ECWA’s Position on the Persecution of the Church in Kaduna State
World Press Conference Statement by Evangelical Church Winning All, (ECWA) 19 DCC Fellowship, Kaduna State On The Persecution Of The Church in Kaduna State.
16 November 2016
At ECWA Kaduna Central DCC Secretariat, No 6, Ali Akilu Road, Challenge Bookshop Compound, Kaduna.
Gentlemen of the press, We welcome you to this important briefing by ECWA 19 DCC Fellowship. Gentlemen, ECWA 19 DCC is the fellowship of all the ECWA Districts in Kaduna state, with about 2000 pastors in 950 churches and over 2 million worshippers in the State. ECWA is about the biggest Christian denomination in the state.
Having made this clarification, gentlemen of the press, deeply concerning events that have been occurring in our beloved state, and particularly in Southern Kaduna, during the past few months seem to be taking a turn for the worse. As servants of the God of peace and justice, who has charged us to care for all humanity, we cannot keep silent as unprecedented violence is visited on communities and on the Church by malign forces whose motivation is now becoming clearer.
Since the violent aftermath of the 2011 Presidential Election, there have been increasing indications of the existence of a desperate, well-funded, organised and executed campaign not only to make life unbearable for the entire Southern Kaduna territory through threats, intimidation and psychological warfare, but also to occupy the land through what can only be described as ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia.
This campaign has been devastating. The Attakad Community Development Association, has confirmed that at least 180 people have been killed in Attakad Chiefdom, Kaura LGA, since 2013 and 10,000 persons displaced.
Since 24 March 2013, 16 Attakad villages have been lost to the Fulani militia, and Fulani men are now fully settled with their cattle and families, in Mayit, Agwom, Zakai Gira, Tunga Magwot, Telak, Zakum and Kirim. Several ECWA churches have been destroyed, along with those belonging to other denominations, and many of our members have become IDPs.
In 2014, several communities in Sanga LGA, were invaded and hundreds of people killed by these armed herdsmen, with no apparent provocation. In an indication of their underlying religious hostility and motivation, churches are usually prime targets.
Today, Fulani occupy Unguwan Dauda, where they have cultivated large farmlands and have erected permanent structures roofed with corrugated zinc. Antor Maisamari in Aboro District, Numana Chiefdom is now occupied by Fulani, and indigenes who survived the attacks have fled the area.
To further buttress the assertion that there is an orchestrated plan to drive our members and other indigenes out of these parts of Southern Kaduna, it appears that the next stage will involve the full take over, Godogodo Chiefdom, in Jema’a LGA. Part of Godogodo town, Ninte, Akwa, Ungwar Anjo, Gada Biyu have been overrun and occupied by the Fulani. Churches in these villages are laid to waste after being burnt.
It is deeply shocking that in the 21 Century, not only are Fulani militia carrying out a campaign of forced displacement and occupation reminiscent of previous centuries , but also that this is occurring so blatantly under the full gaze of a succession of modern, democratically elected governments.
Even more worrying is the assertion by both the Kaduna State Government and many Fulani groups that 20,000 hectares of land is earmarked for the exclusive use of Fulani as grazing reserves in Sanga LGA. Note that this is in addition to the lands that have already been seized by violence.
While we have always suspected a quest for territorial acquisition motivated the Fulani attacks , the press conference organised by Jema’a Foundation, Miyetti Allah and Mobgal Fulbe Development Association on 7 November 2016 confirmed that Fulani and Hausa Muslims have been behind the ethnic cleansing and destruction of villages and houses of worship. They claimed they had to do this to entrench their rights to practice Islam, alleging they were being marginalized in Southern Kaduna. In a statement signed by Abdullahi Hassan Mohammed, Ahmad M. Yandeh and Abdulhamid Musa, the groups also claimed that they were “irked into responding appropriately” in launching the Godogodo violence. The consequences of “responding appropriately” can be summarized as followed:
1. Ninte Village
Ninte has two ECWA churches and a Baptist Church. On 31 May 2016, and as confirmed by the aforementioned groups, Fulani burnt down the entire village. The two ECWA churches , a pastoruim and two auditoriums were razed. Also, three vehicles, and foodstuffs in barns were set ablaze. The attackers were not done ; the nearby villages of Unguwan Kafinta, Dangwa were attacked and the residents chased out. The Fulani then herded their cattle to graze on their crops. Five persons were killed. 298 properties were destroyed
2. Unguwar Anjo
This village has an estimated population of 3,500, and also falls under Godogodo Chiefdom. Between 1 and 2 August, 2016, Fulani carried out an unrestrained attack, leading to the death of Mr Danjuma Tanko and Pastor Luka Adamu of the Redeemed Church. The entire village was burnt. The ECWA and Redeemed churches were burnt. Destroyed inside the church buildings were 450 chairs worth N67,500; two generators worth N60,000, and musical instruments valued at N3 million.
In an attack that took place on 2 August 2016, two persons were killed, 20 houses, including churches, were burnt and the village was emptied of its owners.
Nine people were killed and the entire town razed during an attack on 2 August 2016.
5. Godogodo town
On 24 September 2016, Fulani militia mounted an attack on Godogodo town, where thousands of people who had already been forcibly displaced from surrounding communities were taking refuge. Seven people were killed. The next day, an attempt by the militia to re-enter the town was repelled by a combination of local vigilantes, police and the military.
Then on 15 October, as affirmed by Jema’a Foundation, Miyetti Allah and Mobgal Fulbe Development Association, a combination of armed Fulani and local Hausa Muslim residents of Godogodo numbering over 300 laid siege to the town. The killings and arson continued into 16 October unchallenged. By the time it ended:
A total of 30 people had been killed;
27,819 had been displaced;
326 were injured, and 326 homes were burnt.
Six ECWA churches and a Baptist Church were burnt.
The value of property destroyed and looted runs into billions of Naira.
Attacks on Kaninkon Chiefdom On 25 October 2016, armed Fulani descended on Misisi village, just as soldiers had called the youth and some of the elders for a meeting. The village head and seven others were killed, and 26 houses were burnt. During an attack on Pasakori, situated around 3km away from Misisi, two people were killed and 16 houses burnt.
On 13 November around 3pm, Fulani herdsmen laid siege to Kigam, Kitakum, Unguwan Magaji , Unguwan Rimi and Kizipi, all in Chawai Chiefdom, of Kauru LGA, about 300km east of Kaduna metropolis. Leaving 35 people dead. 120 houses were looted before being destroyed. In Kigam, not a single home is spared, apart from the primary school. All 8 churches in these communities were razed.
As the lurid and gory picture showed, kids less than two years, pregnant women and the aged form most of the casualty. This cannot be “self-defence” or “retaliatory” in nature. This is a premeditated evil and we have no explanation for it, except that people are forced out of their villages for herdsmen to take over.
Violence Centres on Three LGAs
The murder and displacement of communities is occurring across Southern Kaduna. However, it is intensified in Jema’a, Sanga and Kaura LGAs, which are adjoining landmasses.
The worst affected areas are Attakad Chiefdom and Bondong District in Moroa Chiefdom of Kaura LGA; Numana Chiefdom in Sanga LGA, and Godogodo District, Kaninkon and Kagoma Chiefdoms in Jema’a LGA.
In Summary, since the latest onslaught on Southern Kaduna began, according to our documented evidence and other reports, at least 138 persons have been killed, most of them women and children, and about 1,300 homes and churches have been razed.
Abduction, Forced conversion and Marriage of Minors
On 15 November 2016, Mr. Jonathan Usman, a member of ECWA Church Abadawa in Saminaka town, Lere LGA was scheduled to appear before a Sharia Court.
He is being forced to appear before this court by the abductors of his 15 year old daughter, Sarah Jonathan. She was abducted and taken to the Emir of Saminaka’s palace on 16 August 2016. Her abductors stated that they have married her off to an unknown person, on the pretext that she had converted to Islam. Yet, according to the laws of the land she is a minor who is subject to parental religion until reaching the age of majority, and who cannot marry without parental consent.
Unfortunately there are more such illegal actions occurring in Kaduna State; which are rarely made known to the public.
Gentlemen of the press, as preachers of the Word of the Living God, we follow the practical teachings of Christ, who abhors violence in any form. We are forever for peace, brotherliness and everything that will advance reconciliation and the wellbeing of humanity.
While we stand in unity with every Fulani, Hausa and Muslim groups that seeks peace, unity, justice and development, we can no longer maintain silence in the face of unabated illegality, violence and the wasting of innocent lives.
The attacks by Fulani are not self-defence. No group that invades a community, kills women and children, burns homes, foodstuffs and houses of worship can legitimately claim to be acting in self-defence. Even in ancient times, non-combatants were spared from slaughter.
We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the announced intention of the Kaduna State Government to “re-create existing cattle grazing reserves” in Southern Kaduna serves as a major motivation for the renewed ethno-religious violence and cleansing currently being visited on Southern Kaduna communities.
We are aware that the Kaduna State Government, through the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Army, is currently arresting our members, including Royal Fathers, on trumped up charges while the Fulani who have publicly taken responsibility for this carnage are walking free. We therefore request that Abdullahi Hassan Mohammed, Ahmad M. Yandeh and Abdulhamid Musa, be arrested and be made to produce those who are behind this grim sin against man and God. Failure to do so would be a clear indication that the Kaduna State Government has taken sides in this matter.
We also acknowledge the gesture of Kaduna state governor in offering N100 million for the rebuilding of churches and mosques in Southern Kaduna destroyed through violence, we wonder who would be worshiping in these churches, since most of the worshippers have fled for safety or do not even have homes anymore to live in.
We appeal to the Kaduna State Government, in the interests of justice, peace and security, to respect the wishes of the electorate of Southern Kaduna and their elected representatives and stop the creation of grazing reserves in the area, especially since this is tantamount to rewarding perpetrators of murder, arson and destruction for their crimes.
As perpetrators continue to evade consequences for their illegal and violent actions, impunity and lawless are becoming entrenched, to the detriment of the entire state. We therefore call on the State and Federal governments to restore all occupied areas to their rightful owners. Failure to do so will not only encourage further lawlessness; it may also eventually compel the owners of these villages to resort to forceful means to recover their ancestral and only God given lands. We appeal for compensation for affected persons, and for relief materials to be provided to the displaced.
We also appeal to the Federal Government to locate an Army Barracks near the affected areas in order to deter such killings in the future.
Finally, we urge state and federal authorities to uphold the rule of law and the primacy of the national constitution by securing the return of all abducted female minors who have been married illegally, and to combat impunity by ensuring that anyone involved in this appalling violation of the rights of young girls is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
At this point, we hereby declare a three day fast beginning from Monday, 21st – Wednesday 23rd November 2016 and call on all ECWA members and other Christian faithful to join in this spiritual exercise for God’s intervention in the persecution of the Church in Kaduna state.
Thank you, and God Bless our State and our Nation.