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HomeBreakingLand-grabbing Murders in Plateau State Test the Faith of the Persecuted

Land-grabbing Murders in Plateau State Test the Faith of the Persecuted

Yet Christians Rally for a Peaceful Christmas in Five States

By Masara Kim

On December 20, Islamic militants launched a brutal attack 35 miles south of Jos, the capital of Plateau State in central Nigeria, killing two Christian residents, town leadership told TruthNigeria.

The evening attack in the village of Gana-Ropp located in the Barkin Ladi county 50 miles south of Jos is part of a series of renewed attacks by Islamic terrorists claiming dozens of residents in the farming north and central regions of the State, wrote Solomon Dalyop, a tribal youth leader in Plateau State in a press release.

A group of terrorists shouting “Allahuakbar,” (God is great) armed with assault rifles opened fire in a residential area at 8 p.m. local time, wrote Dalyop who is also the CEO of the local nonprofit, Emancipation Center for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN). Two people were killed, and three others hospitalized following the attack, Dalyop wrote in text messages to TruthNigeria.

According to him, one person initially died at the scene of the attack. Shortly after, a second victim succumbed to bullet injuries while receiving treatment at the hospital, wrote Dalyop.

The attack followed just days after ECCVN organized a prayer rally for a peaceful Christmas, reigniting concerns about potential disruptions by terrorists during the celebrations. TruthNigeria had previously issued advance warnings of attacks leading up to Christmas.

“The tragic attack was foreshadowed by credible intelligence [distributed in the Berom tribal community by an anonymous community of informants] which revealed that Fulani militant groups have vowed to resume hostilities in villages and communities during the Christmas celebrations,” Dalyop wrote.

The Fulani, a large West African ethnic group with at least 10 million members in Nigeria, including some of the country’s most influential political elites, has been blamed for thousands of genocidal massacres in the country, according to media reports. 

Unabated Attacks on Farmers in Central Plateau State

According to the international crime tracking group Intersociety, more than 2,500 Christians were killed by Islamic terrorists in Nigeria in the first half of 2023, with at least 20 percent of the deaths recorded in Plateau State. In one county alone, at least 350 people were killed between May and June.

In a recent attack on August 10 in Barkin Ladi, 21 people were killed, with over half of them burned alive in their homes. Dalyop told TruthNigeria at the scene of the early morning attack the burned victims included children and elderly men trapped within their homes by dozens of shooting terrorists who sneaked into the village.

Citizen guard defending his village near Mangu town in Central Plateau State. photo by Masara Kim for TruthNigeria.

Unlike the latest incident on December 20 which saw the military responding swiftly, according to Dalyop, the terrorists who attacked Baten village in the Heipang District on August 10 rained fire for two hours and retreated following a brave resistance by a small team of pipe firing self-defense volunteers before the military arrived from half a mile away. The military officials in Plateau State did not respond to queries from TruthNigeria regarding the apparent anomalous reaction times.

Christians Rally for Peace

Tired of burying their loved ones in the midst of a large military task force with hundreds of armed units and checkpoints across the state, persecuted Christians in the region on December 13 resorted to prayer for their safety during the Christmas celebrations.

The air was a chill 55 degrees Fahrenheit on December 13 in Ban, about the usual weather in the slightly elevated city of Jos. A gathering of singing Christians, holding candles and placards, marched for over two hours in the farm suburb on the southern outskirts of the city.

Comprising mainly of residents displaced by jihadist attacks, the group of 80 to 100 marchers had a singular wish — a Christmas filled with peace.

Despite enduring the loss of everything due to terror attacks, they remained hopeful and looked forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus, finding strength in their faith.

Signs such as “A Peaceful Christmas for All,” “Christmas without Terror,” “End the Pogrom,” “Stop Forced Islamization,” and “Religious Freedom for All” were displayed by the marchers, which included women and children.

“We’re tired of mass funerals,” said former Minister of Water Resources Sarah Ochepe, who led the walk.

Acknowledging the Bible’s warning about persecution in the last days, Mrs. Ochepe, from the Barkin Ladi area where Ban is located, expressed, “Our goal is to remember those we’ve lost, appreciate God for saving our lives, and pray for sustained protection, urging persecuted Christians statewide to do the same,” she said.

“Plateau State never faced these threats until the last two decades when attacks began spreading rapidly,” she added.

Solomon Dalyop, CEO of the local nonprofit Emancipation Center for Crisis Victims in Nigeria (ECCVN), which organized the march, explained that it’s an annual event held simultaneously in Plateau, Benue, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, and Zamfara.

“We do this every year-end as a ritual to call for God’s protection so we can celebrate the coming of His son, the Lord Jesus, our savior,” Dalyop said.

“We at ECCVN prioritize the safety of Christians in Nigeria and often organize this event. By God’s grace, we’ve stood for the persecuted in various ways, including legal actions against the military to enforce their rights. We’ve provided food rations and medical assistance to our brothers affected by Islamic violence, and we will continue to do so,” he emphasized.

Masara Kim is an award-winning conflict reporter in Jos and the senior editor of TruthNigeria.

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