Harrowing Encounter of Nigerian Siblings Abducted by Fulani Herdsmen: Catholic Entity

Peter and Elizabeth, two siblings who survived a kidnapping by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Kaduna. Credit: ACN

Two siblings who survived a kidnapping by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Kaduna State have narrated their harrowing encounter in the hands of their abductors, with one of them being shot and left for dead.

In a Monday, March 21 report by Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) United States, Peter, who was shot in the head alongside four others, recalls that the militants fired at them to send a message to the Christians.

The boy who is still nursing serious injuries from the gunshots described his experience in captivity as horrible.

‘’It was a terrible experience! …We were tortured and beaten mercilessly and our stomachs were empty! They were heartless! Wicked! Demons in human flesh! There were about 50 well-armed Fulani men in the camp with us,” he says in the ACN United States report.

“They shot the five of us in the head at the same time,” he narrates, and adds, “Laying there, I could hear them saying, mu kai gawan su a church, saba da susani bamu wasa! (“Let’s take the dead bodies to church so that they will take us very seriously!”).”


Peter’s sister who is identified as Florence Awotoye narrates that she was attending a Church function with her two younger siblings on a Sunday in October last year when militants who she thought were Boko Haram members attacked the worshippers.

“It happened on a Sunday morning, October 31st, 2021. Peter who worships in the Catholic Church decided to worship with us that Sunday at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kauka u Daji, Chikun local government area of Kaduna state. At that time, I was at the children’s church which was not far from the main building. At about 10AM, when the service was ending, a woman came running towards the children’s church shouting and screaming!” Awotoye says in the ACN United States report.

The screams, she narrates, were followed with gunshots as the people who had been worshiping in the main Church scampered for safety at a nearby primary school.

She says that she also started running for her dear life and rushed to hide in a toilet where she locked herself.

At the time of the attack, Awotoye says Kaduna State Government shut down the state’s mobile phone network due to the numerous kidnappings that were going on in the state.

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“There was no way I could call anyone nor warn the security agency,” she says, and adds, “Looking through a crack, I saw one of the kidnappers pull up on a motorcycle. He was dressed up like Boko Haram, however, when he spoke, I realized he was a Fulani man.”

The man, Awotoye says, started firing his weapon uncontrollably and shot two people, one died on the spot.

“I was shivering as I didn’t know what would become of my two younger siblings at the main church. I quickly stopped making any sort of movement and my hands were on my mouth to prevent me from screaming,” she says.  

It was only hours later that the shooting stopped and the church members started emerging from their hideouts, Awotoye says, and adds, “I began shouting out for Peter and Elizabeth. We all soon realized that the Fulani men had taken 72 Church members, including my brother and sister. I walked out of the church like a madwoman. Still, I give God the glory for sparing my life.”

72 church members were kidnapped in the wake of the attack including Peter and her sister Elizabeth. The latter stayed in captivity longer than her brother who she thought had been shot and killed.


Awotoye says that she received news of her brother’s shooting more than a month after the kidnapping.

A woman who had been sent to deliver the news told her, “They have shot five of our boys, including Peter and dumped them in the bush, sending me to deliver this sad news.”

Three of the boys were dead, Awotoye says, adding that a fourth boy died while receiving treatment. It is only Peter who survived and is still nursing the injury.

“To the glory of God, he (Peter) survived, though he talks with difficulty and has little use of his right hand and left leg and he cannot remember some things,” Awotoye says, and adds, “However, I am so glad that he is still alive. Meanwhile, we were praying fervently for my younger sister who was still being held by the Fulani herdsmen.”

Recalling the events of the kidnapping, Peter says, “We walked for days in the dense forest, crossing rivers blindfolded. Finally, we arrived at a camp.”

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He recalls that on 7 December last year, the kidnappers brought him out together with four other young boys (Dominic, who was 15, Enoch (20), Hassan (19), Ishaku (22).

“They said kun je ku kawo mana kudi daga wurin iyayen ku! (“We will release the five of you to go get money for us from your parents!”) I felt some sort of relief that I was going home not knowing there was more to it—it was all a lie!” Peter says in the ACN United States report.

“The five of us were blindfolded and our hands were tied behind our backs. We walked for about 11 hours. One of the Fulani men shouted siya! (Stop moving!) We stopped. Masa gaba kadan! (“Move to the front a little!”) We obeyed and then they shot the five of us in the head at the same time,” he says.

“When I woke up, I found myself in a hospital, weak, barely talking, moving, nor remembering nor recognizing anything or anybody, I couldn’t feel my right hand and left leg however, with the help of the therapist and help at home, I can talk again, though not clearly, and walk, though not properly, and I am beginning to recall some things. I lost the opportunity to go to school this year. However, I am grateful to God that I am still alive,” he says.

Sharing her part of the ordeal, Elizabeth, who was kidnapped alongside her brother, Peter, says that the suffering they went through at the hands of the kidnappers “is beyond explanation.”

“Once a week we were fed boiled rice with nothing in it, not even salt. Our drinking water came from a dirty river close to the camp. We showered once a week in the same river,” she says.

Elizabeth recalls that she was devastated when he learnt that her brother had been shot.

“I saw them take my brother together with four other boys with the claim to let them go get money from our families. I was scared but happy that they would soon come to our rescue. But later that day, the kidnappers who took my brother and the other boys, returned and said mungamar the su! (“We have killed them!”)  I cried bitterly and then started preparing for my own death as I had already lost hope,” she says.

She says that the kidnappers sent their spokesperson to the church demanding 20 million Naira ($48,000) to release the victims.

“The Church said they could only afford 5 million Naira ($12,000),” she says, and adds, “At first the Fulani men refused the 5 million Naira, but later collected the 5 million, saying they should not waste time as they are rushing toward the next operation. They released 45 Church members and kept 15 of us in the camp. We would be set free only if the kidnappers would be given five new motorcycles. Otherwise, we would all be killed.”

“The Church gave 350,000 Naira ($185) for each of the families involved. We were released after the kidnappers were given the 5 motorcycles. In all, we spent one month and 13 days in captivity. I was very happy to see my brother alive. However, I am somewhat afraid of him because of his anger. I just pray that he won’t one day take up a knife and hurt someone.  Due to this terrible experience, I am afraid of almost everything. I lost trust in people,” Elizabeth says in the March 21 ACN United States report.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.