Pastor highlights villagers’ “dire need” following Fulani militant attacks

A Catholic priest in north-central Nigeria is calling for urgent assistance for his parishioners following two brutal attacks on the community by Islamist militants in the space of two months.

Rev. Fr. Uke Gabriel Ter only took charge of the parish of Zaman Dabo in southern Kaduna State in early September, just weeks after the community had been rocked by an attack in which 30 people died. Soon after his arrival Fulani militants attacked again, killing three.

Father Ter has shared pictures with Christian Solidarity International (CSI) that reveal the appalling violence of the attacks and the scale of the destruction. Some of the victims had been burned and others hacked to death.

In the first attack on August 5, 18 houses, a hotel, and viewing center were completely burnt down. Many of Father Ter’s parishioners were directly affected with more than half the victims coming from his parish. The remainder came from a neighboring parish.

When the militants returned a few weeks later, Father Ter was alerted by the “thunderous” sound of gunfire.

“l felt terrified and prayed for my safety and that of the community,” the priest told CSI. It wasn’t until 20 minutes into the attack that a team of mobile police and the Nigerian Army arrived to counter the Fulani herdsmen.

Burnt to death

Sadly, they were not in time to stop the killing. Dogara Thomas Isaac, a student in his mid-20s who had returned home from college due to the coronavirus, was murdered on the farm where he was working.

“I buried him at around 9pm that same night because his parents were so distraught at the sight of his dead body,” recalled the pastor.

The other two victims – Benjamin Sunday and Kaka Ishaya – were burnt in their respective homes. Kaka was at least 76 years old and blind. Benjamin was in his late 30s.

Many people have been rendered homeless by the twin attacks. While the two communities affected have received initial assistance from Kafanchan diocese the villagers’ needs are great, said Father Ter, as he appealed for urgent help.

“At the moment, people are in dire need of roofing sheets and cement, in order to rebuild the burnt structures. They are also in need of cash to buy essentials. Any help is highly appreciated.”