At least 23 people were killed in a spate of attacks carried about by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the Kajuru local government area of Nigeria’s Kaduna this week, sources told The Christian Post.
In a press statement released on Tuesday, the Southern Kaduna People’s Union confirmed that at least 17 people were killed and six injured when Fulani militia laid siege to the Gonan Rogo village in the late hours of Monday night into Tuesday morning.
The village, inhabited by the Adara people, lies along the Kaduna-Kachia road. According to the union, the militia struck around 11:30 p.m. on Monday.
During the attack, an entire household was wiped out and members of several others were killed.
“They broke into the home of Jonathan Yakubu, 40 and slaughtered him,” SOKPU National Public Relations Officer Luka Binniyat said in a press statement. “They also killed his wife, Sheba Yakubu 32, and hacked to death their only three children.”
Their three children are 13-year-old Patience, 6-year-old Revelation and 4-year-old Rejoice.
“From this compound trails of blood led to another gory scene of where Kauna Magaji was killed along with her daughter, Faith Magaji, who died of grisly cutlasses cut to their heads,” Binniyat added.
According to SOKPU, the attackers then struck another compound in the village where they killed a 25-year-old mother named Saraunia Lucky. Her 3-month-old child was able to survive a bullet to the head but a 6-year-old was hacked to death. The baby and his aunt are now being cared for by the Albarka Baptist Church, according to SOKPU.
Others killed in the attack on the home also include 32-year-old Asanalo Magaji and 13-year-old Yayo Magaji.
In another home, a Christian couple in their 20s were butchered. And in another residence, 60-year-old Mailafia Dalhatu was killed as he tried to escape. Dalhatu’s younger brother, Yaro, was killed at another house along with his wife, Saratu, and 14-year-old granddaughter, Blessing.
Separately, a 17-year-old boy named Popular Teacher was killed.
“In total, no fewer than 17 persons were murdered in cold blood for no apparent reason by persons who the villagers identified as Fulani,” Binniyat said. “[Six] people are now receiving treatments in various hospitals. A total of seven cows were rustled. The compound of Liberty Yari was razed but was lucky to escape with his household.”
According to SOKPU, the Fulani neighbors who have lived around the community for over 40 years left the night before the attack.
A mass burial was held for the victims on Tuesday.
Kajuru resident Alheri Magaji, who leads the nonprofit Resilient Aid and Dialogue Initiative, shared details with CP about the incident in Gonan Rogo.
“Yesterday morning, while people slept in their houses, the Fulani people came in and slaughtered people,” she said. “There is a 6-month old baby that was killed as well. We have pictures of how they used machetes to cut open heads of people and kill a lot of people.”
Magaji added that two more attacks occurred on Wednesday within a 15-minutes distance of Gonan Rogo village in the Kajuru area.
“After the mass burial yesterday, two more attacks happened,” she said, adding that a handful of people were killed in one attack, and one person was killed in the other. “It is the same area, just in different villages.”
A May 12 attack on residents of the Idanu-Doka village occurred around 4 p.m., according to information provided by Magaji.
Bomboi Abinfada, a 53-year-old father of seven, has been identified as the man killed in that attack, while Maigobiri Sarkin Noma was said to have been injured.
An attack on Makyali village occurred Wednesday, killing 80-year-old Luka Paymaster, 40-year-old Yaki Luka, 37-year-old Francis Daniel, 45-year-old Akilu Aruwa and 70-year-old Laraba Danmori.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a nongovernmental organization that monitors Christian persecution in over 20 countries, five recent attacks in Kaduna have left 25 people dead. CSW notes that the most recent attacks are the latest in a series of coordinated attacks on Christian communities in southern Kaduna.
The rights group has documented 11 attacks by Fulani militia across five local government areas since the nation's COVID-19 lockdown went into effect on March 25.
Magaji, who traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2019 to speak about the plight of the Adara people, warned that the Fulani attacks have continued despite the ongoing pandemic.
“We came to the United States last year to talk about how these attacks are happening. And they haven’t really stopped,” she said. “The intervals were long before the lockdown. But since the COVID-19 lockdown on March 25, these Fulani herdsmen have killed 38 Southern Kaduna people, as of yesterday. That’s more than the coronavirus.”
She stressed that no Fulani person has been arrested for the killings.
“The governor, until now, has said nothing,” she said.
“The governor has not made any statement, the commissioner for security has not said anything. It went viral yesterday on Twitter and the presidency made a statement. But their statement is calling it ‘revenge attacks.’ We are asking, ‘Revenge, from what?’ They always make it look like the Adara went to attack Fulani people and Fulani [then] come to attack. They have not been able to say what attack the Adara people did on the Fulanis that caused the Fulanis to attack.”
Fulani violence is not just a problem for the people of Kaduna. Fulani radicals across Nigeria’s Middle Belt states of Plateau, Benue, Taraba and Kaduna have launched several attacks against predominantly Christian farming communities in the last half-decade.
Such attacks have led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people from their homes and farms, leaving many in much need of humanitarian aid.
According to Magaji, at least 13,000 people were living displaced in the Kajuru area alone in 2019. She expects that number has likely increased in 2020 due to the rise of attacks during the pandemic.
“The more attacks, the more displaced people we have,” she said. “Right now, we have lost count and we don’t honestly even know how many there are.”
Magaji decried the fact that the government and some in the international media refer to the violence in the Middle Belt as simple “farmer-herder” clashes.
“If it is not that serious, then why are there over 13,000 Adara people alone in camps?” Magaji asked.
However, Magaji said that some of the camps have been shut.
“The people were left to go with no food, no shelter, nothing,” she said. “Some of them have to sleep literally under the trees.”
The Anambra-based nongovernmental organization International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law estimated in March that about 11,500 Christians were killed in Nigeria by Boko Haram splinter groups and Fulani radicals since June 2015.
“I am perplexed at the state of humanity when children as young as 6 months are routinely hacked to death in Nigeria simply for being Christian, and the world ignores their plight,” Dede Laugeson, executive director for the nonprofit Save the Persecuted Christians, told CP in a statement.
“This must stop. The international community must intervene. If the Trump administration steps up and appoints a U.S. Special Envoy to Nigeria, it would help shed light on this ongoing genocide and motivate other countries to also make ending the violence a priority in their dealings with the Buhari regime.”
The U.S. State Department lists Nigeria on its “special watch list” of countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom.