Zenger | Lawrence Zongo | April 3 , 2020
Armed hordes of Muslim militants rampaged through villages in central Nigeria this week, killing unarmed farmers and burning people alive in their houses. In a nation of 204 million people where COVID-19 has killed only two, it’s mass murder that is tearing society apart.
“More than 200 Fulani herdsmen came to my community to kill us yesterday,” said Monday Bato, a farmer in the village of Ancha, home to 1,800.
“They all had military guns, AK-47. They were speaking Hausa and Fulani language as they burned my house and 16 other houses, including all [the] harvested grains and vegetables,” Bato told Zenger News on Thursday.
The butchering swarm attacked Ancha before midnight on Tuesday, Bato said, killing a pregnant woman and two other villagers and leaving three severely wounded.
Community watchmen called the nearest police division in Bassa, 1 hour and 40 minutes away by car. No one answered.
“I tried calling the security, but their number was not going that night,” said David Chinge, who serves as secretary to the king of the region’s Irigwe Chiefdom.Nigeria’s Fula ethnicity comprises 15.4 million people, nearly all of them Muslims. President Muhammadu Buhari is among them. Their numbers are spread across at least 18 African nations.
As Ancha residents buried their dead Wednesday afternoon, Fulani bandits raided another village just a mile away. Three hundred swarmed into Hukke, torching a house that sheltered seven senior citizens who couldn’t walk.
All of them were burned alive, according to Christ Gado, a Hukke resident. “We had 23 houses set ablaze,” he said.
The aftermath the following morning was grim: Men carried charred remains to shared graves while women wailed.
The Hukke victims ranged in age from 67 to 90: Mary Alhassa, Jummai Geye, Madah Imeh, Gado Muntu, Izinpa Muntu, Rigwe Muntu and Gado Ngulu.
On Wednesday night was the nearby town of Nkiendoro, home to 750 people. The militants’ arson fires consumed two houses and their stored food, neighborhood watchman Sunday Josiah told Zenger.
“I called the divisional police officer that night,” Josiah said, but impassable roads meant “they could not come until the following day.”