Tens of thousands of people have been killed over the past decade in Nigeria's sectarian conflict and more than three million are currently displaced. The stories of some of the survivors of Boko Haram and Fulani attacks in the northeast and Middle Belt are told in this section.
In February and March 2021 Fulani herdsmen attacked the villages of Kurmin Gandu, Kizachi Kadanya and Kizachi Dawai in Kaduna State, burning down dozens of homes and killing at least 18 people. Through its partner, the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, CSI has provided emergency assistance to the victims, some of whom tell their story below.
"I am 45 years old and married with four children. My occupation is mainly subsistence farming. We were in our house in Kurmin Gandu at 8pm on 28 February when suddenly we heard gun shots. Since we could not defend ourselves we decided to seek safety in the bush that night. Luckily none of us in the family was hurt but the entire house was burnt. All the crops we had harvested were destroyed. We were living happily before but now we are living in fear and looking to others for our survival as we don’t have food or shelter."
Update, Nov 2021: Through the support of relations the family are living in a three-bed apartment. The four children are back at school. Hannatu and her husband are again earning a living as farmers.
"I am 47 years old, married with five children and an indigene of Kizachi Dawai. My main occupation is farming and we lived a comfortable life until we were attacked by the Fulani herdsmen on 18 March. The attack claimed the life of my wife and two of my children. My house was also set on fire and my belongings including food were burnt to ashes. We no longer feel safe in our ancestral land. We are praying to God that he will one day bring this violence to an end."
Update, Nov 2021: Life is still very hard but he has managed to cultivate some crops allowing him to feed his children as well as pay their school fees.
"I am 64 years old and Chawai by tribe. I am married with seven children. Our village Kizachi Kadanya came under attack by Fulani herdsmen on 18 March 2021 at about 10pm when most people had gone to bed. They came in large numbers shooting and chanting 'Allahu akbar'. People started wailing and running for their lives. We too started running towards the bush but in the process one of my children was shot and he died on the spot. My house was set ablaze and completely burnt down."
Update Nov 2021: He has managed to re-roof his house but has had to borrow money to pay his children's school fees. Their village is still under threat from the herdsmen.
Dozens of people died, hundreds were injured and thousands displaced in attacks by Fulani herdsmen on ten villages in southern Kaduna State in July and August 2020. Further attacks took place later in the year. The victims received emergency aid from CSI.
The 42-year-old farmer from Ungwa Magaji was shot and left for dead during an attack on 21 November 2020. John underwent surgery to remove two bullets from his buttocks. Subsequently he was faced with a huge bill that his family could not pay. "I’m happy that I have received assistance to pay my medical bills," says John. "I am getting better and will continue with farming if I become stronger."
Na’omi Isaac from Ungwa Magaji, who is married with three children, was injured when her village was invaded on the evening of 14 August. She was shot on the leg and had to undergo surgery. Na’omi’s family were already living from hand to mouth before the attack. “Our main occupation is farming but we may venture into business, like starting up a provisions store where I can sell items that can add to our income," she says. "But I thank God that I am better now and I look forward to a better future.”
When the Fulani herdsmen attacked the village of Zikpak on 24 July, 4-year-old Joel and his mother were asleep. Awaking to the sound of guns and wailing, they left their house and headed for the next village. Sadly, Joel was hit by bullets on his lower jaw and left shoulder. The young boy underwent surgery and is now making a speedy recovery. His mother hopes he will soon be able to return to school.
Plateau State in Nigeria's Middle Belt is seeing an increase in attacks by Fulani herdsmen. Through its partner organisation, the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims (ECCVN), CSI seeks to relieve the suffering of the victims.
Victor, aged 20
Victor comes from the village of Vatt, where he lives with his mother – a widow – and three younger siblings. After graduating from high school, Victor’s goal was to go to university and then get a good job. But on 25 October 2020 everything changed when Islamist militants attacked him and left him for dead. Victor had to spend two months in hospital after his leg was amputed. CSI covered Victor’s hospital bills.
Rose, aged 25
On 7 April 2020 Fulani militants attacked the village of Ngbrazongo in Bassa Local Government Area, killing four people including a teenager and the village pastor. "I'm in shock over the killing of innocent people, including my husband who has left me pregnant with two little children to fend for," lamented the pastor's widow, Rose Matthew. Rose and her children found refuge with her parents-in-law, but In a further tragic twist, were left homeless again after the Fulani attacked their village too. CSI is providing assistance to Rose and her family.
Mathew, aged 37
Mathew is from Nding village, Barkin Ladi local government area. He is a farmer and has a wife and baby son. On 8 September 2019 Mathew and nine other young men went to help victims of a Fulani attack on the Christian village of Fanloh. As they were returning at night herdsmen ambushed their car and opened fire. Two of the car's occupants were killed, three escaped, and five, including Mathew, were injured. CSI helped with Mathew's medical bill.
At the end of June 2018, more than 200 people were killed in Fulani attacks on 18 villages. CSI staff were on the scene shortly after the attacks in the region of Jos and collected survivors’ stories.
"The Fulani started to attack us - they started shooting, burning our houses, burning people in their homes, killing people... I saw them with their guns, shooting at us. Me and some of my friends hid in the bush. I prayed for God to save us. I saw them following people and removing people's heads with machetes and axes. They killed about 34 people in my village. One of my best friends was killed. They burned him in his house. He was 15 years old."
"On Saturday 23 June 2018, we were in the room when we heard gunshots in our village. I hid my children under the mattress and my wife and I hid above the ceiling. The Fulani people broke our door and came in. My wife said, ‘our lives are over’. About five Fulani men entered our room, two with guns and three with sticks. They dragged us outside and struck us with machetes. We were taken to a healthcare centre where our wounds were stitched without any medication. We forgive the people who carried out the attacks against us and just want to return to our homes."
In Maiduguri in Borno, the northeastern state at the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency, CSI is helping displaced individuals and families rebuild their lives:
Victoria, aged 43
Victoria and her family were driven from their home in February 2017 when Boko Haram terrorists struck their village in Michika, Adamawa State. Her eldest son was killed in the attack. The family found refuge in the house of a relative in Maiduguri but a few months later Victoria’s husband died, leaving her to fend for the family. To make matters worse, Victoria was involved in a horrific car crash that put her in a coma for two months and left her with multiple fractures. She was partially paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. In May 2020 Victoria underwent surgery on her leg, funded by CSI, and is recovering at home.
Rebecca, aged 30
Rebecca, a farmer, lived her with her pharmacist husband, Raymond, in the village of Guluk, Adamawa State. Life was good. Muslims and Christians lived together in peace until 30 April 2019 when Boko Haram arrived in military vehicles and attacked, killing 21 people including Raymond. Their house and shop were burnt down. Rebecca was left with no home and nowhere to go. She fled to Maiduguri where she found refuge in the CSI supported Catholic secretarial camp. Rebecca hopes to start a small business to support herself in Maiduguri.
Monice, aged 49, and Joel, aged 12
Monice lived with her family near Maiduguri. In 2011 Boko Haram attacked the city and set fire to the bakery where her husband, Michike, was working. Michike was burned alive. Monice and her three children were taken in by the Catholic
secretarial camp in Maiduguri. In December 2018 her 12 year-old son, Joel, developed kidney problems and was in terrible pain. In early November 2019 Joel underwent vital surgery funded by CSI and is now on the road to recovery.
Rebecca, aged 30
Boko Haram attacked Rebecca's village in 2016, capturing her and killing one of her sons. She was eventually freed and returned home pregnant by a Boko Haram fighter. Despite struggling with the situation, Rebecca and her husband, Bitrus, have renewed their marriage vows and hope to expand the small store they set up with support from CSI.
CSI is active in seven states in Nigeria. Working in collaboration with reliable partners on the ground, it seeks to provide medical assistance to victims of terrorist attacks, financial support to displaced persons, care for orphaned and marginalised children, and access to food and water for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
To support CSI’s work in Nigeria, visit the Donate section.