A Christian man in the Plateau state of Nigeria was hospitalized after he and his wife were ambushed by a group of four suspected Fulani herdsmen late last month.
With attacks by predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen continuing to victimize predominantly Christian farming communities throughout the West African country’s Middle Belt, 40-year-old Yusuf Pam told a contact for Morning Star News from his hospital bed about how he and his wife, Jumai Yusuf, were victims of a machete attack while driving their motorbikes on April 26.
The nonprofit persecution news outlet reports that the residents of Rachos village in the Riyom local government area claim that they were driving from Kuru to their home area of Kwi district when they were stopped by Fulani radicals. The attack left Pam with serious injuries, including cuts on his head.
“When the herdsmen stopped us, they had with them sticks, cutlasses, and rifles,” Pam told Morning Star News source and area resident Dung Tabari from his hospital bed. “We pleaded with them to allow us pass, but they wouldn’t, as four among them mercilessly descended on us. They attacked us by cutting us with machetes. They cut me on my head several times, and these left me with deep cuts as I was bleeding.”
Pam further claimed that the attackers ganged up on him and beat him with sticks and knives.
Fortunately, his wife was able to escape with only minor cuts and swollen hands as a result of being beaten with sticks.
Yusuf, the wife, said she and her husband shouted for help. But no one was able to immediately come to their rescue. She fled the scene and ran into a nearby village for help.
As Yusuf saw the attackers surround her husband, she feared at the time that he had been killed.
“I thought my husband was already dead,” she said.
As she got closer to the village, she said that village members ran to help the couple. When she returned to the scene of the crime with village members, they saw her husband lying in a pool of blood.
“He was already at a point between life and death,” she said.
With the help of the villagers, the couple was taken to a nearby hospital.
This is not the first time that the couple was victimized by alleged Fulani attackers.
Over five years ago, Fulani radicals attacked Rachos village. As a result, the couple and most of the village residents were displaced from their home, Morning Star News reported.
According to the couple, they have been living in a displacement camp ever since the attack.
“I’m appealing for intervention, as I cannot pay the hospital bills, as all this while we have been living in an Internally Displaced Persons Camp since the attack on our community by the herdsmen in 2015,” Pam said.
The husband and wife are members of the Church of Christ in Nations congregation in Rachos village.
The April 29 attack comes as estimates suggest that hundreds of Nigerian Christians have been killed by Fulani attacks in 2020.
Although clashes between Fulani herders and predominantly Christian farming communities have existed for decades, advocates say the severity and quantity of Fulani attacks against farming villages in recent years have greatly increased.
The Nigerian-based nongovernmental organization led by criminologist Emeka Umeagbalasi, International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety), reported in early April that at least 400 Christians were been killed by Fulani herdsmen in 2020 alone.
“We are deeply concerned and worried over the continued armed invasions by Fulani herders, who are perpetrating these attacks basically not only to reduce our numerical strength but also to advance their uncivil course of land-grabbing,” Tabari told Morning Star News.
Intersociety also reported in April that at least 11,500 Christians have been killed since 2015 by Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram militants and highway bandits.
International human rights groups such as Christian Solidarity International and the Jubilee Campaign have warned international actors that the level of violence against Christians in Nigeria has reached the level of “genocide.”
Millions of people have been displaced by the violence in the country’s terror-ravaged northeast region by Boko Haram, and the Islamic State West Africa Province as well as in the Middle Belt by Fulani radicals in recent years.
Nigeria is ranked as the 12th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List. Nigeria is also listed on the U.S. State Department's "special watch list" of countries that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom."
In a recent attack reported by the Stefanos Foundation, three women and one man were reportedly killed and 36 houses were burned when suspected Fulani radicals raided a farming village in the Kaduna State of Nigeria on April 19.
On April 12, 12 Christians were reportedly killed and two others kidnapped when suspected Fulani radicals attacked a church wedding ceremony in northwest Nigeria.
That attack followed other reported Fulani attacks that were said to have occurred in March.