12 Christian Homes Burned Down in Central Nigeria; Fulani Herdsmen Go on Killing Spree

Fulani herdsmen pose for a picture in Zango, Zango-kataf local govt, Kaduna State, Nigeria, in March 22, 2014.
Fulani herdsmen pose for a picture in Zango, Zango-kataf local govt, Kaduna State, Nigeria, in March 22, 2014. | (Photo: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

Radical Muslim Fulani herdsmen set on fire the homes of at least a dozen Christian families in Central Nigeria and killed a handful of people in the village, an evangelical pastor has reported.

The Rev. Biri Gado Sunday recently told the United States-based NGO International Christian Concern that Fulani herdsman attacked Zanwra village in the Plateau state in late January and damaged at least 17 homes.

Although Gado only knew of 17 homes that were burned, he indicated that even more homes could have been damaged. Of those 17 homes, 12 of them belonged to members of Gado's church and one belonged to Gado.

Morning Star News reports the total of houses burned in Zanwra village is 50 and also reports that the communities' church building was partially burned down.

The attack on the village came just one day after herdsman killed a member of Gado's church. Gado is a preacher affiliated with the Evangelical Church Winning All denomination.

On the day of the attack, Gado explained that the herdsman also killed a bus driver and two others who were just passing through.

The attack occurred right after the burial ceremony for the church member who was killed the previous day.

The Fulani militants began gathering in groups around the village at 2 p.m., which caused a group of youth from the community to form a line of defense.

"Then, later on, they started exchanging gunshots, Fulanis and the youth. When it was around 4 to 5 p.m., it got worse," Gado told ICC. "It was getting scary so I had to leave. ... At about 5:20 p.m., I saw the Fulani chasing these youth in my direction. I even called the youth chairman, telling him that we need security people."

Gado said that he told the chairman that if the community did not receive help, buildings would burn down. Although there is a military checkpoint located no more than a mile from Zanwra village, no military help was provided.

"He tried to get to the security, but there was no response," he said.

According to Gado, the security agents claimed that they were "kept there for the checkpoint." Additionally, the security team did not call for help to stop the Fulani attack on the town.

"In what is proving to be a common problem, the military is either told not to assist or simply don't care enough to do so," ICC noted.

According to Morning Star News, eight people were killed by Fulani herdsman in Zanwra village between Jan. 22 and 25. A 60-year-old elder from Gado's church, named James Nengwe, is one of the slain victims.

"He was on his way to the military camp just about two kilometers from his house when he was ambushed, shot and killed by the herdsmen," Gado told the news outlet. "In fact, he was just a few hundred meters from the military camp. He decided to take refuge at the military base camp when he saw the herdsmen attacking and burning houses close to his house."

The troubles didn't end there for the community. Gado explained that on Feb. 11, Fulani herdsmen killed three more members of the village.

"The government must really do something," Gado said. "[T]he government hasn't come here with any relief. They have not visited to see the people to ask what their problems are."

Fulani attacks are not uncommon in Nigeria.

Along with the presence of Boko Haram in the Borno state, the violence of Fulani herdsmen is a large reason why Nigeria is ranked as the 14th-worst nation in the world for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA.

According to previous ICC reporting, Fulani herdsmen attacked over 100 Christian villages in 2017, which led to the deaths over 200 people.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith Follow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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