Those who were killed were Christians; this is an ongoing dispute between farmers and herdsmen, but as the farmers are Christian and the herdsmen Muslim, it cannot be separated from sectarian tensions fueled by extremist ideologues. The Christians of Nigeria are experiencing a crucifixion. Please pray that our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ would grant them mercy and relief, the comfort of His presence, and ultimately affect the resurrection of Nigeria’s Christian community, including the nation’s Orthodox Christians. Pray that the families of these victims would be comforted, and that their homes would be restored and protected. The Order urgently requests the Nigerian government to take all necessary steps to rein in the groups that are preying upon Christians, and to end the persecution of the Christians of Nigeria.
“Fulani Militants Kill Over 20 in Nigeria with Machetes and Gunfire,” International Christian Concern, March 11, 2019:
03/11/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on the morning of March 4, 2019, Fulani militants attacked Tse-Tema Dula, Tse-Ugor, and Tse-Jabu villages of Mbacohon area in Gwer West Local Council area of Benue State. According to ICC’s local sources, 23 people were killed. Confirming the attacks, Reuben, a member of the Gwer West legislative council, said, “It was bad. They killed over 20 people. Some were killed by gunshots and some by machete hacks!” While speaking of the aftermath for those who survived, Reuben lamented, “The displaced persons are scattered all over, some in Naka, the Local Government headquarters.”
Three days after the village attacks, the militants again launched another attack at Tse-Ikyo Mke, Mbapupur community in the same Local Council area. This time, three people were killed. Commenting on this attack, a local pastor named Reverend Ajoh shared, “Even today, they attacked. One of my members came to report that his father was killed, and another member said his son-in-law was also killed.” All three of the victims, Stephen Uper, Kwaghkunda Ngyeegh, and Denis Iorundu, were married with children.
The communities in Benue State are predominantly agrarian. The farming communities have suffered several years of violent confrontation by nomadic herdsmen who prefer open-grazing cattle breeding, a practice that has resulted in instances of destruction of farmland. As an approach to a solution, the state government enacted legislation providing for ranching instead of open-grazing, which took effect on May 22, 2017. Shortly after this law was implemented, attacks worsened for several months, culminating in more than 70 people being killed in early January 2018.
The law has caused some of the herdsmen to claim that it was deliberately aimed at upturning their generational lifestyle and culture of nomadic cattle breeding, as well as a deliberate attempt to expel them from the state and deny them their constitutional right of freedom of movement. However, Taraba State, which shares a boundary with Benue, has also instituted a similar law, given the years of violence between the Christian farmers and Fulani militants….