The monarch of the Christian-majority Atyap Chiefdom in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, Dominic Yahaya, has revealed that 245 people have been killed and 623 houses razed by suspected Fulani Islamist militants in recent years.
Yahaya, who holds the traditional title Agwatyap of the chiefdom in the Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State, said that almost all the villages within his domain had experienced assaults since 2020.
He explained the terror outbreak began in early 2019 when the first of 14 farmers was killed in separate attacks in the chiefdom.
“This snowballed into a major crisis on 16 June 2020,” Yahaya told a conference in Kaduna commemorating International Peace Day on 21 September 2022.
“Thereafter massive attacks have occurred in villages whereby people were killed and houses and properties were burned.”
The attacks by Fulani militants happened “in the dead of the night and left many communities desolate”, he added.
A Barnabas contact told us that the majority – an estimated 84% – of the Atyap people are Christian. A minority follow a traditional religion.
In August 2021 the President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Jonathan Asake, spoke out after a series of attacks on Atyap communities in Zangon Kataf LGA in which at least 28 were killed.
He warned that suspected Fulani militants were planning the “systematic extermination” of “nationalities” in Nigeria’s Middle Belt and the takeover of their ancestral lands.