Nigerian Army Stands Down as Terrorists Attack Rural Communities With Impunity: Witnesses

Nigerian Army Stands Down as Terrorists Attack Rural Communities With Impunity: Witnesses
In a village north of Jos, capital of Plateau State in Nigeria, a woman wails in grief on Aug. 19, 2021. (Lawrence Zongo/The Epoch Times)
Douglas Burton
5/11/2022
Updated:
5/17/2022

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 the victims, according to spokesmen for Christian communities in the region.

Terrorists massacred 25 people in Kauru County on April 25 and burned houses for three hours without Nigerian army intervention. In addition, a group of 15 terrorists posing as Nigerian soldiers on May 5 carried out a massacre of eight defenseless civilians in Cinke, a village of 300 in Plateau state, which borders Kaduna.

Survivors included Sarah, a 2-year-old who is hospitalized in the city of Jos, the capital of Plateau state, after being shot in the 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, told The Epoch Times.

Two-year-old Sarah Wei, shot by terrorists attacking her village of Cinke, Nigeria, on May 5, 2022. (Lawrence Zongo)
Two-year-old Sarah Wei, shot by terrorists attacking her village of Cinke, Nigeria, 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 ended, according to people 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, Gata said.

“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, declined to give information to The Epoch Times without authorization from Brig. Gen. Oyema Nwachukwu, the army’s national spokesman. He also said he couldn’t provide contact information for Nwachukwu, who is his supervisor.

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)
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)

Meanwhile, a three-hour attack on March 20 that left 35 people dead and indicated the complicity of the Nigerian army has shaken the residents of Agban Kagoro in neighboring Kaduna state, according to people who spoke to The Epoch Times.

A local minister who leads a unit of neigborhood watchmen, and who spoke on condition of anonymity, notified an army unit that a column of pickup trucks loaded with mercenaries was heading toward the community at 6 p.m. on March 20.

About an hour later, 150 suspected terrorists, including many wearing Nigerian army uniforms, arrived in the trucks or on motorbikes and began shooting local residents, according to eyewitnesses.

The military responded an hour after the village was set on fire.

Lt. Clement Ashu, a Christian officer and a native of the area, arrived in a truck with about 10 volunteer soldiers from the forward operating base in Kafanchan. However, Ashu and an enlisted man were killed in an ambush, according to witnesses, and 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, weren’t returned by press time.

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

Agban Kagoro is a mile east of Kafanchan, the commercial center of southern Kaduna that’s about 50 miles from 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 is home to a mobile police (mopol) barracks. Mopol is the combat wing of the Nigerian police and has an anti-terrorism component.

“No troop can move an inch without orders from Jos, the headquarters of Operation Safe Haven,” according to a soldier stationed in Kafanchan, who spoke to an Epoch Times reporter on condition of anonymity.

“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.

The Epoch Times was unable to reach Kaduna state police spokesman Mohammed Jalige for comment.

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.