A survivor of last Sunday’s attack on Southern Kaduna communities, Rev. Denis Sani of the First Evangelical Church Winning All, Maikori, has narrated his ordeal.
Reverend Sani alongside some other community members paid a Save-Our-Soul visit to the President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Jonathan Asake at the National Secretariat of the Union to seek assistance for their starving communities and narrate the tragedy that befell their communities.
In their account, armed herdsmen invaded Adara villages in Kajuru Local Government Area on Sunday, June 5, and while residents resisted the attackers, a white helicopter came from nowhere and aided the assailants against the natives.
Sani said, “It was around noon while we were in the church that we started getting information that armed Fulani herdsmen were attacking Dangoma and some nearby villages.
“We hastily rounded up our prayers and came out,” he went on.
“We then heard that they were in large numbers and that they were heading towards Maikori. We then called out for reinforcement and all the youths came out and we laid ambush waiting for them. We evacuated our women, children and old ones into hiding.
“In no time we saw them. They were in large numbers on scores of motorcycles each carrying three turban herdsmen who all had AK 47 rifles.”
According to Rev Sani, when the herdsmen were getting close to them, they tried defending their communities by firing dane guns at the invaders.
“Upon hearing our gunshots the leaders of the armed herdsmen raised his left hand and came to an abrupt halt. The rest also stopped,” he said.
He said that they dismounted from the bikes and started firing back, but the villagers got the upper hand and the assailants started retreating.
“From nowhere, we saw a helicopter coming over towards Maikori, and we were happy that help had come,” he said.
However, he said the villagers were shocked to discover that the helicopter started firing in their direction, even when the motorcycles of the assailants, their positions and mode of dressing, marked them out clearly.
“I saw my people running for dear lives and some were falling. I also ran. It was not possible to face the armed Fulani and the bullets from the helicopter, so we ran for our lives,” he said.
He narrated further that upon escaping, the herdsmen entered Maikori and started burning homes.
“As they were burning houses, the helicopter was hovering over the village to defend them from our returning. They took three good hours burning every structure in Maikori, except three or four houses that do not have any valuables.
“My church, 1st ECWA Church Maikori, was burnt to ashes. My house and everything I ever worked for went with the flames. I only came out with what I am now wearing.
“As of now, I cannot tell you exactly how many people were killed from that attack, because we are still picking corpses in the bushes. But 32 persons have been killed and buried. Other villages that were attacked earlier that day by the same killers are Sabon Gida, Unguwan Sarki and Dogon Noma.”
According to him, the ECWA church in Dogon Noma was also burnt with some other houses.
“The helicopter did not hide its intention that it came to kill us and to help the armed Fulani to achieve what they wanted to do. We are therefore here to beg for any form of assistance, especially food and clothing. And we want you to help us inform the world what has happened to us,” he said while presenting a bullet he claimed came from the gunshot from the helicopter.
Corroborating the Reverend’s claim, Johna Chris, the youth leader of Maikori village said, “When we started shooting at the bandits with our dane guns, they seemed to be taken by surprise that there was some form of resistance. Even when they were firing back at us, we noticed that they were going backwards. We were ready to defend our village with the last drop of our blood and we had the upper hand against those devils.
“Then this white painted helicopter came from the sky. Instead of attacking the criminals, it is us that it started shooting at. The bullets were coming from the bottom of the helicopter straight at us. At first, I thought it was a mistake, but it circled back, saw the position of the enemy, left them alone and started raining bullets at us and into our village. When I saw people running and falling, I also ran into the bush.
“The Fulani then came into the village and started burning houses and everything, especially foodstuff. The Helicopter was probably hired by the armed herdsmen because it assisted them to do what they wanted.”
He pointed at one Shedrack Joshua, who narrowly survived the attack.
Joshua is an 18-year-old farmer who had dropped out of secondary school.
“This boy is one lucky person who survived from the helicopter bullets,” he said, as Joshua dropped his trousers to reveal a wound he said was caused by the bullet from the helicopter that grazed passed just below his left knee.”
Also narrating her ordeal, a 20-year-old student of Government Day Secondary School, Jabi, Rifkatu James said she had come home on a short visit and was caught in the attack.
“We finished church service in a hurry because people were saying that Fulani were on their way to come and attack us in Maikori. We took the children, our mothers and old people into the bush to go and hide,” she said.
“Our men started to shoot at the Fulani who were coming on hundreds of motorcycles to attack us. And they also started shooting our people.
“I think we were winning because the Fulani were trying to run away. Then I saw a helicopter coming from behind us. It then started shooting our men. I saw them running, some were falling. I also ran very fast into the bush with others. The Fulani chased us and came into Maikori.
“They started burning houses. They burnt our village and were inside there for hours.
“The helicopter was on their side. I was very terrified.”
Reacting, the President of SOKAPU, Hon. Jonathan Asake said he was saddened by the development, especially by the denial of the Kaduna state government that the said helicopter actually came and dislodged the terrorists and never harmed the villagers.
“Our people have always said of a certain helicopter that brings in supplies for armed Fulani militia in their hiding places for many years. Nobody in the government bothers to find out if that was true or not.
“Today the helicopter has upgraded its services to killing for the bandits. Yet the Kaduna state government, without carrying out any investigation concluded that no such evil took place. The Nigeria Air Force must come clean of this.”
Asake said the same government admitted in May 2020 that an Air force helicopter bombed Assembly of God Church, and some homes in Kabrasha village in Chikun local government area in Southern Kaduna, claiming that it was chasing bandits.
“Though Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state promised that he was going to rebuild the church and homes, he not only failed to do that, not a single measure of grain was taken to the displaced community as assistance till date.
“Again, this same Dogon Noma that is among the communities attacked last Sunday, it was violently violated by the same armed Fulani militia in March 2019 and 77 persons, mostly women and children killed and the town razed.
“Government did nothing to assist. Now that same community had managed to rebuild and return, it has been put to ruins again and many killed and nothing is being done,” he lamented.
“As for us in SOKAPU, we can only shout out to the world for assistance as we are not a government. Fortunately, last month, Governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers state made donations for the IDPs in Kaduna state. We have made purchases which we have been sharing out to our IDPS across all the affected areas in Southern Kaduna. And that’s part of what we shall give you and your people today,” he said.
The Vice-President of SOKAPU said it was clear that both the Federal Government and Kaduna State government has abandoned Adara and other besieged Southern Kaduna communities to their fate.
“It is a shame that government cannot protect lives and properties of its citizens, but would lie against victims and give them zero support after such heinous crimes against them by pampered terrorists,” he charged.
He called on the international community and good-spirited individuals to assist Adara land and put pressure of the government to produce the crew of the helicopter that carried out the attack on June 5, 2022 in Adara land.