The archbishop of Jos has released a report suggesting recent attacks in his diocese were reprisals for violence earlier this year.
According to the report by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, the attacks on villages in Plateau State appear to be reprisals for January’s riots in Jos in which more than 250 people lost their lives.
The archbishop says many people believe the attackers in the most recent incident were Fulani Muslims from neighboring Bauchi State.
More than one hundred people were killed in early morning raids in the villages of Dogon Nahawa, Ratsat and Zot Foron – located some 9.5 miles south of state capital Jos – which took place on Sunday, March 7th.
The report, which was sent to charities supporting projects in Nigeria including Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), said: “The villagers of the Berom ethnic group (mainly Christians) alleged that their attackers were Fulani Muslim herdsmen who swooped on them while they slept.”
“The attack which lasted more than two hours began at about 2:30 am and the victims were completely unprepared for the fury of the marauders.”
“The free use of guns, cutlasses and other lethal weapons left little chance for the victims, mainly children and women who were hacked down and burnt as they attempted to escape the massacre.”
The report told how one resident of Dogon Nahawa, Peter Jang, described the attackers shooting in the air to bring people out of their houses – and when the villagers came out, they started shooting at them, attacking them with machetes and similar weapons, and burning their homes.
The attackers left so quickly that neither surrounding villagers nor police were able to organize themselves in time to stop their escape.
The archbishop said people fear further attacks in Jos and Bukuru.
He also wrote: “military personnel have been deployed to control the situation while top level peace talks calling for rational reasoning are being held at several levels in the search for peace.”
A Peace Conference organized by Jos’s Institute of Governance and Social Research, in collaboration with the British Department for International Development (DFID) and the Plateau State Government, went ahead on Monday, March 8th.
Members included serving and retired security officials, government ministers, religious and community leaders as well as three former Nigeria heads of State: General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Chief Ernest Shonekan.
Archbishop Kaigama, who was present as the co-chairman for the Inter-religious
Council for Peace and Harmony, stressed the social, ethnic, economic and political causes of the violence.
The archbishop is also a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Jos crisis set up by the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, which is investigating how to prevent future violence.
At the end of his report Archbishop Kaigama described how the archdiocese is organizing a Mass of solidarity to pray with and for those affected by the recent attacks.
The Mass will be held Friday, March 19th at St. Jarlath’s Parish Church Bukuru. Bukuru suffered badly during the recent attacks.