In this week, there are yet more attacks on communities, some of which have already been attacked previously and we reported on in past updates. This signals a pattern, in several locales, of repeated attacks on communities, even when they try to negotiate truces with terrorists and bandits. We also see a spike in the incidents of violence against religious, with kidnappings and murders of Catholic clergy.

A number of people, including a local rebel leader, have been killed in attacks across different communities in Ruwandoruwa, Maru Local Government Area, Zamfara state. An eyewitness, Aminu Ilyasu, who is also a member of a local vigilante group known as Yansakai, said the armed bandits who attacked targeted the vigilante leader of the Dangamji community, Dahiru Dangamji. They killed him and three others who were hiding out in a nearby bush. “The bandits purposely targeted a vigilante leader, Dahiru. He was killed alongside three other persons in his hideout at Danzara community. We usually go inside the bush to hide because we know how the bandits operate and they also know that we normally hide inside the bush. Along our way to Danzara, we met them on the road, and we exchanged gunfire that lasted for hours, of our members were killed in the gun battle, while several of the bandits were also killed, if I may get the figures right, we killed about 10 of them.” Another resident of Ruwandoruwa, Abdullahi Ruwandoruwa, said the bandits moved to Arafa, where they killed another three people, including a young 20-year-old named Murtala Hussaini, and Sani Mansur and Abu Boss. “The bandits who were moving along Arafa community area shot two persons dead, and also killed one person at the next settlement along Ruwandoruwa.”



Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an NGO based in the UK, has slammed the now ex-governor of Kaduna state for his comments with regards to the unity experienced by citizens in the state. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai was addressing a group of Muslim leaders in the state following the victory of the All Progressives Congress in the gubernatorial elections, during which address he claimed that the ongoing development in Kaduna state shows the effectiveness of having “a government that has a Muslim as governor, a Muslim as deputy governor, a Muslim as secretary of state government, a Muslim as chief of staff, and a Muslim as finance commissioner.” He made this comment to try and persuade people that the ongoing dispute about having an all-Muslim ticket is not good for the state. However, CSN counters this, saying, “in reality, predominantly Christian southern Kaduna experienced a significant rise in armed attacks during El-Rufai’s eight years in office, with thousands killed, thousands more displaced, and hundreds of villages destroyed, occupied by militia too dangerous to approach. While perpetrators of this violence were rarely apprehended or brought to trial, survivors who spoke about the violence, and members of targeted communities who attempted to defend their homes, were regularly detained arbitrarily and indefinitely, disarmed, or harassed judicially. For example, the Fulani assailants who were eventually arrested for the 2018 abduction and murder of the paramount ruler of the Adara people, HRH Dr Maiwada Raphael Galadima, are yet to face prosecution, and the predominantly Christian chiefdom was subsequently balkanized and placed under two emirates, despite the fact that under 15% of the population in the area are Hausa or Fulani.” They also criticized the former governor for “allegedly favouring Muslims in the allocation of state resources for capital projects and employment opportunities.” The NGO has laid the blame of nearly 900 buildings towards the end of Rufai’s tenure squarely at his feet. “The largescale demolition of properties in the Rigasa area belonging to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a minority Shi’a community that has experienced severe mistreatment under his administration, including the extrajudicial killings of at least 700 members in December 2015. The Gbagyi Villa residential complex in the predominantly Christian southern part of Kaduna city was the next to be targeted, beginning with the demolition of the Alheri Baptist Church on 22 May…At least eight people were killed, and several others were wounded…as the Kaduna State Vigilante Service, opened fire on protesting residents, when the demolitions continued in defiance of a court order.” The president of CSW, Mervyn Thomas, adds to this by saying Rufai’s comments “illustrate that the situation remains highly charged as violations in southern Kaduna continue to manifest along religious fault lines while who’s with the power to end them have prioritized other agendas. We urge the Nigerian authorities to challenge anyone who fosters religious division, to do far more to combat religion-related violence, and to prioritse the protection of vulnerable communities. Members of the international community must also be prepared to raise this human rights crisis which has been allowed to claim the lives of thousands for far too long, and the urgent need for redress and compensation for the extrajudicial killings and demolitions in Kaduna state, with he Nigerian government in bilateral talks and multilateral for a at every opportunity.”



Continuing on with NGOs releasing comprehensive statistic reports of violence in Nigeria, the Stefanos Foundation is the latest to do so, identifying 217 attacks across 34 states between January and April 2023 alone. The NGO, based in Jos, said the attacks resulted in the deaths of 1872 people, the abductions of 714, and the injury of 65. Since the release of this report, the Mwaghavul Development Association in Manu local government area, Plateau state has called for immediate action from state and federal authorities to address the continuing violence in these communities, linking the recent attacks to economic interests. Both the Stefanos Foundation and the Mwaghavul Development Association held a press conference in Abuja, where they highlighted the impact of this violence, and that the government needs to address the root causes of the violence. Advocacy manager at the Stefanos Foundation, Ms. Fatima Njoku, said the stark increase in violence across the country is a major cause for concern for a country like Nigeria that isn’t at war. “From eyewitness reports and testimonies of director victims across the board, we can say that the attacks are carried out in literally the same style, with attackers dressed in similar fashion and victims with similar profiles. This has happened in Agatu, Guma, Logo in Benue state, Kagoro, Zangon Kataf, Kajuru, Kafanchan in southern Kaduna, Bassa, Riyom, Barkin Ladi and now Mangu in Plateau state, and the list goes on. Stefanos Foundation has recorded 217 instances of attacks from 34 states across the Federation between January and April 2023 alone. From these attacks, we recorded 1872 deaths, 714 abductions, and 65 injuries. We find this very alarming for a country that is not at war. This new administration has come in at a time when the security of lives and property, which is the primary purpose of government, is at its worst in Nigeria’s history. We bring to the attention of the government that this is an area that calls for urgent actions.” Mwaghavul Development Association’s national president, Chief Joseph Gwamkat, said the rerun to their ancestral home was nonnegotiable. He claims if things don’t change, there’ll be “hunger and poverty”, especially looking at the current economic climate. “40 percent of farm produce from Plateau comes from Mangu LGA, and the ongoing violence is a threat to their livelihoods. (We) recommend the establishment of state policing, (and) the creation of special courts. The presence of the National Emergency Management Agency of the Plateau State Emergency management Agency has never been felt, even as we speak now.”



Some 40 people have apparently been killed in an attack on some communities in Katsina-Ala local government area, Benue state. These attacks took place in the communities of Imande Mbakange, and other neighbouring communities. Gunmen seemingly entered the communities at around 4am, shooting sporadically and awakening people from sleep. A source in the area said “The gunshots woke the people from sleep and as they made efforts to flee for their lives, anyone they caught up with was killed. As they killed the people, they also set their houses and nearby farmland on fire. As we speak the place is like a war zone. The communities have been deserted and residents of neighbouring communities are also fleeing for fear of being attacked.” The chairman of Katsina-Ala LGA, Mr. Alfred Atera confirmed the attack, condemning those responsible, and appealing o security agencies for help. In a statement released by his media aide, Mr. Atera said “in the early hours of Saturday there was an attack in Imande Mbakange community and other neighbouriing communities in Mbacher Council Ward by unknown gunmen which claimed at least 25 lives and left several others injured and houses burnt with properties worth millions. The chairman describes the senseless killings by the unknown gunmen as inhumane and barbaric and calls on all security formations to double their efforts in combating the renewed attacks as a matter if urgency. The chairman calls on security operatives to intensify surveillance in the areas prone to attacks to avert further breakdown of law within the Local Government. The Chairman while expressing his profound sympathy to families of the victims, promises to continue to support and implement every lawful means in a bid to permanently end the senseless killings of innocent people of Katsina-Ala Local Government and all her inhabitants.” Police Public Relations Officer SP Catherine Anene confirmed the incident but said she had yet to receive full details of the incident.



Over the past weekend, bandits attacked communities in Maradun local government area in Zamfara state, where no less than 30 girls were abducted. A survivor of the attack told an interviewer that one of the abducted girls, who managed to escape, made it out with only her head scarf on her head. The bandits attacked Sakkida and Jambako communities, killing more than 20 villagers in Sakkida, and injuring more. A villager who survived said “we woke up peacefully, there was rain and some locals had prepared to go to the farm. Suddenly, there was a report that the terrorists have attacked a neighbouring village, Sakkida. The local vigilante, JTF, called the people of Janbako and sought help. Our volunteers and other community members took up arms and headed to the village. There is a hill before you reach the village. Not knowing that the terrorists had laid ambush behind the hill, they opened fire on our people. Today in Jambako, 22 people were buried. Security operatives were called but they replied that they cannot come immediately because their armoured personnel carrier was not on the ground. The security operatives tried; they chased the terrorists. When they came back, they came with motorcycles that belonged to the terrorists. Many people were injured, some were shot, and others were hit with machetes. In Janbako, there were no security operatives stationed there to provide security.” A local journalist told how girls were kidnapped in Gora village while out picking firewood in the nearby bush at Daggera, adding that the terrorists have also killed three locals and kidnapped another three, apart from the girls. “Now they’ve abducted our girls, over 30. They sent a message that this year, if we want to cultivate our farms in Daggera, we must have a truce with them. We’ve been doing that with them, we can’t even count the number of times we entered into such an agreement. We don’t know what to do.” He says security operatives are on a search for the kidnapped girls.



A priest has been kidnapped in the diocese of Kafanchan, Kaduna State. Fr Jeremiah Yakubu was taken by force on 11 June. According to the diocese chancellor, the priest was taken from Holy trinity parish in Karku on Sunday at around 11PM. Fr Uchechukwu Okolo, chancellor says, “while we solicit for an intense prayer for his quick and safe release, we equally call on all to refrain from taking the law into their hands… (Diocesan leadership) will use every legitimate means to ensure his quick and safe release. May Jesus, crucified on the cross, listen to our prayers and hasten the unconditional release of his priest and all other kidnapped persons.” Fr Yakubu’s abduction comes hot on the heels of the abduction of another priest, Fr Stanislaus Mbamara, on 2 June, who was later set free. The Christian Association of Nigeria have called on newly sworn in President Bola Tinubu to prioritise the concerns, both economic and security, of people in Nigeria. “Nigeria is facing a number of challenges that require strong and decisive leadership. From security concerns to economic struggles, it is clear that there is much work to be done in order to ensure that Nigeria can reach its full potential,” says Rev Okoh of the association.



Fr Charles Onomhoale Igechi, a priest in the archdiocese of Benin City, was shot and killed on Wednesday, 7 June. In a statement released 8 June, his bishop, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze, expressed shock and sadness at his violent death. “With great shock we received the news this morning that he was shot on his way back to his pace of assignment. The appropriate security agency has been informed and they are presently working on the case. We pray that the perpetrators of this evil act will be brought to the face of justice.” The local ordinary appealed for prayers for the repose of the soul of the priest, who was serving as vice principal of St Michael College, Ikhueniro, at the time of his death. “May God continue to guide and protect all the faithful in the Archdiocese of Benin City and may the soul of Rev. Father Charles Igechi find peace and tranquility in the loving embrace of our risen savior. I entrust you all to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Sorrow.”



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