Kufara massacre: How Fulani herdsmen killed my pastor hubby...

Kufara massacre: How Fulani herdsmen killed my pastor hubby
Wife, 37, narrates moving story of a reprisal attack
The definition of an iron lady may be a woman who in the wee- hour practically saw death taking her husband away, but stood her ground that her husband’s life should be spared, even as her own life too was in danger.

 This was exactly what Mrs. Judith Innocent did, when assailants came calling. Narrating her ordeal to Daily Sun in Kaduna, the mother of two kids, Judith, 37, wife of Pastor Innocent Chukwuemeka Mari who was killed by Fulani herdsmen on February 16 in the remote village of Kufara, Chikun Local Government, Kaduna State, said it was a terrible experience:

 “We were sleeping, and all of a sudden were woken up by gunshots. We thought that it were hunters in the village that were doing the shooting because that is how hunters in the area operate. It was three times gunshot, the first one woke us up, and we decided to ignore it, believing that they were hunters.

 “We slept over again, and woke up when heard it the second time. We stood up, but we did not hear any noise again. The third gunshot was close to our church. We stood up and were hearing the breaking of glasses inside the church because our house shares same fence with the church. At this point, my husband wanted to open the door, but I stopped him. I told him that it was dangerous to go out. He peeped through the door and saw the people, he said they are Fulani.

 “The two of us stood by the door, and we saw them breaking the church, after which they set it on fire. They then surrounded our house shouting. When they discovered that we were in the house, they started breaking the door using knives. We held on to the door. They were shouting in Hausa language, that we should open the door. I was shouting, thinking that people in the village would come to our help. We never knew that they had run away without alerting us of the Fulani attack.

 “When the gunmen could not open the door, they went to the window, and I also rushed to the window, while my husband held the door. I continued to shout as they were breaking the window. It is a mud house with the door and window made of zinc. When they finally destroyed the window, they saw me and discovered that I am a woman. Since they have punctured the door, they peeped through and saw my husband, and shot him through the door. He shouted and fell down, saying oh!
 “They pushed the door and came into the house. I fell on the bed myself with my two children crying. They used their sticks to hit me and as they were hitting me, one of my fingers got injured. They continued to hit me, but one of them asked them to leave me alone. They now spoke in Hausa to me, ‘ba mu kudi’ (give us money). I told them there was no money, but they insisted that I must give them money.

 “I gave them the only N300 on me. They collected my handset and a small radio set. They went ahead to scatter my box and poured water in it. They also opened my pot, the rice and stew I cooked; they poured it on the ground and threw the pot of rice outside. “They asked me if my husband had big or small gun, and I told them he is a pastor, he doesn’t keep such weapons. One of them raised his gun to hit me with it, but another one intervened that he should leave me. At this point they left, but my husband was lying in the pool of his own blood. These gunmen were more than 25. They came into the village around 1 a.m on March 16, 2012.

 “When they left, my husband was writhing in pains and screaming. I whispered to him that he should keep quiet so that they will not think that he is still alive and come back to finish him. I ran out and monitored their movement, I saw that they had gone far. I ran to the nearest house to call people, their door was opened, but nobody was inside. I also ran to the house of the village head, the door was opened, and nobody was inside.

 “At this point I became weak, and realized that these people knew that the gunmen were coming and they did not tell us. All of them escaped. Where this incident started was far from our village, but by the time they entered our village, they killed the man they met by the first house. So other villagers escaped. Our house is at the last part of the village, and it was through the road by our house that other villagers escaped without telling us what was happening. The name of our own village is Kufara, but the attack started from the nearby village called Dayi.

 “They attacked three villages, but I do not know the name of the third village. We have been staying in Kufara village for the past two years. The name of our church is Assemblies of God Church. The attackers gathered church instruments, the band including a generator set. It was the fuel inside the generator that they used in setting the church and instrument ablaze.
 “These Fulani people were living around the village. During the post election riots, they all ran away, some of them went to a village called Sarki Pawa. I was even asking my husband that time that these Fulani people, where are they, I am no longer seeing them.

 “But there are still some of them in Dayi village. On Tuesday of the week they attacked us, I saw a big trailer packing a lot of loads. I asked one boy standing there that who are these people packing. He said they are Fulani, that they are packing away. I later told my husband that I saw Fulani people packing away. I said I suspected this their packing because something must be happening or about to happen for them to pack away like this. My husband said that is their business. So they packed that Tuesday, and by Thursday night/Friday morning, the attack took place.

 “It is terrible missing my husband. When it dawned on me that there was nobody around to help me, I summoned courage and closed his eyes and the mouth because he was already dead. He shouted intermittently because of the pains from the gunshot and gave up the ghost. The last word he spoke was that these are Fulani destroying our church. By the time they came to break our door, he pleaded with them to spare us, but to no avail.“We got married about three years ago and we have two children who are still between two and one year old. I will miss my husband in all aspects of life; he was so dear to me. We have not started life yet, it is like we were just beginning to start life when they killed him.

 “I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Kaduna State Government to beef up security in all villages because these Fulani people are all over the places, and they are ready to strike any time.“Another problem in that village is that there is no mobile phone network services, no water, no light. My husband was to go to Kaduna that Friday to make call with his GSM phone and buy some goods for the church project. Government should also ensure that there is communication in the rural areas, so that if incident of this nature happens, security men could easily be contacted. Had been there was phone service, we would have called the police immediately.

 “My husband was a full time pastor, he was not doing any other work, and as a pastor’s wife I do assist him in the church. I take care of the women and other things in the church. The following day of the incident, some of the church members followed us to Kaduna. The village is very far from Kaduna, almost three hours drive from the city.
 “It was Operation Yaki, our section leaders and press men who arranged vehicles that conveyed us to Kaduna. The Operation Yaki vehicle carried my husband’s corpse to Saint Gerald Catholic Hospital, Kaduna.

 “Sympathizers were even asking me what made us to go and settle in such a remote village. I told them that it is the work of God that we are doing that made us to settle there, if not how could we have gone there to settle. I am from Imo State, and my husband is from Borno State. My husband’s mother is from Abia State, and his father is a practicing Muslim, his name is Mari Buba. I am 37 years of age, my last child is just a year old.”

 Mari Buba said: “I have nothing to say again, my son is gone forever. What had happened has happened. The killers have done their worst. If my son had died because of bad thing, I would have been worried, but my joy is that he was killed, doing God’s work. I pray to God to forgive him his sins and grant him eternal rest.

 “I remain a Muslim since I was born, I never forced my children to become Muslim. I never stopped them to practice the religion they want to practice. God knows everybody’s heart, and it is only God that allows one to be what he or she wants to be. “My wife is a Christian and we have been living together happily. I never forced her to join me in the Mosque. She goes to her Church, I go to my Mosque. We have no religious problem in the family.”

 In a press briefing, 48 hours after the incident, the new Commissioner of Police, Mohammed J Abubakar, identified the gunmen as Fulani herdsmen. But the police gave the names of the attacked villages as Nayida Talakkwacha, all of them in Chikun LG, saying the areas lacked access to mobile phone service, which made communication impossible for the police.
 “The attack appeared to be a reprisal by relations of Fulani herdsmen who were victims of the post general election crisis in April, 2011 in Kaduna State, who were said to have lost their lives, cows and motorcycles,” Abubakar said.
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