A church leader in Nigeria is calling on the local authorities to take action following a recent string of attacks against Christians by Islamic Fulani Herdsmen.
Between July 23 and August 2 in the Irigwe area in central Nigeria, about 70 people were killed, at least 15 villages were destroyed, and over 400 houses were burned down, including churches and an orphanage. Additionally, nearly 20,000 people were displaced.
“For over 21 years, the Irigwe people of Miango, a predominant Christian community, have been under attacks from Fulani militia that resulted in loss of lives, properties and farmland,” Panya said. “The last two weeks, especially from Sunday, July 23 to Monday, August 2, 2021, have been the worst nightmare of the entire Irigwe land.”
Panaya also expressed disappointment in the Nigerian Army, who failed to intervene despite its headquarters being near the villages involved in the attacks.
“Many of the villages, where these killings and burnings are taking place, are basically located behind the 3rd Armoured Division Barrack of the Nigerian Army, yet, these militias are allowed to continue their heinous murders and carnage without any intervention by the Nigerian Army and other security agencies …, eroding the confidence of the populace in the military and security agencies, as unbiased protectors of all, devoid of tribe, ethnicity or religion,” Panya added.
Panya also noted that “no single AK-47 wielding militia” has been arrested, and “the indigenous youth who tried to defend themselves with crude instruments are paraded as aggressors.”
According to a report by the U.K.-based group Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Ungwan Magaji, Kishicho, Kigam and Kikoba Irigwe villages in Kaura LGA, southern Kaduna were also attacked. At least 48 people were killed, over 100 homes were demolished and at least 68 farmlands were destroyed.
“It is time for the international community to put aside debates about the origins and nature of this violence and to focus instead on pressing and assisting Nigeria to address this network of organized armed non-state actors,” CSW’s Press and Public Affairs Team Leader Kiri Kankhwende said in a statement.
“It is a tragic indication of failing or failed governance that groups with ready access to small arms, which reportedly include foreign elements, can continue to unleash the most appalling violence across the country, with minority ethnic and religious groups bearing an alarming burden of death and loss.”
According to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern, Fulani Herdsmen are designated as the fourth deadliest terror group worldwide and are currently the greatest threat to Nigerian Christians.