GURA DABWAM, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – In the latest night raids by Muslim herdsmen and soldiers in Plateau state, a Christian and his two teenage sons this month were killed and his wife wounded, Christian leaders said.
Ethnic Fulani herdsmen and soldiers on Sept. 3 raided Gura Dabwam village, near Jos in Gyel District, at about 10 p.m., killing 42-year-old Dauda Dalyop, Bitrus Dauda Dalyop, 17, and Daniel Dauda Dalyop, 15, according to Musa Pam, an uncle of the slain father. Dalyop’s wife, Kangyang Dauda Dalyop, 35, was in critical condition at Plateau State Specialist Hospital, he told Morning Star News. A 5-year-old boy survived the attack unhurt.
Pam, a 59-year-old leader of the predominantly Christian village, told Morning Star News that the assailants approached from the eastern and the western ends of the hamlet.
“We can authoritatively tell you that these attackers are Fulani herdsmen, and they carried out this attack in collaboration with some Muslim soldiers,” Pam said. “Dauda Dalyop’s house is at the extreme end of the western part of this village as you can see, and the attackers used the hills at this end to gain access to his house.”
Pam and his family had retired to their rooms at about 10 p.m. when they heard a burst of gunshots outside their home, he said.
“Within minutes we realized that the entire village was surrounded as gunshots were fired indiscriminately for 15 minutes,” he said. “Then we did not hear anything again. After about 20 minutes, which seemed like eternity to us, we braved it and came out only to realize that my nephew Dauda, and his two sons, Bitrus and Daniel were dead, while his wife was injured.”
The family’s Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) pastor, Davou Pam, told Morning Star News that his family had just finished their nightly devotional time and also had just gone to bed when they heard the gunshots.
“I tried and pushed my wife and children into some uncompleted buildings within the pastoral compound, and then after about 20 minutes, the gunmen retreated as we did not hear further shootings,” said Davou Pam, 52. “I heard wailings from some houses, and then I went there to find that my church member, Dauda Dalyop, and his two sons were killed, while his wife was injured.”
The pastor said his church has been finding ways to care for the wounded mother and her only surviving son.
“Dauda Dalyop is survived by his wife who is now in a critical state in the hospital in spite of the bullets that have been extracted from her body in the hospital; their only surviving son, Dantong, is just 5 years old,” he said.
Musa Pam added that another area Christian village, Gura Riyom, was attacked sometimes last year in a similar fashion.
“Two Christians were shot,” he said. “A woman was killed, while a man whose name is Gyang was shot in his leg, and the leg has been amputated.”
Gura Dabwam village, of the Jos South Local Government Area 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Jos, has an Assemblies of God Church and the local COCIN congregation.
Davou Pam appealed to the Nigerian government to aid the victims and their families.
“What the government should do is to assist these victims,” said the pastor, whose church has about 200 members.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live primarily in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north, according to Operation World. Plateau state, in the central part of the country, is home to both Muslims and Christians.
Demolition of Church Buildings, Schools
In Borno state in Nigeria’s northeast, Christian leaders last week decried plans to demolish 25 church and Christian school buildings to make way for a government housing project.
“We have seen that eviction notice from the Borno state government – we are all Nigerians, and there are other places where the state government can develop,” the Rev. Musa Asake, national general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said at a press briefing in Abuja on Sept. 9. “The areas being earmarked for demolition are already developed with churches and schools. We have enough problems at hand, and we don’t want to add another problem. Christians have suffered enough in Borno state.”
Asake noted that Borno state, where Islamic extremist group Boko Haram and others have attacked, has much land available for housing.
“We have suffered enough in Borno state, and enough of all these things which are coming in another disguise,” he said. “The Borno state government should reconsider that decision to demolish churches and their properties, because in Borno state, there are many vast lands. They should do that instead of going to these areas where Christians have settled for so long.”
Borno officials have begun planning the forceful eviction of Christians and have sent out notices to church leaders and Christian owners of properties, Christian leaders say.
In a letter from the Borno State Ministry of Lands and Survey dated Aug. 20 and signed on behalf of the commissioner, state official Musa Ummate states that the church properties are being acquired to create room for the development of a housing estate.
“I am directed to refer to you and holders of structures on the proposed site for caption matter above and regret to inform you that the Executive Governor has on the power conferred on him by Section (2)b of the Land Use Act 1978 has directed through high powered committee on Construction Ref. no: HPCC/2500/HE/S/TEC/1 to notify you of his intention to acquire your lands and assessment/valuation of the structures on the proposed site situated along Gubio Road, Maiduguri,” the letter reads. “The acquisition is necessary in view of requirements of the land by the state government for overriding public interest to construct Housing Estate. The affected land holders of structures are to take note and appear on site for the above exercise, please.”
On the same day in Kwara state in west-central Nigeria, Christian leaders at a media briefing accused the state’s Muslim governor of discrimination in appointments.
Of 146 political offices in the state, Muslims were appointed to all but 27 occupied by Christians, said the Rev. James Folaranmi, chairman of the Kwara chapter of CAN in Ilorin. He and other Christian leaders called for the immediate rectification of anti-Christian policies in the state.
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