In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
Besides the killings, hundreds of Christians have been displaced. Houses, worship centers and crops that were ready for harvest have all been destroyed.
Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed more than 40 Christians in an attack in this town in northern Nigeria on Saturday (Oct. 15) and left another eight dead in an assault three weeks earlier, area leaders said.
Besides the eight slain on Sept. 24-26 in Godogodo, a predominantly Christian community in Kaduna state, the Muslim Fulani herdsmen also wounded eight Christians by gunshot and machete cuts, the leaders said.
Godogodo residents said that the second massacre began at 5 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 15), barely two hours after Morning Star News left after investigating the September attack. The Rev. Thomas Akut of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Good News Church in Godogodo said the assailants burned houses and shot Christians dead in the attack over the weekend.
The 41-year-old Pastor Akut and his family escaped harm, sleeping on the ground outside town until Sunday morning (Oct. 16), when they made their way to Kafanchan, he told Morning Star News by phone.
“We fled into the bushes, and some of us escaped to safer areas,” he said. “The attackers were in the hundreds and were well armed. Some of them wore army uniforms, while others wore police uniforms. Some of them exchanged gunfire with the few soldiers stationed at the post office in the town, while others burned down houses of Christians.”
Initially he saw 22 Christians had been killed, he said.
“This casualty figure is only those I saw the following morning, but the number of deaths may be higher as many were killed in the bushes too,” Pastor Akut said.
Solomon Musa, an attorney and president of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), said at a press conference on Monday (Oct. 17) that local residents identified at least 40 people who had been killed.
“Godogodo communities once again came under very fierce, terrifying, brutal, savage and barbarous attack by Fulani herdsmen without provocation of any nature from Saturday 15th October, 2016, to Sunday afternoon,” he said. “So far, the locals have been able to identify not less than 40 corpses, aside from the several other corpses burnt beyond recognition.”
A Kaduna State Command spokesman reportedly said the official death toll remained at 20.
Nearly all houses in Godogodo have been burned, SOKAPU's Musa said, and the Muslim Fulani herdsmen also destroyed property worth hundreds of millions of naira, besides grazing their cattle on farmers’ crops and destroying what remained.
“The savagery and barbarity of the attack is beyond belief,” Musa said. “Yet, governments at the federal and state levels appear quiet and noncommittal. We have been abandoned, deserted and neglected.”
Pastor Isaac Balason of Nasara Baptist Church, Godogodo, spoke to Morning Star News while the town was under attack.
“It is now 8:30 p.m., and the attack is ongoing,” he said by phone on Saturday night. “We’re not sure we’ll survive this time. Please be in prayers with us.”
The following morning, Pastor Balason told Morning Star News that herdsmen had burned down houses in Angwan Ninzo and Angwan Jaba, among other areas.
“Thank God we survived, but many others have lost their lives,” he said.
CHURCH BUILDINGS AFFECTED, HUNDREDS DISPLACED
Christian leaders in Godogodo told Morning Star News that 16 church buildings and worship centers were affected in the two attacks on Godogodo.
The damaged buildings belonged to St. Francis Catholic Church, St. Simeon Anglican Church, Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), Deeper Life Bible Church, Grace of God Church, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Assemblies of God Church, ECWA I & II, ECWA Good News, ECWA Kibam, Lord’s Chosen Church, Methodist Church of Nigeria, Nasara Baptist Church, Christ Apostolic Church, and Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Pastor Akut said the herdsmen have also been destroying Christians’ farms, a tactic he said is aimed at displacing Christians and starving survivors to death.
“Our farms have been destroyed,” Pastor Akut said. “Crops that are now ready for harvest have all been destroyed by the herdsmen. Members of our churches cannot even go to these farms, as anyone who attempts to do so is murdered by the herdsmen. Most of the villages around Godogodo have been destroyed and thousands of Christians displaced.”
Akut said the attack has displaced all 245 members of his church including himself. He said he saw the attacks as an Islamic war against Christians.
“This is a jihad,” he said. “It is an Islamic holy war against Christians in the southern part of Kaduna state.”
Pastor Balason, 34, said all 120 members of his of Nasara Baptist Church had been displaced.
“Three out my 120 members were killed during the first attack, and the rest, including myself, have been displaced,” he said. “I cannot say whether they all survived this latest attack, as it is difficult at this moment to know the situation they are in.”
Samuel Musa, a 60-year-old elder with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Godogodo, told Morning Star News shortly before the second attack that during Sabbath worship, the church usually had 50 members, but that the first attack on the town displaced all of them except him and three others.
“We have lost so much to the attacks by the herdsmen,” Musa said.
Ishaya Danladi Mallam, 46, an elder with the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC), told Morning Star News that the first attack displaced all but 24 of the church’s 220 members.
“We covet your prayers and those of other brethren,” he said. “We are facing very threatening, tough times.”