Nigerian Christians on Sunday joined calls for end to religious war in the West African nation. Eleven Hausa Muslims were killed by an angry crowd in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State Central Nigeria, in retaliation for an attack on a church that left 18 dead, official sources said on Wednesday.
“We lost 11 of our own in this crisis, and five wounded were hospitalized,” Rilwanu Adamu, advisor for Islamic affairs in Benue governorate, told AFP.
The attacks took place in different parts of the city and the death toll could increase further, as some victims whose bodies have been burned to death have not yet been found, he said.
Christians in Africa’s most populous nation are worried about the situation. Pastor Samson Ayokunle is president of the Christian association of Nigeria.
“I believe that President Muhammadu Buhari can bring these killings to an end. I believe that if he rises up, these people will stop. Who are these people? Can they face Buhari? They can’t. Buhari should just stand up and speak to them. We don’t carry arms. We will not carry arms. We don’t teach carrying arms, but we can call on God. Our god is bigger than human ammunition”, Ayokunle said.
On Tuesday, police said two Catholic priests and 16 worshippers were killed in an attack on a church attributed to nomadic herders during a funeral mass in Mbalom, a village some 50 kilometres from Makurdi.
Hundreds of angry young people then took to the streets of the regional capital to protest after the killings, attacking the Muslim minority, mostly Hausa traders unrelated to the pastoral conflict in the region.
The central states of Nigeria are regularly affected by deadly clashes over access to land and water between sedentary Christian farmers and nomadic pastoralists, mostly Fulani and Muslim, accused of ransacking farms with their herds.
This age-old conflict over resources, aggravated by the population explosion in Africa’s most populous country of 180 million inhabitants, has for several months taken on an identity and religious dimension.
According to a September 2017 report by the International Crisis Group, more than 2,500 people were killed in Nigeria in 2016.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro