KADUNA – Having mowed down large swaths of ripe crops in the predawn of Aug. 3, armed assailants stormed into four villages in Southern Kaduna state, central Nigeria, killing 22 and burning down 134 houses, according to Kaduna State Police.
Kaduna State shares a border with Plateau State to its east. The area inhabited by the Chawai Chiefdom is approximately 140 miles east of Kaduna, the capital city of Kaduna state.
“These attacks are likely a spillover of the violence from neighboring Bassa LGA [Local Government Area] of Plateau state,” Kaduna State Police Command Spokesman (ASP) Mohammed Jalige told The Epoch Times in Kaduna Tuesday afternoon.
“This is sad. I have asked my counterpart in Plateau state to furnish me with what happened in Bassa LGA to help us reach an understanding of what happened in Chawai, in this part of Kaduna state. But our men are on ground and the situation is now under control,” he said.
“These attacks in both Kaduna and Plateau State are not random, nor are the fresh targets of Fulani militants,” said Kyle Abts, co-founder of the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON).
“Each village has been attacked in recent weeks, months and years. The security forces and government have to know that this is a systematic onslaught by these marauders who are endeavoring to destroy not only homes, communities and farmlands, but most importantly lives,” wrote Abts in a message to The Epoch Times.
The Irigwe people of Miango District, Bassa LGA of Plateau state, which shares a hilly border with Chawai Chiefdom, suffered a series of deadly attacks in the past three days, after several hectares of their farmlands were destroyed by those alleged in the Nigerian media to be armed herdsmen.
The President of Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), Hon. Jonathan Asake—a former member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives—who leads the umbrella body of the 67 ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna, told The Epoch Times in an exclusive chat on the afternoon of Aug. 3, that 27 persons were killed, hundreds of homes burnt, and scores of hectares of farms bearing different types of grains and root crops destroyed by the attackers last night.
“SOKAPU has continuously insisted that there is an ongoing genocide in Southern Kaduna targeted at the indigenous Christians population and the aim is to force or intimidate us to abandon our faith or leave our ancestral lands for the armed herdsmen,” he said.
“Some of the attacked villages, like Kigam and Unguwan Magaji have been attacked at least three times in the past six years with mass graves where scores were buried standing as a testimony of what we are saying. Not a single church or school is left standing. Not a single herdsman has been apprehended all these years,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that while Kaduna State government and the Federal Government is playing blind to it, the larger world, especially the western media do not believe that our lives are worth any news,” he lamented
A survivor, Markus Joseph, from Unguwan Magaji, who spoke to Epoch Times from his hospital bed and asked that his location should not be mentioned, narrated how only by luck did he miss being killed.
“We had been informed that they were on their way to Chawai Chiefdom after fleeing from the Rikwe in Bassa LGA of plateau state,” he said.
“We have no weapons other than our locally fabricated den guns [a kind of shotgun loaded with lead balls or with any sort of shrapnel], and machetes, spears and stones,” he said.
“We laid an ambush for them and waited all through the night,” he said.
“Then by around 3 a.m., their cattle were the first to arrive; large numbers of them,” he said.
“It was dark, and we could not make out if they were hiding among their cows, but we waited still to be sure,” he said.
“Then we heard gunshots from ahead of the cows. That means that some of them were hiding among the cattle and have reached our village without being spotted,” he said
“As we were retreating back to the village, some of them started to fire at us from the rear end of the herd of cattle,” he said.
“I fired back and started loading the gun again. Then I was hit twice on my right thigh and one bullet broke my bones,” he said.
‘I ran for a short distance, then I crawled into the bush, and I was bleeding very badly,” he said.
“The last thing I saw was fire from the village and I heard women and children screaming. Then I fell asleep,” he said.
According to him, he woke up to sharp pains and discovered that he was being carried into an opened back truck. It was morning already.
“I am told that nothing is standing in my family compound and that three of my relatives were among those that were killed,” he said.
According to the SOKAPU President, Jonathan Asake, in Ungwan Magaji, where Joseph comes from, five people were killed, and one, Timothy Auta, was still missing the afternoon of Aug. 3. 76 houses were burnt, he said, and about 20 hectares of maize, rice, millet and other crops were destroyed by the rampaging herds of cattle or were chopped down with machetes.
“At Kikoba-Sama village, six people were killed, and 45 houses burnt, and 16 hectares of farms left wasted,” he said. Another five persons were left dead by the invaders at Kigam village.
According to Asake, at Kishisho village six were killed and 23 hectares of farmlands ravaged by the invaders.
“At least 90 houses were burnt in Kishoho village,” he said.
A Fulani leader, spoke to The Epoch Times on the condition of anonymity.
He said that the Fulani herdsmen were carrying out reprisal attacks on all the ethnic Christian villages of southern Kaduna state who had chased them away from living among them because of the crimes committed by other Fulani in far-away places.
“They forgot that They were supposed to live as brothers and sisters since most of us were born and raised among them,” he told Epoch Times.
“They burned our huts and stole our cattle and chased us away since 2012,” he said. “Now we either return, or they won’t have a place to stay also,” he said.