The violence against Christian communities in Nigeria continues unabated, resulting in dozens of deaths this February and March. As authorities seek how to effectively deal with the attacks, a West African court has ruled that, at least in one instance during 2016, Nigeria failed in its duty to protect citizens.
Danger comes from multiple directions. The Boko Haram terrorist group continues to oppress, though the number of incidents seems to be on the decline due to concerted pressure from various countries throughout West Africa. On March 14th, insurgents attacked the village of Ngurhlavu in Borno State. While most villagers safely escaped into the bush, six homes and a church were destroyed. One church member, Avi Lassa, was killed after stepping on an improvised explosive device the perpetrators had left behind. Two sisters, Stella and Plungwa Ibrahim, were also abducted.
The most devastating violence in recent months has been from the Fulani herdsmen. While some of their opposition comes from what they perceive as government imposition against their nomadic lifestyle, much of the resulting violence is targeted against Christians.
Kaduna State has been the centre for much of the recent opposition. In mid-February, more than 130 were killed. Since then, over 100 additional deaths were reported to have taken place within the state and hundreds of homes have been burned.
March 4th also brought an attack in Benue State, where more than 20 people were killed by gun or machete. Those who survived have been scattered while seeking safety. Back in 2016, Benue State was the setting of a horrific attack which has since resulted in international condemnation against the Nigerian authorities for their lack of response. The court of the Economic Community of West African States ruled this January that the Nigerian government failed to provide necessary protection for their citizens against attacks in Agatu by Fulani herdsmen. The previous surge of attacks, which began late February 2016, resulted in as many as 500 fatalities.
Prayerfully lift up the people of rural Nigeria who are facing this ongoing violence. Pray that the governing officials and police presiding over these areas will take necessary action to stop the violence and resolve the grievances of the Fulani. Pray for the many Nigerians who are now grieving the loss of loved ones, as well as those facing financial devastation due to their homes having been destroyed. Also remember the abducted victims presently in captivity, such as the two mentioned sisters, as well as Leah Sharibu, in addition to the more than 100 students still missing after the 2014 attack on the Chibok school.