07/21/2016 Washington, D.C.
(International Christian Concern
) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 18, 2016, two suspected radical Muslim Fulani militants ambushed a truck in Plateau State, Nigeria and murdered four Christian men, including a local traditional ruler. Ron tribal chief Lazarus Agai, his son, their driver, and a police officer died in the attack near Sha village in Bokkos Local Government Area (LGA).
According to a survivor of the ambush, two men wearing masks and dressed in military camouflage appeared suddenly along the road at 3:00 p.m. and opened fire on the approaching truck. When the truck pulled to a stop, Agai tried to flee into the bush when the gunmen pursued him and murdered him. When the two militants returned to the truck, they were speaking Fulfulde, the Fulani language. Both attackers were young men, seemingly in their twenties.
The Ron tribe, which Agai heads, is made up predominantly of Christian farmers. A spokesman from the Christian Association of Nigeria local chapter spoke to ICC about the chief’s death.
“He was a bridge builder, the only chief standing for peace in the council area, and here he is killed,” he said. “The Fulani community in Bokkos should be made to produce the killers because they know them,” he added.
Reportedly, the killings have dramatically heightened tensions between Christians and the Fulani tribespeople in the Bokkos community.
“The youth are threatening confrontation and we are doing everything we can to persuade them not to take laws into their hands,” the CAN spokesman said.
He told ICC that Agai’s murder was the second in Bokkos in as many months after suspected Fulani militants also killed the traditional ruler of the Manguna people.
Continuing Fulani Attacks
A steady stream of attacks continues to surge across Nigeria despite awareness reaching the ears of President Muhammadu Buhari of the ongoing crisis.
In the third week of June, the Fulani militants unleashed attacks in Logo and Ukum, Benue State, killing at least 81 people, according to reports. On June 30, suspected Fulanis hacked Rev. Joseph Kurah Zakariya (Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA) to death in Obi LGA, Nasarawa State, according
to World Watch Monitor.
“They attacked him on his farm, cut off his arms and legs, then they chopped his head with a machete,” CAN General Secretary Dr. Rev. Musa Asake said in a press statement dated July 10.
Christians in Nigeria have long called for the government to step in to curb the slaughter. CAN said on June 29 that the government should commence an “immediate and dispassionate investigation into the matter with a view to bring perpetrators to book. The government should proffer solutions that would finally bring to a halt those mindless acts of killing, destruction and livelihood…now and in the future.”
These tragic incidents sadly represent merely a fraction of the violence raging around Nigeria that the Fulani militants continue to perpetrate. While the Christian community in northern Nigeria awaits a significant government response to the ongoing violence, they continually lose confidence in the Buhari administration’s capacity to confront the issue.
Troy Augustine, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “How long must we continue to stand by and watch the Fulani militants systematically slaughter and displace Nigerian Christian farmers across central Nigeria and beyond? While the National Assembly continues to wrangle over legislative solutions attempting to strike a compromise between Fulani cattle herders and these victimized communities, little remains done to ensure security in the affected areas. A government’s first responsibility is to protect the lives and property of its citizens, so every incident of Fulani violence toward Nigerian Christians demonstrates a failure on the part of the Buhari administration and his security apparatus to meet their most basic mandate. These incessant attacks must not continue unabated.”