The days go by and unfortunately look alike in Nigeria. At least 11 people, mostly of them Catholics, were killed on the night of Thursday, January 19 by Fulani herdsmen who attacked a village around the Abagena camp of internally displaced persons (IDP) in Nigeria's Makurdi diocese (southeast part of the country), a Catholic priest told ACI Africa in an interview.
In a Friday, January 20 interview with ACI Africa, the Pastoral Vicar General of the Diocese of Makurdi recounted the “horrifying” persecution that Catholics were subjected to during the attack.
“The images of the attack are horrifying, and I keep saying that not even ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] is capable of such brutality,” Fr. Moses Aondover Iorapuu told ACI Africa, and he explained: “After killing, these guys decapitated some and took the parts away as proof to whoever is the sponsor.”
“The attacks took place yesterday, Thursday, 19th January, around Abagena IDP camp about 9 p.m.,” Father Aondover said, adding, “this village is 4 km into Makurdi, the Benue State capital.”
The priest continues: “As of this evening, 11 people were killed, including women and children, and many with life-threatening wounds in the hospital.”
“Almost all the victims” of the January 19 attack were Catholics, he further said, and added: “The attackers, according to the survivors, were Fulani, who occupied some of the villages they had abandoned in earlier raids.”
Fr. Aondover lamented the delayed response from security agents, saying, “the response from the police and the military as always: normal late arrival at the scene, and the attackers remain unidentified.”
Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of transforming the country into an Islamic state. Since then, this group, one of the largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate terrorist attacks against various targets, including religious and political groups as well as civilians.
The insecurity situation in the West African country has been complicated by the involvement of predominantly Muslim Fulani herders, also known as Fulani Militia, who frequently clash with Christian farmers over grazing land.
Fr. Aondover finally concluded: “We feel terribly frustrated and abandoned by our government and the international community.” He ended with a question: “We have had IDP camps since 2001. How else do we need to tell our story before we get the needed protection and help?”