NIGERIA: Pastor, wife and three other Christians slain

Christian Daily (12.06.2024) – Suspected Fulani herdsmen killed a pastor, his wife and three other Christians at about midnight on June 2 in Plateau state, central Nigeria, sources said.

The raiders with heavy weaponry attacked a predominantly Christian village in Kwall District, Bassa County, killing Pastor Dauda Dalyop, 63, of the Assemblies of God Church; his wife Chummy Dauda, 57; Chwe Ajuhs, 26; Joshua Kusa, 45; and Rikwe Doro, 43, said Sam Jugo, spokesman for the Irigwe Development Association, an umbrella group of the predominantly Christian ethnic group in Plateau state.

“In the middle of the night of June 2, Fulani herdsmen invaders attacked and killed five of our residents in cold blood at Ari Songo hamlet in Kimakpa area of Kwall District,” Jugo said in a press statement. “Two other Christians were severely injured and are currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Jos.”

In his original statement to Nigerian media, Jugo identified the assailants only as “criminal invaders.” Questioned by Christian Daily International-Morning Star News, he revised his statement to identify them as “Fulani herdsmen invaders.”

Two days prior, a band of herdsmen ambushed and attacked two Christians in the same Kwall area, he said.

“This sad incident is coming just two days after some herdsmen ambushed two other Christians, killing one of them, Mr. Irmiya Musa Timbi, while the second victim was injured,” Jugo said.

The Rev. Ronku Aka, a pastor in the area, confirmed the attack in a message to Morning Star News. Fidelis Adara, a Bassa council official, corroborated the information.

The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) called on the Nigerian government to investigate continued killings and bring them to an end. The Rev. Akus Odoh of ECWA, Miango District Church Council, condemned the most recent attack in strong terms called for a thorough investigation.

“Nigeria has lost its values, and the government doesn’t respect the right to life,” Odoh said.

Alfred Alabo, spokesman for the Plateau State Police Command, confirmed that five persons were killed, including the pastor.

“The commissioner of police went there and saw the scene of the incident, and he has posted men to that place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” Alabo said. “We are working with the community to get more information concerning the incident.”

Nigeria remained the deadliest place in the world to follow Christ, with 4,118 people killed for their faith from Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023, according to Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List (WWL) report. More kidnappings of Christians than in any other country also took place in Nigeria, with 3,300.

Nigeria was also the third highest country in number of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings such as hospitals, schools, and cemeteries, with 750, according to the report.

In the 2024 WWL of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria was ranked No. 6, as it was in the previous year.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a 2020 report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

Further reading about FORB in Nigeria on HRWF website