ABUJA, Nigeria (Christian Daily International–Morning Star News) – The governor of Kaduna state, Nigeria met with church leaders after the pace of terrorist killings since September increased in a Christian area, including 25 people slain in the first two weeks of January, sources said.
James Bitrus, Christian leader of the Dnata Chiefdom in predominantly Christian Kagarko County in southern Kaduna state, said Muslim terrorists killed more than 100 Christians in the area over the past four months.
“In fact, these attacks became worse from the month of September to this January,” Bitrus told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “Since November, many of our people have been forced to flee our communities; farmers are not able to go to their farms. This is aside from about 100 more Christians who have been killed in the past four months.”
More than 100 Christians were also kidnapped as terrorists killed 25 Christians in the first part of January, he said.
“These figures do not include those kidnapped in the past year,” said Bitrus, whose Dnata Chiefdom has headquarters in Gujeni town.
Bitrus spoke with Christian Daily International-Morning Star News after he and other Christian leaders met with Kaduna Gov. Uba Sani and the heads of security agencies on Tuesday (Jan. 16) in response to the outcry against terrorism in the state.
Sani, who took office in May, told the leaders that the purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm how to curtail recent attacks in the areas of Kauru, Kajuru, Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Chikun, Kachia, Kagarko and Kaduna-Abuja Road. He acknowledged that some parts of the state have become enclaves for terrorist activities.
“The recent occurrences on that axis clearly indicate the re-opening of a front on that route, and this points us strongly to the need for renewed focus and coordination,” he said, according to a copy of remarks obtained by Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “Bandits and terrorists have exploited gaps, particularly around Maganda, Kuyello and other villages surrounding Buruku, Udawa, Damba, Kuriga, Polewire and other flash points, to carry out ambushes on citizens as well as security forces attempting to respond to distress calls.”
Chikun, Giwa and Igabi also have become areas of concern, he said.
“The Kauru general area has equally witnessed a resurgence of deadly attacks and kidnappings in recent weeks around Dokan Karji stretching into Kajuru, and also Kachia from the Bishini general area,” Sani said.
Bitrus told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News that there is an urgent need for the Nigerian government to check terrorist activities in the area.
“Six Christians were kidnapped at Maraban Idda area on Saturday, 13 January, and up to this very moment those kidnapped are in captivity,” he said.
Many Christians in the Gida Biyu village area were also kidnapped, he said.
“Day and night, Christians are being attacked and villages raided by these terrorists,” Bitrus said. “And we have complained to the government and security agencies about our plight, but nothing has been done.”
Islamic terrorists have established enclaves in the Kajuru forests, among other sites, he said.
“Security agencies know this, but nothing has been done to curtail these terrorists’ activities against our communities,” Bitrus said. “We are calling on the Kaduna state and Nigerian governments to collaborate with each other towards saving us from the threat of extinction from terrorist attacks. We plead that a military base should be established in our area so that these terrorist attacks can be curtailed.”
More kidnappings of Christians took place in Nigeria, with 3,300, than any other country, and it remained the deadliest place 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.
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 [Islamic State West Africa Province] 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.
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