Christians and Others in Plateau State, Nigeria, Are Becoming More and More Victimized

Amnesty International reports that 1,336 people were killed in three months.

ABUJANigeria Following a rights group report that 1,336 people were killed in Plateau State, Nigeria, between December and February, residents reported 18 Christians had died since mid-April.

In Plateau state’s Kayarda village, near Namu in Qua’an Pan County, Fulani herdsmen killed four Christian farmers on May 7, council official Christopher Audu Manship told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News.

On the same day in Bassa County, herdsmen ambushed and hacked to death a Christian in Kwal village as he was working on his farm, said area resident Ezekiel Bini.

According to Bini of Christian Daily International-Morning Star News, “herdsmen killed the Christian farmer’s wife and children in 2021 during an attack on the Kwal community, a predominantly Christian community.”

In Bokkos County, on May 7, Joshua Gonshak, a lecturer at Plateau State University, was kidnapped from his home in Bokkos town, said resident Christy Musa. The abduction followed an attack on Ngoksar village, Bokkos County, on May 1, in which “Fulani terrorists” attacked eight Christians, killing two of them, she said.

Musa added, “Herdsmen attacked Natinnhut village on April 13th, killing three Christians in the process. “And on the 12th of April, there was an attack on Mandung village by herdsmen, which resulted in the deaths of eight Christians.”

Area resident Sylvanus Malau told Morning Star News in a text message that Bokkos County has come under sustained herdsmen attacks without provocation.

“Our people aren’t game to be hunted and killed in this beastly manner in a society governed by laws – something has to be done,” Malau said. “The government of Nigeria and security agencies, and every other legitimately recognized entity, must come to our aid.”

Makut Alfred Mashat, a former media aide in the Plateau state government, said in a press statement, “Since the brutal attacks on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day in 2023 by Fulani herdsmen, Bokkos has been under relentless assault. Over 1,000 innocent lives have been lost.”

Mashat said the inspector-general of police has deployed troops, and the Special Military Task Force is present, but attacks persist.

An Amnesty International representative reported on May 9 that 1,336 people were killed in Plateau State between December and February. Isa Sanusi, Amnesty’s country director in Nigeria, said in a statement that the casualties were registered in Mangu, Bokkos, and Barkin-Ladi counties.

“Weeks after the deadly Christmas Eve attacks on Barkin-Ladi, Bokkos, and Mangu, our research team visited some of the affected areas,” Sanusi said, reporting that the deaths from December to February included 533 women, 263 children, and 540 men.

The violence displaced 29,554 people from their homes, including 13,093 children and 16,461 women, he said.

“Displaced persons must be provided with adequate humanitarian support, and children’s education must be continued,” Sanusi said. “We urge the government to investigate security lapses that enabled gunmen to carry out these attacks and get away with it. Those responsible for protecting lives and property must be held accountable, and special attention must be paid to how the conflict affects children.”

Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) on Sunday (May 12) urged Christians in Plateau State not to despair but to have faith in Christ to overcome the bloodshed.

At the RCCG’s Redemption Camp in Kassa village, Barkin-Ladi County, Pastor Adeboye said God has absolute power to lift people from one level to another, “and when God decides to promote, He can raise a person from a dunghill to the position of authority.”

“Promotion comes with a purpose and responsibility, while everything God has done is also with a purpose, and He wants His name to be glorified,” he said.

Nigeria remained the deadliest place in the world to follow Christ, with 4,118 people killed for their faith from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023, according to Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List (WWL) report. More kidnappings of Christians than in any other country also took place in Nigeria, with 3,300.

Nigeria was also the third highest country in the number of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings, such as hospitals, schools, and cemeteries, with 750, according to the report.

In the 2024 WWL of the countries where it is most challenging to be a Christian, Nigeria was ranked No. 6, as in the previous year.

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. Still, some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, as the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a 2020 report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have stated that they think the motive behind herdsmen’s attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt is their desire to extort Christians’ lands and impose Islam because desertification has made it difficult for them to support their herds.

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