Survivors reported that seven people were killed as gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen attacked small villages in Miango, Irigwe chiefdom in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. Several persons were also injured in the assault in which 275 buildings were burned down by the invaders in a predominantly Christian area between 7 pm on Saturday 31 July and the early hours of Sunday 1 August.
A spokesman for the state police said only four persons were killed, and 50 houses were razed. However, Lawrence Zongo, National Publicity Secretary of the Irigwe Youth Movement (IYM), contested the numbers supplied by the police.
“The Nigerian government has betrayed us for so long, they leave us at the mercy of gunmen because of our faith,” he claimed. “A whole village was razed; we counted the houses one after the other.”
Pastor Adamu Musa, who survived the attack, said he was a victim of a gunshot from a Fulani militia. The pastor called on Christians to respond by uniting in prayer, saying, “My advice to Christians in Nigeria is that we should know the world has reached the point that Christians are being hunted and killed because they say we are infidels, we should unite and call on God. He will answer us.”
Nearly two-thirds of the small Irigwe (also called Rigwe) population of Nigeria practise traditional African religions, though an estimated 28% are Christian.
On 1 June the Irigwe Development Association and IYM issued a press release commenting on what they called the “genocide” of the Irigwe people at the hands of Fulani extremists. The statement listed names and ages of over 40 Irigwe people killed by Fulani militants in the first five months of 2021, with precise dates and times of each incident.
In appealing to the international community for provision of humanitarian assistance, the two organisations urged the Irigwe people to continue to be a law-abiding people and explore avenues for building peace.