Attacks On Nigerian Christians Spark National Day Of Mourning

A mass burial of Christians murdered by Fulani herdsmen.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is calling for this Sunday to be marked as a national day of mourning for Christians killed by Muslim Fulani terrorists in southern Kaduna State.

Repeated attacks by groups of armed Fulani herdsmen on Christian villages and leaders in the country's Middle Belt have seen hundreds killed or displaced.

Nigeria's Federal Government has pledged to establish cattle ranches to resolve the frequent clashes between Muslim herdsmen and Christian farmers, which President Buhari has attributed to "poverty, injustice and the lack of job opportunities". Other analysts cite climate change and desertification as factors.

CAN has described the killings as ethnic and religious cleansing by "Islamic fundamentalists disguising as Fulani herdsmen".

According to Variguard, CAN commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his successes against the Boko Haram terrorists but expressed sadness over what it said was his silence regarding Fulani attacks.

CAN's general secretary Dr Musa Asake said Buhari's silence "speaks volumes over perceived official endorsement of the dastardly and ungodly acts".

He said Sunday, January 8, had been designated by CAN's president as a national day of mourning by Nigerian Christians, including those from the world-wide diaspora.

Asake said: "We are to pray fervently for our southern Kaduna brothers and sisters who are victims of these wanton killings and also for the peace of our dear country Nigeria. Therefore, all Christians are to dress in mourning attire of black clothes or dresses in all our church services on January 8, 2017. We are to pray that God who delivered the Jews from Haman should deliver Christians from Hamans in Nigeria. An injustice to one is an injustice to all."

He said the Church in Nigeria had been subjected to a "systematic genocide and persecution" in recent years through attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen in which thousands of Christians had been killed and hundreds of churches destroyed.

President Buhari has ordered Nigeria's inspector-general of police to visit Kaduna to assess the situation there and take "strong actions" to end the violence, according to a government statement yesterday. His spokesman said a mobile police detachment had been set up and that the army was setting up an additional two battalions there. 

While religion is a factor in the conflict, observers say it is not the primary motivation for the violence, which is driven by competition for land, poverty and injustice.