On the Suspected Herdsmen Attack on Bayo Famonure and His Family

By: Deji Yesufu

The Mission Field at Gana Ropp
The Famonure mission home

At 7:45pm on Tuesday, 3rd May, 2020, gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, invaded the home of Rev. Bayo Famonure. Bayo Famonure is a seventy-year old pioneer missionary with CAPRO international ministries in Gana Ropp, a community on the outskirts of Jos, Plateau State. Uncle Bayo, as he is popularly called, had just completed the evening devotion with his wife and two sons and they all retired to their rooms. Bayo Famonure was in his study reading the Bible when armed men, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, broke into his home and headed straight for him. In an obvious assassination attempt, eight men entered Uncle Bayo’s study brandishing AK47 machine guns. They drew him out of the chair to the center of the room. After demanding the whereabouts of other people in the house and getting no meaningful response from him, the attackers opened fire on Uncle Bayo. He was shot in the head at close range (within five meters). Believing he was dead, the gunmen went to the other rooms in the house. They found A’dua, one of Uncle Bayo’s sons, and were about to abduct him when his mother (Uncle’s wife) and his brother resisted them. In the process the gunmen shot the woman in the back and the two boys in the leg. In the frenzy that followed and realizing that the sounds of their guns would have attracted security men and neighbors around, the gunmen fled the home of this missionary couple.

Bayo Famonure on the hospital bed
Blood in the missionary’s study

Bayo Famonure is a man I know very well. He is family—the elder brother of my wife’s mother. As a man of God, he has all these years offered spiritual oversight to his family and even the extended family. He is a man that is much beloved and respected in the family.

Beyond family life, Uncle Bayo was a pioneer missionary with CAPRO Nigeria. Following his bachelor’s degree and having gone to serve in Zaria in Kaduna State in the early 1970s, Uncle Bayo had abandoned secular work and headed into the dirty waters of mission works. He did not choose the cozy environment of Lagos or Ibadan or Port Harcourt; rather he went to the hostile communities of Zaria to serve Jesus Christ. And he has been at this since then, moving to Gana Ropp in the Jos area sometimes in the 1990s to serve the Lord.

One of the Famonure sons
Blood in the kitchen

Uncle Bayo’s vision in ministry had been primarily to serve Jesus Christ by sharing the gospel with his host community. A missionary to the core, Bayo Famonure had wholly depended on Christ for sustenance in ministry. He and others worked with CAPRO from a fledgling missionary organization to the household name it has become today. It was in the middle of serving the Lord that this attack came on him and his family. The good news is that despite shooting him, his wife and two sons at close range, they all survived miraculously. The bullet to his head did not penetrate his skull and the one to his legs did not shatter a bone.

The question that this article ponders on is this: how long will these attacks continue?

First, there is the political matter of whether or not to label these attackers “Fulani herdsmen” or “suspected Fulani herdsmen”. There is a world of difference between these two terms. One’s traducers will respond by saying that no one else was in the house with the Famonures to corroborate their allegations that it was Fulani herdsmen who attacked them. Others will reply: how come only one ethnic group has been alleged of these killings since they began a few years ago?

Bullet holes on the mission house

There is also the political question of how come Fulani herdsmen attacks were almost nonexistent until the coming of this present administration? It appears, some argue, that the presence of Buhari at the helms of affairs in this country has emboldened his kinsmen to do as they please. Up till the time of writing this, there has been no Fulani herdsman prosecuted let alone convicted for these crimes. Another person will reply by saying that it was probably because the Fulanis are not culpable. Or, is it because our law enforcement agents have turned a blind eye to the violence?

Now let us get certain things clear as citizens of this country. Nigeria as presently constituted is a secular state. It means it is neither Christian nor Muslim. The nation’s constitution allows people to practice whatever religion they wish. This also includes freedom of gathering and association.
The concept of a modern secular state followed years of religious wars in Europe. After Martin Luther disrupted the peace of Europe in the sixteenth century with the coming of the Protestant religion, Europe was plunged in religious crisis. Following the 30-year war that ended in 1648 and destroyed most of Germany, Europe began to toy with the idea of religious toleration. It meant that in a modern state people could practice whatever religion they wished. It is this concept that the Americans further developed, thus leading to the practice of separating the State from the church.

What toleration means is that every citizen of a country can practice their religion. Every citizen can seek proselytes of other religion to theirs. But no one must be coerced against practicing the tenets of his religion. Religious proselytization must also start with words and end with words. No one uses the sword or gun to propagate his religion in modern times. Even modern Islam, at least in enlightened nations, has jettisoned the idea of spreading religion with the sword. This is why most Muslims abhor the Boko Haram ideology. The modern state has tolerance at the heart of religious practice.

With this in mind, one must then call on the authorities in this country to address the violation of the rights of one man, Rev. Adebayo Famonure, to practice his religion in freedom. The Nigerian state, which we all belong to and in which we are tax payers, has the responsibility of protecting its citizens. And this protection begins with fishing at the persons who have sought to snuff out life from Uncle Bayo and his family. The Nigerian state should also kindly work hard at bringing an end to the usage of this word “suspected”. This word has offered undue alibi to hundreds of criminal figures to perpetrate all kinds of evil on law-abiding Nigerians. Let us know, once and for all, what these animals in human skin want and let the country settle this question forever. We cannot be battling Boko Haram without and Boko Haram within. The government will do well to attend to these issues.

Bayo Famonure

The last thing anyone needs at these times of the Coronavirus pandemic is an attack on their lives and then spending unnecessary time in the hospital. As I write, Uncle Bayo and his family are recuperating in the hospital. This country owes this family a duty to protect them. Indeed we all deserve to live in safety and peace in our own country.

Disclaimer: This article are my personal observations on the attack on the Famonures. It is not the family official statement on it. Thank you.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

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