NIGERIA: CHURCH BLEEDS UNDER FULANI JIHAD
Written by Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin by Elizabeth Kendal, Special to ASSIST News Service
— During the latter half of the 20th Century, modernisation and environmental factors such as drought and desertification left many Fulani and Hausa Muslims struggling to maintain their traditional, nomadic way of life.
While many abandoned cattle grazing and migrated into the cities in search of work, others still lead their cattle south in search of food and water. The situation has put immense strain on Nigeria’s ethno-religious “fault-line”, where Fulani Muslim “settlers” from the north and southern Christian “indigenes” now compete for land, water, jobs and political power.
For decades, successive northern Muslim military dictators empowered the Fulani. In today’s democratic Nigeria, Muslim fundamentalists — political leaders, military personnel and Islamic jihadists — back the Fulani and use them as proxies to expand Islamic territory at the expense of local Christians, a record number of whom are now displaced. The seemingly endless violence perpetrated by Muslim Fulani against Christian indigenous communities across the “fault-line” and ever deeper into the south needs to be understood in the context of predatory migration, ethno-religious cleansing and classic imperialistic Islamic jihad.
Kaduna — one of Nigeria’s twelve Sharia [Islamic Law] states — sits in Nigeria’s volatile Middle Belt with Fulani Muslims in the north, Christian tribes in the south and its divided capital straddling the ethno-religious “fault-line”.
On the evening of Sunday, November 13, 2016, Fulani herdsmen besieged and attacked five villages — Kigam, Kitakum, Unguwan Magaji, Unguwan Rimi and Kizipi — in Chawai Chiefdom in Kauru Local Government Area (LGA) in Southern Kaduna, about 300 km [186 miles] south-east of the Kaduna metropolis. Armed with guns, knives, machetes and explosives, the Fulani killed 45 mostly women, children and elderly Christian residents while wounding dozens more and displacing thousands. Numerous vehicles and over 120 houses (including eight house-churches) were looted and torched.
According to local eyewitnesses, a Fulani herdsman named Haruna had approached a local farmer in September, requesting permission to graze his cattle on his land. The farmer refused, explaining that he had just finished preparing the land for planting yam in October. Despite this, the cattleman moved his cattle in and even built huts on the farmer’s land. Reluctant simply to submit and surrender his land, the farmer eventually called the police who intervened to remove the cattleman and his herd. When the cattleman subsequently returned, local youths chased him away. That was when the Fulani decided to ethnically cleanse the whole area.
Frustrated by the endless carnage, the Chairman of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Solomon Musa, reiterated calls for the establishment of a military base in Southern Kaduna. “It has now become abundantly clear,” he said, “to even the worst sceptics, that Southern Kaduna has become a killing field where genocide is taking place unabated.”
Most analysts would concur with Musa’s analysis that powerful people are sponsoring terrorists to eliminate people. Church leaders accuse the government of not giving enough attention to security. It is just as the Reverend Zachariah Gado explains. He said that there is a “well-funded, organised and executed campaign, to not only make life unbearable for the entire Southern Kaduna territory through threats, intimidation and psychological warfare, but also to occupy the land through what can only be described as ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia.”
Whole Christian communities are disappearing, being replaced with Fulani Muslims. The Church is bleeding under this Fulani jihad.
Please Pray That the Lord Our God Will:
* draw very near to the Christians in Southern Kaduna — in particular (at this time) those in and displaced from Kaura LGA — as they struggle against fear and despair, and against temptations to hate, to retaliate, and to doubt; may the Lord draw them close and lift their heads, that they will look to him for comfort, justice and security. May the devil have no victory here! May divine grace prove effective as a healer and as a witness.
“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3 ESV)
* influence the government of Nigeria, in particular President Muhammadu Buhari and Kaduna Governor Nasir el-Rufai, convicting and energising them to act decisively to:
* strengthen security in Christian regions;
* crack down on the illegal activities of the Fulani; and
* smash the nexus between the Fulani cattle herders, the Islamic militants, rogue Muslims in the military, and powerful Muslim fundamentalist figures (clerics and politicians) with Islamic imperialist ambitions.
Source: Asist News Service