Thousands of residents of Nigeria’s Plateau State brought the bodies of their slain community members to the region’s capital of Jos last week following a grisly attack on a Christian village. August saw a sharp increase in violence between sectarian groups in the region following years of violence against Christians.
Christian citizens of the Plateau State wailed outside the gates of Jos Government House for hours on August 25, after transporting the bodies of those killed in the prior evening’s attack to the capital.
The villagers had been targeted by Muslim militants wielding AK-47s and reportedly speaking a Fulani tongue on the evening of August 24. Twenty villagers were slain by gunshots or machete wounds, while 16 members of a single family, including a five-year-old child, were burned alive inside their home.
The victims were members of the Christian Anaguta tribe. Two days prior to the attack, a bridge that connected the village to Jos was destroyed in what was described as a carefully coordinated attack, thus preventing security forces from responding to the massacre.
Christians have been targeted with violence amid disputes with Muslim tribesman for years, and protest organizer Gad Shamaki told The Epoch Times that he believes President Muhammadu Buhari, himself an ethnic Fulani and a Muslim, is acting with an “agenda to eliminate Christians.”
“If you look at it from Kaduna to Plateau, to Benue and other states of the Middle Belt, out of 10 attacked schools, nine are owned by churches. Out of 10 kidnap victims, nine are Christians. Out of 10 attacked communities, hardly would you find one that is not 100 percent Christian, and it shows clearly that there is an agenda that the president himself is a part of, since he cannot openly condemn or demonstrate the will to stop the attacks, despite billions of dollars allocated to defense annually,” Shamaki explained.
Istifanus Gyang, Plateau North’s senator in the Nigerian Parliament, said in an August 15 statement that Christians in Plateau feel they are “abandoned to their fate by the federal government.”
“It is disheartening that Plateau people are targeted, isolated, and killed with no sympathy, no empathy, no attention nor relief to affected communities, no statement from the appropriate quarters,” the statesman said.
Although roughly half of Nigerians identify as Christians, the violence against the Church is multi-faceted, as religious animosity, land disputes, and tribal rivalry overlap.
Between extremist Fulani rebels or Boko Haram cells that target Christians in the name of jihad and angry, violent tribesmen with whom Christian tribes have long clashed over land, Nigeria now ranks ninth on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List of most dangerous nations in the world to be a follower of Christ, with the threat level considered “extreme.”
Pray for our grieving and angry brothers and sisters, that they would respond with bold and fiery faith in the Gospel rather than resorting to more eye-for-an-eye attacks on their enemies.
Rather, let us pray for those who perpetrate violence against the Christ’s Church — and for the government of Nigeria to be moved to act for what is right, not just according to their own personal loyalties.