The president of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Rev Dr Stephen Baba Panya has called for urgent action to stem “the genocide taking place in Irigwe land” in Plateau state, central Nigeria.
It comes after at least 70 people were killed in the last two weeks in a series of armed onslaughts by assailants of Fulani origin on farming communities in Plateau state and southern Kaduna.
In a statement, Rev Panya said the last fortnight has been the “worst nightmare”, mainly, for a Christian Irigwe ethnic group based in Plateu state.
Rev Panya said: “The Fulani militia, with every of their might have invaded not less than 15 villages, burnt and destroyed not less than 405 houses and churches inclusive, displaced about 20,000 people and destroyed thousands of hectares of farm crops.
“What is so sad and inexplicable is that many of the villages, where these killings and burnings are taking place, are basically located behind the 3rd Armoured Division Barrack of the Nigerian Army, yet, these militias are allowed to continue their heinous murders and carnage without any intervention by the Nigerian Army and other security agencies.”
Deadly attacks by Fulani assailants are now increasingly occurring in the south of the country, amidst consistent reports of abductions for ransom, murders, displacements and destruction and occupation of farmlands.
Last month, Church of England bishops condemned the situation in Nigeria after Human Rights Without Frontiers revealed 3,462 Christians had been “hacked to death” since January in Nigeria.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s press and public affairs team leader Kiri Kankhwende said: “Indigenous ethno-religious minorities are being targeted in a relentless campaign of violence which involves decimation, displacement, and demographic alteration, and which accelerates during farming or harvesting seasons, indicating a deliberate effort to engineer starvation and complete economic disempowerment.
“It is time for the international community to put aside debates about the origins and nature of this violence and to focus instead on pressing and assisting Nigeria to address this network of organised armed non-state actors. It is a tragic indication of failing or failed governance that groups with ready access to small arms, which reportedly include foreign elements, can continue to unleash the most appalling violence across the country, with minority ethnic and religious groups bearing an alarming burden of death and loss.”