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Fulani Terrorists Strike Again in Kaduna, Executing Volunteer Guards

By Steven Kefas

(Kajuru) – Five citizen guards defending their village of Ewehko, approximately 50 miles from Kaduna city, paid the ultimate price, Monday, June 17 during a brutal attack by radicalized, Islamist terrorists.  A local woman also was murdered, bringing the death count to six martyrs.

The deadly assault, which reportedly began around 2:14 pm, saw the militants set fire to residents’ property in what locals told TruthNigeria was another reprisal for the community’s attempt to defend itself against killers.  The town had formed an ad hoc but effective security team to fight back against kidnappers and terrorists who have made life hell for Christian farmers in the state for years.

Mahmuda Gambo, a respected citizen guard defending the town of Ewehko, in Kajuru County, until his murder on June 17, 2024. Credit: Steven Kefas.
Mahmuda Gambo, a respected citizen guard defending the town of Ewehko, in Kajuru County, until his murder on June 17, 2024. Credit: Steven Kefas.

Among the casualties was Mahmuda Gambo, a respected civic voice who frequently spoke out about the terrorist threat facing villages in Kajuru. Gambo was beheaded by the terrorists – a grisly act likely intended to spread fear and silence other would-be critics of their campaign.

“He saw it coming,” said Jonathan Sani, a close friend of the slain community leader.

 “Two weeks ago he invited me to his house and told me many things happening in his community and neighboring villages. He told me he was scared for his life and felt he was being targeted. Today he is gone, killed in a brutal manner to send a message to others who may want to be as bold as him,” Sani told TruthNigeria.

The attack on Ewehko, home to around 10,000 farmers, lands another traumatic blow to residents of Kajuru County. Roughly three  weeks earlier on May 29, a dozen civilians were massacred by what locals believe is the same terrorist, Islamist militia at a bustling market in the nearby town of Maro.

A local vigilante officer named Sambo, who narrowly escaped being killed himself and witnessed the carnage in Ewehko firsthand, said the six victims appeared carefully selected by the assailants.

“The attack looks like a reprisal following the community’s resolve to beef up their local security against the marauding herdsmen who have been launching kidnappings and other deadly attacks in recent weeks,” Sambo told TruthNigeria.

The violence is part of a wider crisis spanning several states in northern Nigeria, where heavily armed Fulani militias have escalated a harsh campaign of terror against rural communities. Though the Nigerian government repeatedly has claimed success in combating the threat, terrorist commanders such as Bello Turji and Beleri defiantly responded last week via a video circulated online.

Flanked by armed fighters, the duo mocked the state’s efforts against them and called on security forces to “stop attacking innocent farmers in the guise of fighting terrorists.” The belligerent propaganda excerpt underscored the continuing potency of the militants speaking the Fulfulde language spoken by 8 million members of the Fulani tribe. The Fulani bandits reportedly retain vast capacities for violence despite mounting battlefield losses.

 The army and air force, headed by President Tinubu, has launched wave after wave of assaults on terrorist-bandits in the states bordering Kaduna for 9 months. But kidnap-for-ransom gangs and mercenaries-for-hire had been proliferating for eight years during the previous administration of Muhammadu Buhari (2015-2023) in the Northwestern States, and their ranks had swelled to 30,000, according to New Lines Magazine.

On the ground in Kajuru, the crisis shows no sign of abating. A soldier stationed at one of the county’s checkpoints, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said a lack of strategic resolve has allowed the terrorists to openly maneuver from the Northwest, their traditional stronghold, into the region with ease.

“Those people attacking and killing villagers can be stopped, if the right approach is deployed,” he said. “We cannot continue fighting them as if we are pitying them. How can you bombard them in the Northwest and then somehow allow them to move to the central part of the state? To do what exactly?”

The soldier also lamented the repeated failure of military leadership to give troops a sufficient morale boost, claiming their superiors too often “politicize the war on terror” at the expense of effective battlefield leadership. The concerns echoed long-standing criticisms that Nigeria’s military efforts have been crippled by corruption, poor training, and a lack of accountability.

For the residents of Ewehko, such strategic lapses have translated into continued anguish. The indelible images of Mahmuda Gambo’s beheading and the widespread destruction left by Monday’s attack sent further shockwaves through a community well-accustomed to tragedy but no less impacted by the latest senseless loss of life.

As they mourn their dead, including the fearless advocate Mr. Gambo, weary civilians in Ewehko and surrounding areas are left wondering how much longer the killing must continue before authorities finally dedicate the resources – and resolve – necessary to halt the Fulani militant scourge once and for all.

Steven Kefas is a conflict reporter for Truth Nigeria, covering the Middle Belt region.

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