Despite efforts by religious and political leaders, violence has continued unabated in Plateau state. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

In Nigeria, dozens lost their lives during the first week of September as Fulani militants continued their killing spree in the central state of Plateau.

Last month, more than 20 people – including a pastor and four members of his family – were killed in various raids attributed to Fulani militants, as World Watch Monitor reported. Among them were Rev. Adamu Wurim Gyang, 50, and his three children, who were set ablaze and burnt beyond recognition, while his wife, Jummai, 45, was shot and left to die in a pool of blood when Fulanis stormed their Abonong village on 28 August.

Since then, the violence has continued, with more attacks in the same area and elsewhere.

On 6 September, four men lost their lives, while two others sustained bullet wounds as Fulani militants attacked their village of Nding Susut, in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area (LGA).

Local resident James Pam, 34, told Watch Monitor that the killings came just two days after a peace meeting between members of the predominantly Christian farmers and the mainly Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Barkin Ladi.

“We thought everything was all right between us until this morning [6 Sept], around 6.30am, when we heard gunshot sounds,” he said. “We later found out that the Fulani militants killed some of our youths, who were on their way to farm.”

Pam said some members of his community lost their lives in previous attacks in April and that the peace meeting was organised by the army commander in Barkin Ladi, with the aim to forestall any further outbreaks of violence in the community.

“Unfortunately, the community was still attacked this morning,” he said.

On the same day, gunmen believed to be Fulani militants ambushed six people on their way to farm elsewhere in Barkin Ladi, killing four.

A day earlier (5 September), the traditional ruler of Kwi village, in Riyom Local Government Area, was arrested by security forces. Chief Joshua Dung Lwon, a Christian, spent a night at the army headquarters in Jos, before being released the following day. His arrest took place while attacks targeting his community were going on.

On 4 September, five people were killed by armed men believed to be Fulani militants. According to local sources, the attackers, who came in a van at about 12 noon, sprayed bullets on people at the tin mining site in Razat village, in Kwock Ropp District. The victims were four men – whose first names were Gyang, Jillim, Lamba and David – and a woman called Rebecca.

Other reports said two people were killed by suspected Fulani militants while on their way to another mining site on the same day in Gana Rop, which straddles Bokkos and Barkin Ladi LGAs. A week earlier, on 28 August, the same community had suffered a similar attack, which claimed three lives.

“This spate of attacks on ethnic communities is of great concern and we continue to call on the government to do more in protecting the life of its citizen from terrorists,” said Mark Lipdo, the director of Stefanos Foundation, a human rights and advocacy group active in Plateau.

About two months ago, his organisation issued a report highlighting the scale of a June massacre which claimed 230 lives and rendered more than 11,500 people homeless.

Thousands of people displaced by recent attacks are desperately in need of food, shelter, and psycho-social support. (Photo: Stefanos Foundation)

On 2 September, at least 11 people were killed and 12 injured in a drive-by shooting by Fulani militia in the Du community of Jos South LGA. Details provided by advocacy group CSW, quoting eyewitnesses, said a Fulani militia arrived in a Hilux van at Latiya at about 8.30pm. They opened fire on people in their shops and on the road using semi-automatic weapons, before speeding off minutes later.

While a police spokesperson said 11 people had died, members of the local community put the number at 12, with one missing and presumed dead. Twelve people sustained varying degrees of injury, five of whom are reportedly receiving treatment at Plateau Hospital, while five are being treated at Jos University Teaching Hospital, where two have reportedly died.

Local resident Simon Dung Zih told World Watch Monitor what happened:

“With my friend, we were coming from Lamingo when we saw a moving vehicle coming from Jos; the vehicle was at very high speed and that gave us concern. We continued moving towards Bukuru, and as we got to Yelwa Club, we received a call from someone, telling us that they were attacked.

“The person told us that some people driving in a very fast car shot sporadically on people in the community and killed many. We waited for some time before rushing to the scene of the attack, only to discover that several people were killed and some wounded. Those wounded were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. When I went back to the scene of the attack the next morning, I counted 12 dead bodies.”

Another local advocacy group, the Middle Belt Forum, denounced the violence in a series of tweets signed by its coordinator of public communication.

“The terrorist attacks on the people of Plateau state have entered a new dimension with the drive-by shooting,” the statement said, describing them as being “one too many in a week filled with renewed attacks on the people of Plateau state”.

In another similar incident, two people were reported killed in an ambush laid by Fulani herdsmen in Adu village, Bassa LGA, on 2 September. According to local sources, the attack was carried out at about 11pm. One of the victims, Monday Ariki, was reportedly cut into pieces, while the second victim, Likita Tsi, died in hospital the following morning.

A spokesperson of the Miango Youth Development Association, Lawrence Zongo, told the Nigerian View Point online magazine that six people in the same district had their farm produce (almost due for harvest) destroyed by Fulani herdsmen during the week. He said the herdsmen were grazing on the farmlands indiscriminately, without being arrested, and called their actions “evil and inhuman”.

“So far, we lost 27 of our people in ambush attacks from April to September, 2018,” he said. “The Fulani herdsmen killers have changed their method of killings and have adopted ambushing of our youths, targeting them when going back home or going to farm.”