Catholic Diocesan Entity in Nigeria Confirms Killing of Parishioners by Fulani Herdsmen

Credit: Makurdi Diocese/Facebook

Members of St. Michael’s Agasha Parish of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria are among scores of people who were killed when armed Fulani militants attacked villages in Nigeria’s Benue State on Friday, May 20.

In a Saturday, May 21 interview with ACI Africa, the Director of Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) in Makurdi Diocese said that five villagers, among them some Catholics and the council chairman of Tse Alashi-Kwenev, an outstation of Agasha Parish, died on the spot while “many others'' were injured in the May 20 incident.

In the interview, Fr. Remigius Ihyula said that the villagers were attacked while they were out working on their farms.

“I received a report that my people were attacked, killed and many injured while they were working on their farms by Fulani herdsmen. I understand the Fulanis first searched the villages and on finding them deserted, they went deep into farms where they started hacking those they came across,” Fr. Ihyula said.

Grim images and videos of victims of Fulani herdsmen in Tse Alashi-Kwenev, with some missing their limbs, were circulated on social media platforms on Friday, May 20.


In the interview with ACI Africa, the Nigerian Catholic Priest said that the killing was the latest on the list of attacks that he said have been on the rise since early February. He said that unlike past incidents, the May 20 attack happened in broad daylight.

“We have been suffering from the Fulani herdsmen for a long time now but the attacks have been going on since the beginning of February. They happen almost on a daily basis. This time, the Fulanis struck in broad daylight. Usually, they attack at night or in the early hours of the morning,” the JPC official said.

He said that most villages in Benue State and other Nigerian States in the Eastern and Southern regions experiencing attacks from Fulani herdsmen have become desolate.

“People have abandoned their homes in the villages and run to safer places in the township,” Fr. Ihyula said, and added, “Many of our local farmers have been displaced and left their farms for the herdsmen. Some have been displaced several times when the Fulanis attack them in places they have gone to seek refuge.”

Displaced people are living in constant fear and extreme poverty, he further said, and added, “Locals are abandoning their work and sources of livelihood and life is becoming very difficult for them. Most of them are now relying on aid and donations to survive.”

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Fr. Ihyula lamented that the international community has turned a blind eye on the suffering of the people of God in the West African country that is experiencing “perhaps the worst Islamic terrorism at the moment.”

“It is not that the international community doesn’t know what is happening in Nigeria. They know that the situation here is that of displacement and occupation. The perpetrators are Islamists who don’t believe in the western lifestyle. The world knows this but for some reason, they just don’t want to help,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest told ACI Africa May 21.

Attacks in Nigeria have left the populations desolate, “almost hopeless”, the JPC Director in the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi said.

“We in the justice department are tired of reporting these incidents. We feel that the world has abandoned us to die. We have cried until our tears ran dry,” he lamented.

Fr. Ihyula further bemoaned, “The Church has tried everything in her power but nothing seems to be working. Authorities are not making any arrests and this has created a hostile environment for the innocent civilians.”


He disputed allegations that Christians are a minority in Nigeria, hence their suffering. He said, “Some say that Christians are not many in Nigeria. That is not true. It is just that Christians do not yield much power. It is Muslims who are in positions of power everywhere and their aim is to have the whole country subscribe to their beliefs.”

The Catholic Priest also observed that over time, Fulani herdsmen have become deadlier than the Boko Haram who, for years, have continued to terrorize civilians in Northern Nigeria.

“The Fulanis are responsible for way more deaths than Boko Haram who are concentrated in one place. The Fulanis, on the other hand, are everywhere. They are in the villages, on peoples’ farms, on the roads, everywhere. No place is safe anymore in Nigeria,” the Director of JPC in Makurdi Diocese said during the May 21 interview.

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.