September 26, 2021

Herdsmen kill Pastor in Plateau; “I want them to be saved” says pregnant wife

Pastor Matthew Tagwai (with daughter), before killed by herdsmen

Ngbra-Zongo, a small hamlet of less than 500 people, is less than 10miles away from the 3rd Divisional Army Headquarters, Jos, which has two armored Brigades in the Northeast and 33 artillery brigades in Central and Southern Nigeria.

The village and all its surrounding communities however has no active military base, despite threats from armed Fulani herdsmen that have persisted for over a decade.

On Wednesday evening, the terrorists, armed with AK47 rifles, daggers and machetes, marched into the village in a group of about 10, shooting everyone in sight, it was gathered.

Mr. Abbah Yoki, 45, was their first victim when he went for a pee in his backyard. “I saw people coming from the riverside along a narrow path that passes by my house, but because it was getting dark, I could not notice the weapons,” said Mr. Yoki.

A rapid gunfire trailed him as he scampered for safety, when he raised his voice asking who the incoming people were.

“They shot me in the leg before I could escape. I however crawled and hid myself while they proceeded into the village, speaking Fulfulde language,” he said.

Abbah Yoki, shot by herdsmen
Abbah Yoki

Yoki heard more gunshots from his hideout but could not move because of his bleeding wound. He however came to realize that two of his sons – Duh Abba, 30, and Ishaku Abba, 10 were equally killed few meters away from where he was. His next door neighbor, Dih Sunday, 21, was equally killed.

A newly posted Pastor of Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, Ngbra-Zongo, Matthew Tagwai was also killed by his house. He had just reported, and had yet to move in with his family. He and his now seven months pregnant wife, Roseline, had just graduated from the seminary.

“He was young but passionate about the gospel. We both discussed and agreed to commit to saving lives because we realized how fast sin is spreading, and death, ravaging, sending people to hell,” said Roseline, 27 said.

Two of them had gone to see the new station, but she returned a day earlier to their home village, Loh, located 10 miles away, which has also had several threats in recent months.

She had prepared to join him with their two kids – Joy and Esther in few days when she heard of the atrack. “It came as a rude shock,” she said, but never a discouragement in serving God.

Roseline Matthew

“I am not giving up. I must fulfill the dream of my husband and I, to carry out God’s mission, no matter the challenges,” said Roseline.

The assailants shot Pastor Matthew in the leg and battered his head with a machete, but Roseline still wants them to find salvation.

In her words, “If I could see them right now, or if they will find this recording, I just want them to be saved. I have forgiven and forgotten what they did. I know my husband is with Jesus, but they that did it would face eternal torment if they die without repenting, and that will not give me joy because God called me to show they way to people like them.”

The attack in Ngbra-Zongo village of Kwall District in Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau State was the third in one week.

On 31st March 2020, three people including a pregnant woman were killed in Ncha village, located 5miles away from Ngbra-Zongo village. The next day, three others were killed in neighbouring Nkiedow-hro village and seven in Hukke village.

In Nkiedow-rho, the attackers razed two Churches – Baptist and ECWA. They also torched an only school in the village. In same school, 29 people, seeking military cover from armed invaders were killed in September 2017.

Mourning villagers in Nkiedowrho

In Ncha village where 25 people were also killed in September 2017, several houses were razed in the latest attack. Same destructions were done in Hukke and Kyle Borough villages all within Kwall District.

The attacks in Bassa LGA are nearly a daily occurrence, said a Journalist who hails from the locality, Ivy Gulu. “Everyday, you either hear of ambushes or village invasions, some successful and some deadly,” he said.

Authorities have however insisted that peace had returned to the State. This perhaps accounts for the withdrawal of peacekeeping troops from the area, a move believed to have created room for the renewed attacks.

A meeting organized by military authorities in the District Headquarters, Jebu Meyango on Thursday however failed. The newly deployed Commander of the Special military Task Force in the State, Maj. Gen. C.C. Okonkwo had summoned the village officials and proposed to invite leaders of the Fulani group, but was resisted.

It is however unsure if the withdrawn troops will be restored.