Johan Viljoen, Reabetswe Tloubatla
14 July 2023


Gunmen invaded communities in Ukum Local Government Area, Benue state, this past weekend. Both Zaki Akpunna 1 and Diom communities were targeted. Locals say the gunmen attacked around 8am on Saturday, burning houses in adjoining villages in the process. According to one, the attackers went to Zaki Akpunna and killed 24people. “You know that the three local government areas in the Sankera axis had long been under these local bandits headed by Gana and since he was killed, his men have divided and are controlled by different leaders. The cause of this attack is not known yet but the information we got was that gunmen numbering about 20 invaded Akpunna and other villages in Ukum LGA and killed many people and burnt down several houses. At least, 24 bodies have been recovered and the search is still on to find those missing.” Council chairman, Mr Kartyo Tyoumbur, has confirmed the number killed, saying “I learnt that after they attacked Akpunna and Diom, the armed gang went to the Tine-Nune community on Zaki Biam-Wukari Road, where the military confronted them. Though no one knows how many of them were killed, I believe some of them must have been neutralized in that exchange.” He insisted that no one knew the motive behind the attack, therefore making it nearly impossible for the community to have been able to proactively prepare for it. The police have also confirmed the incident, with state police public relations officer, Catherine Anene, saying, “today, 8/7/2023 around 12pm, a militia gang invaded Akpunna village, Ukum LGA of Benue state, and shot sporadically. Upon receipt of this information, police teams, in collaboration with other security agencies, rushed to the area and engaged these bandits, who were eventually repelled. Eight corpses were recovered at the scene while many other injured persons were taken to a hospital for treatment. (the) Operation is ongoing in the area.”


Two women, around 50 kilometres away from Jos, Plateau state, were shot and killed on their way back home from their allotment, a few days ago, on 10 July. This attack happened just hours after the burial of some villagers, eight of them, who were killed the day before, in another attack. These women are the latest victims in a never-ending stream of attacks in the surrounding areas, which has claimed 350 lives so far since May 2023. They were ambushed by terrorists hiding behind tall trees, near Rim village, according to Dalyop Solomon, a community leader.  The attacks have been linked to the Islamic terrorists, who are identified as Fulanis. According to Intersociety, a radicalized faction of the Fulani have been raising hell in recent years, and are
accused of killing at least 2500 Nigerian Christians just this year, more than triple the amount attributed to Boko Haram, with at least 500 of those coming from Plateau state. The attacks have been linked to efforts to displace people from their land in Mangu, primarily to seize lush lucrative land, according to Plateau state legislator Bala Ewanie. “More than 50 of our communities in Mangu County have been displaced in the past two months. Our people can no longer go to their farms or homes, and yet nothing is being done.” Newly elected Plateau state governor, Caleb Mutfwang, imposed an emergency 24-hour curfew on Mangu county in an effort to slow down the attacks that have claimed over 200 lives since may. However, even with the curfew in effect, eight people, including an infant, were killed in Jos. this is also after another shooting, in southern Riyom, where a neighbourhood watch member was killed while his fellow villagers were attending a church service. Timothy Dantong, Plateau state Assemblyman, says, “we’re not questioning our military’s ability, but it seems they lack the efficiency to prevent terrorists form killing and capturing communities. It looks like the Fulani have raised militias stronger than the Nigerian military because, even when they are linked to an attack, nothing is done.” Even Nigerians in other countries are raising the alarm, with Felicia Sodine, an expatriate community member based in the United States, demanding action. “The continual loss of lives and property is unacceptable, with our government failing to provide adequate security. Enough is enough.”


Another Catholic priest has been kidnapped, adding to a growing tally of religious who are being abducted, some even killed, in Nigeria. Fr Joseph Azubuike, parish priest at St Charles parish, Mgbaleze village, Isu, in Onicha Local Government Area, Ebonyi state, was taken this past Monday with three other people. The chancellor of the diocese, Fr Matthew Opoke, confirmed the abduction, saying the priest was taken on his way back to the mission after completing evangelical duties. Opoke confirmed that the kidnappers had established the diocese and have demanded an undisclosed amount of money in ransom.

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