3000 abducted, 300 churches and ten priests attacked
By International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety)
The Nigerian Voice (18.07.2021) – https://bit.ly/3x0QXCp – The number of defenseless Christians hacked to death by Nigeria’s Islamic Jihadists and their collaborators in the security forces in the past 200 days or 1stJanuary to 18th July 2021 has risen to no fewer than 3, 462 and this is just sixty-eight deaths less than the total deaths of Nigerian Christians in 2020 which the Open Doors’ World Watch List of Persecuted Christians put at ‘3,530’.
This number further represents daily average Christian deaths of seventeen and second highest since 2014 when over 5000 Christian deaths were recorded in the hands of Boko Haram and Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen. While Boko Haram killed over 4000 Christians in 2014, the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for 1,229 Christian deaths. In our last report issued on 11th May 2021, covering January to April 2021, we found that no fewer than 1,470 Christians were hacked to death and in the past 80 days or 1st May to 18th July 2021, not less than 1, 992 Christian lives have been lost. We also found that no fewer than 780 additional Christians were abducted in 80 days or 1st May to 18thJuly whereas between 1st January and 30th April, 2200 were abducted. This brings the total number of the abducted Christians since January to 3000, out of which at least three out of every abducted thirty Christians were most likely to have died in captivity; thereby indicating additional secret death in jihadists’ captivity of 300 Christians. Additional deaths of 150 is also added to represent ‘dark figures’ or deaths that occurred but not reported or recorded.
The number of Churches threatened or attacked and closed or destroyed or burnt since January 2021 is also estimated to be around 300 with at least ten priests or pastors abducted or killed by the jihadists. Taraba State was discovered to be the most affected with at least seventy churches threatened or attacked and closed or burnt or destroyed. For purpose of setting the record straight, therefore, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law is a research and investigative rights group which has been monitoring and investigating religious persecution and other forms of religious violence by state and non state actors across Nigeria since 2010. This, we do through the use of direct contacts with the victims, eyewitnesses, media tracking, review of credible local and international reports, interviews and closed sources and so on.
Impunity and complicity of Nigerian Security Forces
It is deeply saddening that till date those responsible for the anti Christian butcheries in the country have continued to evade justice and remained unchecked, untracked, uninvestigated and untried; leading to impunity and repeat-atrocities. The surviving victims and families of the dead victims are also totally abandoned by the Government of Nigeria. The Nigerian Government has continued to face sharp criticisms and strong accusations of culpability and complicity in the killings and supervision of same. The country’s security forces have so fumbled and compromised that they hardly intervene when the vulnerable Christians are in danger of threats or attacks, but only emerge after such attacks to arrest and frame up the same population threatened or attacked. In the North, the jihadists operate freely under the cover and protection of the security forces; abducting, killing, looting, destroying or burning and forcefully converting their captive and unprotected Christians and their homes and sacred places of worship and learning. But the same security forces hatefully and brutally respond with utter ferocity against Southern and Northern Christians are accused of infraction or offending the law.
Herdsmen killings most widespread, accounting for 1,909 deaths
The Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen are responsible for majority of the killings with at least 1,909 Christian deaths in 200 days, followed by Boko Haram, ISWAP and Muslim Fulani Bandits who jointly killed 1,063 Christians, while Nigerian Army, joined by the Nigeria Police Force and other branches of the Armed Forces accounted for 490 Christian deaths. The 3,462 Christian deaths include additional 300 deaths representing Christian deaths arising from deaths in the captivity of the jihadists, on average of three deaths out of every 30 Christians abducted and disappeared and another additional deaths of 150 technically representing ‘dark figures of crime’. The killings by the Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen are also the most widespread cutting across the entire six geopolitical regions of Nigeria targeting Christian areas of Taraba, Adamawa and Gombe in the Northeast; Southern Kaduna (Northwest) and other Christian settlements in the State; Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kogi in the North-Central; Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun in the Southwest; Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Anambra and Abia in the Southeast; and Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers in the South-south.
The Muslim Fulani Bandits, originally formed in Zamfara State in 2011, are jointly responsible for terrors going on in Christian parts of Southern Kaduna, Niger, FCT, Nasarawa and Kogi States. They are also responsible for attacks on indigenous Hausa Muslims in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi. In Kebbi State, for instance, the Muslim Fulani Bandits target and kill or abduct both Christians and Muslims; holding against their fellow Muslims a jihadist belief that the “indigenous Hausa Muslims are not pure Muslims”; same reasons used in the ferocious jihadist attacks against their fellow Muslims in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, and Muslim areas of Kaduna and Niger States. Boko Haram and ISWAP, on their part, are majorly responsible for attacks in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Taraba; and have through their recent alliances with other jihadists, made jihadist inroads and stepped up ferocious and unchecked attacks in Niger, FCT, Nasarawa, Kebbi and Kaduna, etc.
3, 642 Christian deaths: state by state breakdown
Benue State recorded the highest number of Christian deaths in the past 200 days with 450 and had recorded 200 deaths in Jan to April and 250 from May to 18thJuly; Kaduna State came second with 410 Christian deaths and had recorded 300 deaths in Jan to April and 110 from May to 18th July; Taraba State came third with 240 deaths; Plateau 170 deaths and had recorded 90 deaths in Jan to April and 80 from May to 18th July, Igbo States of Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra and Abia 200 deaths and had recorded 80 deaths in Jan to April and 120 from May to 18th July. Others are Christian part of Niger State (i.e. Shiroro, Munya and Rafi, etc) 200 Christian deaths (out of over 400 deaths) and had recorded 70 deaths in Jan to April and 130 from May to 18thJuly; Adamawa 80 Christian deaths, Ogun/Ondo/Oyo/Ekiti 162 Christian deaths; Kebbi 100 Christian deaths (out of 200 deaths); Borno 400 Christian deaths (out of over 800 total deaths excluding battle-field combat deaths); Nasarawa 50 Christian deaths, Igbo part of Delta 30 Christian deaths, Edo State 30 Christian deaths, non Igbo part of Delta 20 Christian deaths, Gombe/Bauchi 40 Christian deaths, Christian part of Geidam in Yobe State 25 Christian deaths, Kogi State 14 Christian deaths, Katsina ten Christian deaths including a Reverend Father; and Nigerian Army, Police, Navy, Air Force and DSS 490 Christian deaths (Imo 150, Abia 80 plus, Benue 70, Akwa Ibom 40, Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu and Cross River 150 others). The total of 3, 462 Christian deaths are established when 300 additional captivity fatalities and another 150 ‘dark figures of crime’ are added.
3000 Christians abducted in 200 days
The number of abducted Christians in Nigeria increased from 2,200 between 1st January and 30th April 2021 to 3000 in 200 days of 2021 or 1stJanuary to 18th July 2021 and it involved 1,350 abducted by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Bandits in Kaduna State, 620 abducted and disappeared by Muslim dominated and controlled soldiers of the Nigerian Army in Eastern Nigeria, 100 (out of over 150 abductees) abducted by BH, ISWAP and Ansaru in Borno and 120 abducted by the same Jihadist groups in Adamawa and Taraba; 420 abducted by Fulani Bandits and BH/ISWAP in Christian areas of Niger State, 100 abducted by Fulani Bandits and BH in Christian areas of Kebbi, 68 abducted by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo and Ogun, 40 abducted by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Nasarawa, 50 abducted in Abuja and Kogi and not less than 30 abducted by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia and 100 others abducted on Lagos, Abuja and other Northern and non Northern routes by Fulani Herdsmen and Muslim Fulani Bandits; totaling 3000 abductions in the past 200 days or 1stJanuary to 18thJuly 2021.
240 Christians hacked to death in Taraba in 200 days
Attacks on Christians in Taraba State since January 2021 have intensified with ferocity and are barely reported in the media. In the past 200 days or 1st January to 18th July 2021, not less than 240 Christians have been hacked to death by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and hundreds of others have been terminally injured. The number of churches burnt or razed across the State particularly in Bali District has risen to no fewer than 70, with Bali District being the worst hit. In recent months’ attacks, Bali recorded 66 Christian deaths with scores of churches burnt; Gassol 56 Christian deaths and 15 churches burnt; Takum 20 Christian deaths and seven churches burnt, Wukari five Christian deaths, Dunga five Christian deaths, Gashaka four Christian deaths and one church burnt and Karimo-Lamido twelve Christian deaths. Sixteen Christians were also killed in Bali on 16th May 2021 and five were killed in Takum on 23rdMay 2021. On 27th May 2021, twelve were killed in Gassol and two in Bali. The recent attacks by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have also been extended to Adamawa State where at least twelve Christians were hacked to death in Milibi and at least one church burnt. In Gombe State, at least six Christians have been killed in Bililri and in Bauchi State; at least two Christians have been hacked to death.
300 churches threatened or attacked and ten priests abducted or killed
No fewer than 300 Churches have received threats of attack or attacked and closed or burnt or destroyed by Nigeria’s Government protected Islamic Jihadists in the past 200 days and over 17,500 of such cases have been reported mostly in Northern Nigeria since 2009. In June 2020, the authorities of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) announced that they have since 2009 lost 8,370 members to BH and other Jihadists in Adamawa, Taraba, Borno and Yobe and that out of 276 abducted Chibok Girls, 217 are their Faith members. The Church also disclosed that 300 of its churches have been burnt or razed, in addition to loss of eight of its pastors. Since June 2020 till date, dozens of its members and scores of its pastors have also been killed by the Islamic Jihadists. Also since January 2021, at least 300 churches have received threats of attack or attacked and closed or burnt or destroyed and the States mostly affected are Taraba, Southern Kaduna and others located in Muslim held areas of the State, as well as Plateau and Benue.
At least, ten priests of Catholic Church and Pastors of Pentecostal Churches have been abducted or killed in captivity by the Islamic Jihadists. On 20thMay 2021, Reverend Father Alphonsus Bello was abducted by the Jihadists along with Father John Keke and ten other worshippers in Malumfashi, Katsina State. He was killed days after along with eight of the ten abducted Christians. On 30thMarch 2021, Reverend Father Ferdinand Ngugban and six other Christians were killed by the Jihadists in Katsina-Ala, Benue State. Reverend Father John Gbakaan of the Diocese of Minna was also killed by the Jihadists in January 2021. In May 2021, Pastor Leviticus Makpa Marcus was killed by the Jihadists in Niger State and on 13th July 2021, Pastor Timothy Damisa of CRCN Church was gruesomely murdered by the Jihadists in Kurmi, Taraba State. Among the Priests and Pastors abducted in the past 200 days are Reverend Father John Keke, abducted in May 2021 in Malumfashi, Katsina State, Reverend Father Elijah Juma Wada, abducted in June 2021 by BH in Adamawa, Reverend Father Marcel Onyeocha, abducted by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Irube, Okigwe, Imo State in April 2021, Reverend Father Harrison, Parish Priest of St. John’s Catholic Church, Obinomba in Ukwuani, Delta State, abducted along Abraka Road by Jihadist Herdsmen in March 2021 and Pastor Bulus Yikura of the EYN Church, abducted by BH near Chibok in Borno State in March 2021.
Photo : Slain Rev. Father Bello – The Nigerian Voice