Four Christian farmers in the Kaduna state of Nigeria were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen earlier this month during an overnight attack.
According to local news outlet The Punch, police in Kaduna state confirmed the deaths of four people said to have been killed by cattle herders in the Kagoro Chiefdom in the Kaura Local Government Area on Nov. 14.
Police identified the slain as Hosea Ayuba, Ado Adamu, Abagu Danladi and Kusa Danladi.
Sources told the global persecution monitoring news outlet Morning Star News that the four Christians who were slaughtered were members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Agban village.
An area resident named Derek Christopher told the outlet that the deceased were attacked with machetes by radicals from the semi-nomadic Fulani herding community. He explained that their bodies were marked with machete wounds.
“The herdsmen came to the area in a minivan and a motorbike,” Christopher said.
The attack comes as the farming community in Kaduna as well as across Nigeria’s Middle Belt has reported an increase in attacks carried out by radicals from the predominantly Muslim Fulani community in recent years.
Thousands are said to have been killed and many villages have been razed since the beginning of 2018.
Williams Adamu, a relative of Ayuba, told Morning Star News that there were Fulani attacks on the village that occurred in 2017 and 2015. He called the Nov. 15 attack “one too many.”
According to The Guardian of Nigeria, the police said that two suspects connected with the Nov. 14 murders have been arrested.
The two suspects have been identified by police spokesperson Yakubu Sabo as Sadiq Umar and Umar Abubakar from the Jamaa Local Government Area.
Sabo said police detectives acted on a tip and intercepted a bus carrying the suspects who carried out the attack.
“Both suspects are currently helping police investigation with useful information and will be prosecuted accordingly,” the spokesperson explained. “Efforts are also on top gear to apprehend the fleeing accomplices.”
Nigeria ranks as the 12th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List.
“Nigeria’s score for violence has stayed as high as possible, primarily due to the increased attacks on Christian communities by Hausa-Fulani Islamic militant herdsmen,” an Open Doors factsheet reads. “These attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of believers during the reporting period, and scores of villages and churches were burned to the ground.”
The Nov. 14 attack in Agban village came on the same day that two other Christians were reported killed in another Kaduna village by suspected Fulani herdsmen. The victims were 87-year-old Monday Kura and 48-year-old Emmanuel Agom.
Earlier this year, the international human rights nongovernmental organization the Jubilee Campaign submitted research and data to the International Criminal Court contending that the “standard for genocide” has been reached for massacres against predominantly Christian farming communities.
The report documented at least 52 Fulani militant attacks that occurred between the start of 2019 and June 12.
As Fulani herders are nomadic or semi-nomadic people who have for decades been involved in conflicts and disputes with predominantly Christian farming communities, the Jubilee Campaign report disputes the notion that the uptick in attacks on the farming community is just part of societal “clashes” or “farmer-herder.”
The NGO argues that such terms are “similar to the words used to describe the atrocities that were later revealed in Darfur, Sudan.”
“Caution is warranted in prescribing guilt to any group but in view of the evidence aggregated, the situation can no longer be called clashes when a group of over 200 raid a Christian village and kill civilians in the early morning hours while they are sleeping,” the report reads. “The ICC in their ongoing surveillance of Nigeria should update their information for the record.”