Church leaders in Nigeria condemned the killings of nearly 200 Christians in Plateau State as they prepared to celebrate Christmas.
According to reports, 198 Christians were killed in a series of terror attacks in 26 Christian communities. The attacks began on the night of 23 December and continued into Christmas Day. “This indeed has been a gory Christmas for us,” Plateau’s governor, Caleb Mutfwang, said, noting that the attacks were “well-coordinated” and used “heavy weapons”.
Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto called on President Bola Tinubu to take immediate action to protect people.
“You have no excuses before God or the people of Nigeria,” the bishop said, warning that “neither God nor history will forgive you if you fail”.
The bishop’s address emphasised how “Nigerians have almost lost hope” that “a government can really and truly care for them” and that “our politicians will put our interests first and find a way to deal with the cancer of corruption”.
Catholic leaders demanded government action after the attacks.
“This indeed has been a gory Christmas for us,” Plateau’s governor Caleb Mutfwang said in a Tuesday statement that noted the attacks were “well-coordinated” and used “heavy weapons”.
According to accounts by several local sources and human rights activists, 198 Christians were killed in a series of terror attacks in 26 Christian communities in Plateau. The attacks began the night of 23 December and continued into Christmas Day.
Maria Lozano, a representative for Aid to the Church in Need, told CNA that the Christmas attacks made the weekend “one of the most violent [times] in the area’s history”. She said she believes that the Fulani tribe is responsible for the attacks.
This was the latest instance of terrorists targeting Nigerian Christians on significant feast days, following the 2022 Pentecost massacre that killed 50 people.
Lozano said the attacks were the result of a combination of problems including ethnic and religious strife between the Christian farmers and nomadic Fulani herdsmen.
She pointed out that the timing of the attacks had “religious undertones”.
Lozano also said that a “lack of response from the government” over the years has worsened the situation in the region and that tangible government support has been largely absent after the Christmas massacre. This has forced churches to take on the “primary responsibility of providing assistance,” she said.
President Bola Tinubu ordered an “immediate mobilisation of relief sources” and directed the country’s security agencies to “scour every part of the zone” and “apprehend the culprits responsible for these atrocities”.
Mutfwang called on the security agencies to identify those who have been “the sponsors of these attacks” so that the government can act to “unravel all those responsible”.
“Until we cut off the supply in terms of sponsorship, we may never be able to see the end of this,” he said.