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10/25/2021 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – It had been raining heavily for over 24 hours in Maiyanga village, a small community located in Central Nigeria’s Irigwe chiefdom. But two hours before the attack the rain stopped.

“The river was filled with so much water,” a source, preferring anonymity, told ICC. “Anyone who attempted to cross would be taken away.”

So, when the Fulani militants came at 4am that morning, there was no way out.

“We ran and hid ourselves by the riverside,” the source continued. “But the ground was wet enough to leave our footprint behind, and we could be easily traced.”

One set of muddy footprints led the gunmen to Hannatu Yakubu, who was hiding in a hold by the river, holding her three-month-old daughter, Ruth.

“I heard the gunmen negotiating with Hannatu,” said the source. “Because she could not reveal the whereabout of men as they demanded, the decided to kill her. But she pleaded with them to spare her daughter, Ruth.”

According to the source, the men agreed to let Ruth live in that moment but they promised Hannatu that Ruth would eventually die of hunger.

“They reached out and picked up Ruth from her mother and threw her away by the side. After that, they shot her mother without dela, leaving Ruth at the mercy of God in the cold weather.”

Five of Ruth’s family members were killed that day, August 2nd, along with 65 others in a series of brutal Fulani militia attacks that destroyed nine villages in Irigwe chiefdom, Plateau State, Nigeria.

“28 communities in Irigwe chiefdom have been displaced,” said Mr. Ezekiel Bini, president of the Irigwe Youth Movement. “The Kpachudu Pkate-nvie communities were attacked by 200 well-armed Fulani militants for five consecutive day uninterrupted. Government vehicles were seen taking looted items.”

Bini gave a worrisome assessment of the impact of Christian persecution in the land. “Between January 2021 to Jun 2021, 57 innocent women, men and children were killed mercilessly. 19 were injured, many of which resulted in the loss of human parts. 442 houses were razed, and 242 farms were destroyed.”

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)  issued a report in April recommending that the Department of State designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its severe violations of religious freedom.

USCIRF made the same recommendation in last year’s report, which State did follow in a December 2, 2020 announcement that condemned Nigeria for “having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” However, the designation was largely undermined by a waiver of the sanctions that normally would have accompanied the CPC designation.

Earlier this month, an ICC representative presented a gift to Ruth, the youngest survivor of the August 2nd attack. The gift included essential supplies so that her caretakers could sustain her. The occasion was characterized by prayers and appreciation to God, as Mr. Moses Gata led over 100 displaced persons in a prayer for baby Ruth.

“We will not forget this kind of love, from another country, to baby Ruth.”

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected]. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]