Nigerian Army Standing Down as Terrorists Attack Rural Communities with Impunity

By Douglas Burton
Douglas Burton
Douglas Burton
Douglas Burton is a former U.S. State Department official who was stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq. He writes news and commentary from Washington, D.C.
May 11, 2022 Updated: May 11, 2022

Rampaging terrorists have carried out more than 16 bloody attacks in Nigeria’s state of Kaduna in recent weeks, often with Nigerian troops standing by and refusing to assist, according to spokesmen for the Christian communities in the region.

Terrorists massacred 25 people in Kauru County on April 25 and burned houses for three hours without intervention by the Nigerian army.

A group of 15 terrorists posing as Nigerian soldiers carried out a massacre of eight defenseless civilians in Cinke, a village of 300, in Plateau state that borders Kaduna state on May 5.

Survivors included Sarah, a 2-year-old recovering in a Jos hospital from a rifle round through her back.

“The attack is another attempt to forcefully eject the Rigwe people from their ancestral land as well as to annihilate the entire tribe,” Davidson Malison, national publicity director of the Irigwe Development Association, toold The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Two-year-old Sarah Wei, shot by terrorists attacking her village of Cinke, on May 5, 2022. (Lawrence Zongo)

The tribe of 70,000 Irigwe-speaking people has suffered during scores of attacks by terrorist bandits linked to the Fulani tribe, which has 7 million members in Nigeria including President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The terrorists entered the village wearing full military uniforms, including combat boots and began shooting sporadically at 8:45 p.m.,” Moses Gata, an elementary school teacher in the area, told The Epoch Times about the massacre on May 5.

Malison notified police and military units in several neighborhoods to call for immediate help, he said.

A military convoy including an armored personnel carrier and three pickup trucks carrying more than 30 soldiers entered the village at approximately 11:15 p.m., 25 minutes after the shooting had stopped, according to sources in Cinke.

The convoy and soldiers returned to the village the next day at 6 a.m. but were scorned by local women and chased away, according to Moses.

“You were sent to protect us, but you were the ones who killed us!” one woman shouted, according to Gata.

Army spokesman Ishaku Sabastine, known by locals as a public affairs officer, answered the call of The Epoch Times but refused to give information without authorization from Brig. Gen. Oyema Nwachukwu, the national press spokesman for the army.

He said he could not give contact information for Nwachukwu, his supervisor.

Epoch Times Photo
Aerial view of Cinke Village in Bassa County, Plateau state, which lost eight citizens on May 5, 2022, after an attack by terrorists posing as Nigerian troops. (Lawrence Zongo)

Residents of Agban Kagoro in neighboring Kaduna state are still shaken after a three-hour attack on March 20 that claimed the lives of 35 residents and showed evidence of complicity by the Nigerian army, according to residents who spoke to The Epoch Times.

A local minister who asked for anonymity and who heads up a unit of neighborhood watchmen notified an army unit that a column of pickup trucks loaded with mercenaries was heading toward Kagoro at 6 p.m. on March 20.

At approximately 7 p.m., 150 terrorists, many wearing Nigerian army uniforms, entered in the white pickup trucks or on motorbikes and began shooting at local residents, according to eyewitnesses.

The military responded after an hour of the village burning.

Lt. Clement Ashu, a Christian officer and a native of the Kagoro area, headed up a truck with approximately 10 volunteer soldiers from the Forward Operating Base in Kafanchan, arriving at Agban-Kagoro at 8 p.m.

According to local vigilante witnesses, Ashu and an enlisted man were killed in an ambush some time before 9 p.m.

After finding Ashu and the enlisted man dead, the group returned to the base.

No other group of soldiers arrived on the scene, allowing the terrorists to continue burning four local villages until 10 p.m.

Calls to the commander, Col. Timothy Opurum, were not returned.

In order to get to Agban-Kagoro the column of trucks and motorbikes had to pass through two army checkpoints, according to sources at the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union who asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

Agban-Kagoro is a mile east of Kafanchan town, the commercial center of Southern Kaduna and approximately 50 miles to the site of the attacks in Plateau state.

Kafanchan has an army base and barracks that accommodate between 60 to 100 soldiers.

The city also hosts a mobile police (mopol) barracks. Mopol is the combat wing of Nigeria police and has an anti-terrorism wing.

To the south and six miles from Agban-Kagoro is Gidan Waya town where a military formation under Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) is stationed.

To the east of the destroyed community and about 12 miles away is Samaru Kataf, which has another military formation that runs two checkpoints under OPSH.

All efforts to reach the Kaduna state police spokesman, Mohammed Jalige, did not pick up his phone when The Epoch Times reached out for comment.

But a soldier stationed in Kafanchan, who spoke to an Epoch Times reporter on condition that his name should not be mentioned, said that “no troop can move an inch without orders from Jos, the headquarters of Operation Safe Haven.”

“We knew that our colleagues were in trouble because many calls came to us and our commander here in Kafanchan, but Jos did not give him permission to move us to the scene,” he said.

Douglas Burton is a former U.S. State Department official who was stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq. He writes news and commentary from Washington, D.C.