Zenger | Lawrence Zongo | March 23, 2020
The five men with machetes were cornered in the dark amid a stand of bushes near the village where they had come to kill Christians, the monkey hunter said.
“The youth were Fulani men, come to kill as many of our people as they could, but when they retreated they got lost trying to find the road out. Probably because they were not from our neighborhood,” Musa Bala told Zenger News as he retraced the steps of the March 3 attack. Two people were shot dead that night in Matsirga, one village among thousands in the Middle Belt of Nigeria’s badlands.
Three attackers with AK-47 rifles left through another route and escaped. Bala and four of his fellow hunters carrying flashlights and primitive shotguns forced the other five, wielding machetes, to surrender. The self-named “village vigilantes” are volunteers who handle local security.
Bala had heard sporadic gunfire that night and suspected it was a Fulani terrorist raid, he said. He knew the pastoral Muslims had targeted his town’s Christian farmers before, hoping they would abandon their five-acre farms and take shelter among 3 million Nigerians in Internally Displaced Persons camps.
The slaughter of dozens of his countrymen, shot or hacked to death on a humid night, would have been increasingly ordinary. Nigeria’s strictly enforced gun control laws have left automatic weapons in the hands of only the army and criminals, leaving villagers undefended when the eight attackers opened fire with their Kalashnikovs.
Shotguns carried by traditional hunters are illegal and subject to seizure, according to Bala, but police typically look the other way.