7-year-old Jeremiah (pseudonym), recalled how gunshots woke him and his family around midnight on May 3 in Gwanje village, 18 kilometers from Akwanga in Nasarawa state. His account of the attack gives a glimpse into how hundreds of families have been terrorized by herdsmen. Narrating the horrible experience to Morning Star, a United States news media, he said a neighbor rushed over to tell his father that he had received a call, that herdsmen were attacking from the south and coming towards their home north of the village.
“My father told his younger brother, Istifanus Arewa, to take the family into hiding in a forest 200 meters away. As We fled with my uncle, mother and grandmother, the herdsmen began to shoot at us.
“My uncle pulled me down and asked my mother and grandmother to also lie down on the ground in order to avoid the bullets that were being shot at us.
“As we lay there on the ground, one of the herdsmen came to where we were and pointed his gun at my uncle. When the herdsman was about to shoot, my uncle jumped up and grabbed him, and they began to wrestle each other,” he explained.
Jeremiah said he remembered crying and calling for help, even as his uncle Arewa shouted at them to run.
“My mother and grandmother ran away while I stood there crying and calling for help. But as this was going on, another Fulani man shot me, and the bullet hit me on the upper side of my right shoulder. I fell down and crawled under a thick shrub.”
According to him, he watched as his uncle and the other Fulani wrestled. The herdsmen who shot Jerome then turned and shot at his uncle, who was holding tightly to the other Fulani.
“The shooting brought the two of them down, and after sensing that he killed both my uncle and the other Fulani, the Fulani man ran away.”
“I ran back to the village and saw an open door to a room in another house, were I entered and hid. I was in there until my parents and other people found me in that room the following morning.
My brother died trying to save his relatives, said Jeremiah’s father, whose identity is withheld for security reasons.
“My younger brother, in order to protect the little boy, my wife and mother, braved it to wrestle with the armed man.
“The shot that killed my brother instantly also killed the other armed man.
“This singular act by my brother, who fought with his bare hands against the herdsmenF, forced the herdsmen to retreat.
“If this bravery and heroic act by my younger brother had not happened, the herdsmen would no doubt have killed us all and burned down our homes,” he narrated.
Arewa was a member of the Men’s Missionary Union of the Bishara Baptist Church in Gwanje, he said.
At about 5 a.m. the next day, May 4, family members returned to the village from the forest and found the corpses of Arewa and the Fulani, said Jeremiah’s father, a lay leader in the Baptist church.
“My little son, who throughout the night of the attack was missing, was found by us in a room where he ran into and hid himself. He took us to the spot they were shot at, and we found the corpses.
Also wounded that night, is 29-year-old member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Gwanje, Moses Ayuba, who received treatment for serious injuries at the Federal Medical Center, Keffi, in Nasarawa, relatives said.
In the southern end of Gwanje village, Ayuba was shot in his hand and waist, his father, Ayuba Para, 65, also narrated.
Para stated that his son went out after hearing the sound of gunshots, thinking they came from police who usually patrol the area. Unfortunately on this night, the policemen were not around
“My son ran into the herdsmen who were invading the village, and they shot him.
When I heard him crying, I ran out to the spot only for the herdsmen to shoot at me. I narrowly escaped being killed as I ran into the bush behind my house.”
After shooting Ayuba, the herdsmen left, he said.
The herdsmen attack on Gwanje village was the second in two weeks on resident communities in Akwanga.