When a marked security car passed a Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade group marching in the Easter parade in Gombe city no one thought much about it as the driver briefly drew alongside the young people and seemed to call out a few words to them.
Then suddenly the car turned and sped back towards the boys and girls as they marched, cruelly ploughing into them from behind. Just moments before the tragedy unfolded, they had been joyfully marching in celebration of their Saviour’s resurrection.
Heart-breaking loss of promising young lives
Six boys and three girls, aged between eleven and 21, died instantly and 13 in total were reported to have perished in the heart-breaking incident, which our contact described as “not accidental”.
The youngest victim, Polina, a primary schoolgirl, was just eleven years old. And Joseph, the oldest to die that evening, was a promising student at a technical college in Barunde before his life was cut short at 21.
Women and children slaughtered, Christian communities destroyed
In February, hundreds of Fulani gunmen engulfed the Christian village of Karamai, Kaduna State, at dawn. They chanted "Allahu Akbar!” as they murdered, maimed with machetes and raped. Mainly women and children died in the callous onslaught. The death toll mounted to over 300 by early April as similar attacks continued across the state.
Displaced families urgently need homes repaired before rains arrive
As they murder, the raiders also destroy. Barnabas has already repaired nine houses in the tin-mining village of Gana Ropp. But another 33 homes still need to be repaired of the 42 burnt out in a vicious attack that took 50 lives in the small community.
Among the dead, were the village pastor, his wife and two grandchildren, burnt to death in their home.
Community leaders and families are determined to return and re-occupy their village to avoid Fulani militants claiming it for themselves. The coming rains will also cause even more damage to the clay-walled buildings if they are not at least re-roofed soon.
Traumatised victims need help to recover
Survivors have witnessed terrible scenes of violence, been injured or fled for their lives. Many children have been orphaned or separated from a surviving parent in the chaos of displacement.
Barnabas is supporting a series of trauma-healing programmes for victims, including widows. They not only bring peace and emotional healing but also help participants to forgive their attackers. The programmes train up new counselling leaders who, in turn, can lead small groups to help other survivors in their communities.
How will you help our Nigerian brothers and sisters?
£15 ($18; €17) will provide a place on a trauma-healing programme for one survivor
£33 ($40; €36) will cover the costs of supporting a Christian orphan survivor for one month
£600 ($730; €660) will help provide urgent essential repairs to a home in Gana Ropp village including new roof and windows
£16,000 ($19,500; €17,500) will keep an orphans’ ministry running for a year, including feeding, clothing and schooling for 40 children