Gunmen abducted more than 100 people from the Mutunji community in Zamfara State in northwest Nigeria on the weekend for not paying a ‘tax’ imposed by the bandits. A leader in the community was also killed, according to locals.
The bandit’s leader, Damana, sent a ransom letter to the community demanding 110 million naira (about $205,000). He also threatened to abduct more people if the ransom wasn’t paid. Neighbouring communities were also sent a threatening note.
A Christian Leader from Zamfara State said the shooters targeted Christians, and that 72 members of his church were abducted. He said that dozens of attackers came on motorcycles shouting Allah Akbar [Allah is great] and abducted senior citizens from Mutunji villages and neighbouring communities.
Locals said the attacks began Friday and continued through to Monday, yet police or soldiers did not respond — despite military and police checkpoints in the village. Survivors are hiding in the bush, and police have yet to respond. Villagers cry out for the government to protect them. The village is made up of Muslims and Christians, but bandits with ties to radical factions of Islam want to eradicate Christians.
Gata Moses, a Christian rights activist in the city of Jos, accused the Zamfara government of keeping silent and being complicit in the attacks. Gata said that the gunmen were the same jihadists carrying out attacks against Christians in Borno, Maiduguri, Yobe, and Taraba. Some are Fulani militants killing Christians in Plateau, Benue, and Southern Kaduna.
Moses said Christians are persecuted for the sake of Christ, and that Nigeria’s leaders must uphold Nigeria’s constitution that supports freedom of religion.