A government worker, who spoke to ICC on the condition of anonymity, said that militants had attempted an attack on December 31, 2016, but were driven away by police and community members. The community remained concerned that another attack was impending, but were reassured by police that the situation was under control. The attack on January 7 came unexpectedly in the middle of the day.
One of the victims of the attack told ICC, “The Fulanis came into the village yesterday at about 2:00 p.m. They came upon us suddenly, chased us off, scattered us and burnt our houses. We fled. I barely escaped with my life. Only God knows where some of our people are now. We don’t know what we did to them.”
The Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Adamawa State, in a press release issued by its Chairman, Ajine Delo, berated the Adamawa State Government, saying the attack “is an indictment on the failure of the Law Enforcement Agencies and Intelligence Units who are saddled with the responsibility of maintaining peace, protecting lives and properties and gathering secret information about hostile attacks by enemies. They have failed to protect the Demsa Communities…”
The Fulani are the largest nomadic people group in the world and are known for the high level of importance they assign to their cattle. They are predominantly Muslim and often carry out attacks in Nigeria in the name of Islam. However, Nigeria has refused to recognize them as a terrorist group.
This is not the first time that communities in Demsa have come under attack by the militants. Toward the end of July 2016, Fulani militants attacked Kodomun village in Demsa local council area, killing about 25 people and displacing more than 2,000 people. The latest village that was attacked is in the same area, a region that is predominantly Christian.
Daniel Harris, Regional Manager for ICC, said, “ICC strongly condemns this attack on Christian communities in Nigeria. This is yet another example of the government’s failure to provide adequate protection for Christian communities in this region and refusal to stamp out the radical movements that cause these deadly attacks. The government’s refusal to recognize the Fulani militants as what they are, Islamic terrorists, threatens religious freedom and the lives of Christians in this region. We encourage the government of Nigeria to bring these perpetrators of violence to justice and to work harder to protect the lives of Christians in Adamawa State.”