to attend a church conference scheduled for Oct. 20.
New Breed of Herdsmen
Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.
Fulani herdsmen have increasingly adopted ideology and methods similar to Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram, and some come from outside Nigeria, This Day’s Akin Osuntokun wrote in an Aug. 14 column for the Nigerian news outlet.
“Today, a new breed of herdsman has emerged: an aggressive and murderous terrorist bearing sophisticated firearms such as AK-47s and even rocket launchers,” Osuntokun wrote. “And they become the mobile avant-garde army of political Islam in Nigeria. Given the country’s porous borders, many of them are recent immigrants from neighboring countries. Herdsmen from Niger, Chad and Mali can walk across the border and immediately lay claim to all the sacrosanct rights appertaining to bona fide Nigerian nationals.”
Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.
The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.
“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
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.