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Kidnappings Terrorize Christians in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Nurses, pastor’s wife taken, plus mass abduction from one village.

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria kidnapped a pastor’s wife from her home and two nurses from a hospital, while other Islamic extremists may have joined herdsmen in abducting more than 70 people from one village, sources said.

Fulaki Ozigi was kidnapped along with her husband, Mercy Place Ministry Church pastor Ozigi Hassan, and their four children from their home in Kudenda, in Kaduna state’s Chikun County, in the early hours of April 30, police said. Police pursuing the herdsmen into the forest were able to recover the pastor and the children, but the kidnappers escaped with Fulaki Ozigi, police spokesman Mohammed Jalige said.

At a public hospital in Idon, Kajuru County in southern Kaduna state, heavily armed Fulani herdsmen kidnapped two Christian nurses from a public hospital on the night of April 21, leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Nurses said. Cafra Caino, chairman of the Kajuru Local Government Council, identified the two women as Afiniki Bako and Grace Nkut.

A statement from the Fellowship of Christian nurses said they were “were very committed to sharing and living the gospel in their workplace.”

A nurse who escaped the attack, Rifkatu Alfred, said the herdsmen forced their way into the hospital shooting sporadically.

Nurse Afiniki Bako was kidnapped from a rural hospital in Kaduna state, Nigeria on April 21, 2021. (Fellowship of Christian Nurses)

“When they left, they called to say they were the kidnappers who abducted the two nurses, and if they are not given money, they will kill them,” Alfred told Morning Star News by phone, adding that they initially demanded 500 million naira (US$1.3 million) as ransom but later reduced it to 200 million naira (US$522,876).

Area resident Donatus Ayuba and Shingyu Shamnom, medical director of the hospital, concurred in separate messages to Morning Star News that the kidnappers were armed Fulani herdsmen.

Ishaku Yakubu, chairman of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives of Nigeria, Kaduna State Chapter, said the two nurses were serving the rural poor.

“We’re not safe, and health facilities in the state are no longer secured,” Yakubu said. “Beside the kidnapping of these two, five others were kidnapped before.”

Nurse Grace Zugwai Nkut was abducted in Kaduna state, Nigeria on April 21, 2021. (Fellowship of Christian Nurses)

Under Siege

In Libera Gida village, Kajuru County, militants from the Islamic extremist Boko Haram are suspected alongside herdsmen of kidnapping 72 residents on April 22, sources said.

Villagers counted 72 people missing after the late-night attack, 56 females and 16 males, according to a statement from Luka Binniyat, spokesman of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU). The kidnappers called their families on April 29 saying they had 77 Christians in captivity – with the additional five possibly coming from other raids – and that they would be killed if 350 million naira (US$915,033) were not paid, Binniyat said.

The Kaduna state government failed to make any mention of the mass abduction in its regular updates on security in the state, he said.

“Meanwhile, after unceasing siege on Christian farming communities in Kajuru LGA, more Christian communities have fallen under the control of these armed men, which we now suspect to be a coalition of armed herdsmen and Boko Haram,” Binniyat said.

The number of communities captured by armed herdsmen in Kajuru County is now 31, and throughout southern Kaduna state they have taken no fewer than 100 communities, he said.

The Rev. Solomon Tafida, senior pastor of Salvation Baptist Church, Kaduna, estimated there are 4,000 Christians held captive in Kaduna state by either herdsmen or Boko Haram.

“Most of the Christian victims who escaped from the camps of the herdsmen say there are over 4,000 Christians being held in captive camps in forests along the Kaduna-Abuja highway, near Rijana village,” he said.

The Kaduna state government’s quarterly security report stated that a total of 323 persons were killed and 949 others kidnapped by bandits in three months across the state.

“Deaths linked to banditry, violent attacks, communal clashes and reprisals in the first quarter total 323 across the state,” said Samuel Aruwan, commissioner for internal security and home affairs, who released the report on April 30. “Of these, 20 were women and 11 were minors.”

Nigeria led the world in number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report. In the 2021 list of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 the previous year.

In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list. Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to the report.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.

In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”

On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.

Herdsmen Kill Christians in Nigeria’s Nasarawa, Plateau States

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 12 Christians in Nasarawa state and three others in Plateau state the last part of April, sources said.

In north-central Nigeria’s Nasarawa state, herdsmen killed 12 Christian farmers in Ajimaka, Doma County, in attacks there and in 13 other villages from April 24 until April 29, area leader Barnabas Zayol told Morning Star News. The attacks displaced tens of thousands of people, Christian leaders said.

A survivor of the attack on Ajikama village, Terlumun Tsekaa, said the herdsmen arrived at about 2 a.m. on April 24 with guns and machetes and killed his wife, who was seven months pregnant, and 3-year-old child.

“There were more than 30 of these herdsmen who attacked us, and they were shouting ‘Allah akbar [Allah is greater]’ as they shot at us and burned our houses,” Tsekaa told Morning Star News. “They set fire on all houses in the village. They also killed a whole family of five members.”

In Doma County, the herdsmen also attacked Dooshima, Antsa, Dooka, Angwan Yara, Ikyayior, Targema, Tse Tor, Chia, Umurayi, Dooga, Gindan Rail and Ankoma villages; in Keana County, they attacked Ategher, Avewua, Ugbele Aondokaa, Ikper, Gborgyo and Uluwa Kwananke villages, Zayol said.

“They burned down houses and killed indiscriminately anyone they sighted,” Zayol said. “Those killed during the attacks include children and pregnant women.”

Victims were members of Universal Reformed Christian Church (NKST in Nigeria), Roman Catholic, Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) and Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) churches, he said. He identified those slain as Tsekaa Chiatyo, Kwaghdoo Tsekaa, Sewuese Tsekaa, Bobo Chiatyo, Aondosee Fidelis, Aboy, Igba Aduku, Iwueseter, Aseer, Kasehumba, William Katu and Aondowase Agbu.

Citing nine dead, police confirmed the attacks and said personnel were sent to the area. Ramhan Nansel, spokesman for the Nasarawa State Police Command, said in a statement that officers received report of the attack on Ajimaka at about 6 a.m. on April 24.

“Upon receipt of the information, a joint team of police and military personnel were deployed to the scene, where nine corpses were recovered, each with multiple machete cuts,” Nansel said.

Nasarawa Gov. Abdullahi Sule issued a statement through his chief press secretary, Ibrahim Addra.

“An attack that does not spare women and children bears the trademark of devilish elements who are bent on truncating the relative peace in the state,” he said. “A thorough investigations by security operatives have since commenced in order to expose the criminals and punish them according to the laws of the land. My condolences and prayers are with families of those who lost their lives.

“I urge them and the rest of our citizens to be assured that this administration will do all within its power to ensure justice, peace and security across the state.”

Attack on Funeral in Plateau State

In neighboring Plateau state on April 25, Fulani herdsmen killed one Christian and wounded another in Miango, Bassa County, an area resident said.

“Danlami Musa, 21, was killed, while Friday Musa, 19, his brother, was injured during the attack at about 7 p.m. at the twins hills, Miango,” Patience Moses said. “Please keep praying for God’s intervention on our behalf.”

On the same day in Bokkos County, herdsmen killed Christian community leader Yakubu Dadel in Jwanshak village in an attack on a funeral service at about 8:30 p.m., his son said.

Ayuba Dadel said his father was killed as other villagers scampered into nearby bushes.

“We were holding a funeral service when the Fulani gunmen came shooting sporadically, and everyone scampered for safety,” Dadel said in a text message to Morning Star News. “My father was in his house and only ran out to lock his gate. When they sighted him, they chased after him with serious gunfire. They first injured him on the hand, and when he ran to his bedroom, they followed him, dragged him to the ground from his bed and shot him point blank.”

Also in Bokkos County, Fulani herdsmen attacked Daffo village on April 20, killing Christian resident Iliya Mutong, villagers said.

“Iliya Mutong was cut with machetes until he died at about 8 p.m.,” Kyanan Mizhim said in a text message to Morning Star News. “He was sitting in front of his house when a group of Fulani herdsmen attacked him.”

In Jos South County on April 9, Fulani herdsmen were suspected in the killing of eight Christian miners at Shawalan mining site, near Kuru village. Emmanuel Jang, a Jos South council official, said their bodies were retrieved from the site and a funeral was held for them.

“They were all members of the Church of Christ in Nations,” Jang said in a text message to Morning Star News.

On March 13 in Barkin Ladi County, high school student David James, 18, was killed by Fulani herdsmen in Dorowa Babuje village, his father said. Solomon James, 68, said in a text message to Morning Star News that his son was killed in their home shortly before 8 p.m.

Community leader John Choji confirmed the killing of James.

“Our community has been under siege of armed Fulani herdsmen for a number of years now,” Choji said.

In the Dutse area of Miango on Feb. 1, a band of herdsmen killed twelve Christian farmers as they worked their fields, according to Edward Egbuka, Plateau state commissioner of police.

World Leader in Christians Killed

Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Open Door’s 2021 World Watch List report.

In the 2021 list of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 the previous year. In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.

In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”

On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.

Photo: Nasarawa state, Nigeria. (Creative Commons)

Persecution Watch: Prayer for Nigeria

3/27/2021 Dear Prayer Warriors, (Voice of the Persecuted) and Persecution Watch invite you to join us Saturday in a prayer conference call for the persecuted Church.

Prayer for Nigeria

Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, about 205 million. About half are Christians, Northern part majority Muslim, Southern part majority Christian. Nigeria has the highest violence against Christians of any country in the world, mostly in the east and middle belt, and spreading southward.

President Buhari’s father was a Fulani chieftain. Fulanis follow Islam and are the largest nomadic group in the world. They believe all land was given to the Muslims by Allah and have no problem taking it away from everyone else.

There has been a sharp increase to enforce Islamization of Nigeria. This attempt is affecting Christian communities, even in the South. The Fulani and other Muslims are appointed to all key governmental positions, not enforcing crimes against Christians. Christian families have little support from the government, including little education

About 7,000 Christians have been murdered in the last 5 years, mostly men and boys. Many girls and young women are abducted, some sold, some forced to marry Muslim men. Entire villages have been wiped out. Yet, there is very little International reporting from the press and seemingly little interest from other countries.

  • Pray God would strongly intervene in this situation; move by His Spirit across Nigeria

  • Pray for followers of Islam, from President Buhari and others in power to the Fulanis, Boko Haram, other Muslims.  

  • Pray for protection of villages
  • Pray protection for girls who have been abducted; for their physical, emotional and spiritual protection.  We can pray for Leah and Alice at this time.
  • Pray for families of these girls


  • Pastor Brunson said he had to fight for his sanity when surrounded by Muslims in prison, doing their constant rituals and having no contact with other Christians.

  • Pray for those in prison and girls forced to marry Muslims would know God has not forsaken them, feel His presence, recall scriptures, not forsake the Lord.

  • Pray for their release


  • Pray for unity for the church in Nigeria


  • Pray for divine courage to face what they are facing; help them to have joy in the midst of tribulation
  • Pray would be able to forgive their persecutors and even pray for them


  • Pray for divine strategies; teach church how to war against enemy; hear from Lord clearly


  • Pray to raise up powerful and Godly leaders; fresh anointing for them


  • Pray for signs and wonders to know that Yahovah is God and not Allah;  Psalm 86:17  
  • Pray for boldness for the evangelists with signs and wonders to confirm truth of the Word

  • Pray for those displaced, against discouragement, etc.


  • Wake up church in other countries to pray for them, to help bear one anothers’ burdens and they would feel those prayers
  • Pray for NGO ministries; for wisdom, divine connections, finances, protection…

  • Pray for internet and other means of communication

  • Pray this situation in Nigeria will be brought to the attention of the world and pressure to stop persecution be applied

  • Pray for the harvest; build Your church in Nigeria

We will also continue to pray for:

Leah Sharibu and Alice – Nigeria

Pastor Wang Yi – China

Pastor Youcef Nadarkani- Iran

Anita – Iran

Valerie, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.

With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.

Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.

Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.

If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!

NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.

Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.

Christian Leaders Killed in Middle Belt of Nigeria

Pastor Jeremiah Ibrahim was buried on Dec. 11 at a funeral service at the ECWA church in Garatu village, Bosso County, Niger state, Nigeria. (Facebook).

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Mayhem continued in Nigeria as suspected Fulani herdsmen burned down the venue of a planned Christian conference in Kaduna state and earlier killed two clergymen in the country’s Middle Belt, sources said.

In Niger state in Nigeria’s Middle Belt northwest of Abuja, suspected Fulani herdsmen kidnapped and killed a Catholic priest on Jan. 15, and an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) pastor was killed on Dec. 10.

The Rev. John Gbaakan Yaji of the Roman Catholic diocese of Minna served St. Anthony’s Parish in Gulu and was also dean of the Lapai Deanery. Gbaakan and his brother were returning from a trip to Benue state when they were ambushed at Tufa village, along the Lambata-Lapai highway, at about 9 p.m., according to the Rev. John Jatau, a priest at St. Theresa Catholic Parish Madalla.

“The priest was taken by his captors into the bush, where he was tied to a tree and killed,” Jatau told Morning Star News by text message. “His corpse was found by a search party the following day.”

Gbaakan’s brother was kidnapped and his whereabouts were unknown, said Jatau, who had traveled with them to Benue and had left them at Suleja, where they proceeded on their journey while Jatau returned to his parish in Madalla.

The Rev. Mathias Echioda, chairman of the Niger state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), decried rampant kidnappings and killings in the state.

“We see such acts as wickedness motivated by religious motives,” Echioda said by text message. “There’s the urgent need for Nigeria’s government to put an end to these barbaric acts.”

The Rev. John Hayab, CAN vice chairman in Northern Nigeria, said people there live in fear.

“The spirit of violence has taken over the hearts of herdsmen, and Christians have become their targets of attacks,” Hayab told Morning Star News by text message. “Priests and pastors now face tough times as they face gruesome death.”

Also in Niger state, suspected herdsmen killed ECWA pastor Jeremiah Ibrahim on Dec. 10 in Chukuba village, Shiroro County. He was the pastor of the ECWA congregation in Kobwa Kuta.

His brother-in-law, Peter John, said the assailants attacked the ECWA church premises where the pastor’s home was located.

“My sister has become a widow,” and her two children have lost their father, he told Morning Star News by text message. “Oh God, rise on your throne and fight those bandits and hoodlums in Erena and Shiroro and all other places in Nigeria.”

ECWA leaders in Kuta said in a press statement that Pastor Ibrahim was shot in the early hours of Dec. 10. The Rev. Adamu Na’Allah, district secretary of the ECWA, Minna District Church Council, said Pastor Ibrahim and his wife were in Chukuba village to harvest crops from their farm when they were attacked.

“A day before they could start the harvest, the bandits came and attacked the church’s pastorium,” Na’Allah told Morning Star News. “Ibrahim and another pastor who was also in the house at the time of the attack hid in the ceiling of the house. And when they felt everything was quiet, they came down from the ceiling, but unknown to them the bandits were still lurking around the premises. Rev Ibrahim dropped from the ceiling and was immediately shot by the bandits, resulting to his death.”

Five Christian women, including the wife of the deceased pastor, were abducted and released after payment of a ransom, he said.

Pastor Ibrahim was buried on Dec. 11 after a funeral service at the ECWA church in Garatu village, Bosso County, Niger state.

Conference Venue Burned Down

On Wednesday (Jan. 27), suspected herdsmen burned down the building where a Christian conference was to have been held Friday through Sunday in Zonzon, Zangon Kataf County, Kaduna state, sources said.

ECWA pastor Love Zidon said the ECWA Youth Fellowship Conference of Zonzon District Church Council was to be held at the venue that herdsmen destroyed Wednesday evening.

A 48-second video clip sent to Morning Star News purports to show the destruction of the conference site. One of the conference organizers says in the video, “The enemy, Hausa/Fulani, came and burned it down completely; therefore, how can peace be obtainable in Atyap land with all these types of atrocities? Therefore, I call on the government for a quick action.”

At the same time, the Kaduna state government confirmed the arrest of three armed herdsmen suspected of attacking Christian communities in southern Kaduna state. Samuel Aruwan, commissioner of the state’s Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, issued a statement on Jan. 22 saying that two “bandits,” the government’s term for herdsmen, were arrested by personnel of the Nigerian army in Zangon Kataf County.

“The two suspects, Abdulhameed Abubakar Bala and Abubakar Abdulhameed Garba, were arrested following a tip-off in connection with their alleged involvement in a series of attacks on Gora Gan, Damkasuwa, Zonzon and Kwaku in December 2020,” Aruwan said. “The suspects are in the troops’ custody undergoing preliminary investigation.”

He said soldiers arrested a third suspect, Shehu Musa, in connection with an attack on predominantly Christian communities in Zangon Kataf, after security agents trailed him to a hospital where he was receiving treatment.

Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List. In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.

Nigeria led the world in number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990, according to the WWL report. In the 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 the previous year.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.

In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”

On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

ISWAP Terrorists Execute Five Christians in Nigeria, Video Shows

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremist terrorists who kidnapped 11 Christians in northeast Nigeria on Christmas Day have executed five of them, according to a video released by the Islamic State’s AMAQ News agency.

The 49-second video, dated Dec. 29, shows five armed members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) lining up behind five men dressed in orange robes who are kneeling with their hands tied behind them. Ordered in the Hausa language to state their names, each of the kneeling men in turn is heard saying their name and adding, “I’m a Christian.”

Morning Star News heard the names spoken as Uka Joseph, Sunday, Wilson, Joshua Maidugu and Garba Yusuf.

Speaking in the Hausa language common throughout northern Nigeria, one of the ISWAP militants then says,

“This is a warning to Christians in all parts of the world and those in Nigeria. We have not forgotten what you did to our brethren in Zangon Kataf town and other parts of Nigeria. Use the heads of these five of your brethren to continue with your ungodly celebrations.”

The five Christians are then shot to death.

The executioner’s citing of Zangon-Kataf appears to refer to ethnic clashes in the area in Kaduna state in 1992 over a proposal to relocate a market away from land granted to the Hausa people, who are primarily Muslim. Clashes broke out between them and the indigenous, predominantly Christian Atyap people, resulting in 60 deaths in February 1992 and 400 more in May 1992, with Hausa youths killing many Christians of various tribes in retaliation.

On Christmas Eve ISWAP terrorists began an attack on Garkida, Adamawa state, that local residents assumed was launched by Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group from which ISWAP broke off in 2016. Government and local sources said the Nigerian army repelled the attack, but as it continued into the wee hours of Christmas Day, the assailants were said to have killed six Christians and kidnapped 11 others.

Screenshot of video released by Islamic State showing execution of Christians in northeast Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

Morning Star News received messages from area residents on Wednesday (Dec. 30) asserting that six Christians were killed in Friday’s (Dec. 25) attack on Garkida, and that the Christians martyred in the video were among the 11 kidnapped.

Moses Abarshi, a Christian leader in northern Nigeria, notified Morning Star News that a Christian had told him that his brother and four other Christians had been executed for their faith.

“Please let us keep the family in our thoughts and prayers in this trying time,” Abarshi said by text message. “May the blood of these martyrs keep speaking for the gospel. May the church not be frightened and discouraged, in Jesus name!”

In the attack on Garkida town, ISWAP burned down homes, looted shops and stores, set fire to a hospital and took food from homes, area Christians said.

On July 22 a video was released showing terrorists believed to be members of ISWAP executing five men, with one militant saying it was warning to “all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity.”

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 designated Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.

In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”

On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.

On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

Spike in Boycotts of Turkish Goods and Services; Consumers Cite Warmongering as Cause

Image: by Yerevanci, Wikimedia Commons

The Armenian people — whose nation was the first to adopt Christianity as its state religion in 301 AD—were native to what is present-day Turkey for more than 3,000 years. However, they became an occupied nation following Turkic invasions in the 11th century. Although indigenous, as Christians Armenians were considered second-class citizens by their oppressors, and their human rights steadily declined and culminated in outright massacre by Turkey beginning in the 1800s. Their pleas for equal rights and even autonomy were met with a premeditated, state-sponsored genocidal plan which sought to eliminate the Ottoman Turkish Empire of non-Turks, including not only Armenians but Christian Assyrians and Greeks. The result was a combination of torture and massacre for adult men; torture, rape and abduction into harems, and forced conversions for select women and children; and torture, murder and deportations — also known as death marches — for the remaining Armenians. Although more than 1 ½ million Armenians, ¾ million Assyrians/Chaldeans and 1 million Greeks perished in the ordeals, today’s Turkish regime does not acknowledge the Genocide. And, there has yet to be restitution for these crimes against humanity.

— Lucine Kasbarian

As Turkey continues it’s constant attacks against Armenians, Lucine, known by VOP’s founder, has asks us to share the following report.

Six days into the renewed attacks by the Azerbaijan-Turkey-Israeli axis on Armenia and Artsakh, many countries have come forward to denounce the warmongers.

But none of these condemning nations has yet to put any meaningful actions behind its words.

Consequently, everyday people who have stakes in the conflict — or are simply upholding their values — are imposing their own sanctions upon these rogue states.  Enter the consumer boycott.

A term used to describe the withdrawal from commercial or social relations with a country, organization, or public figure as a form of protest or punishment, a boycott can be effective because anyone can participate.   One need not hail from the corridors of power to make an impact.

According to the Boycott-Turkey.org and Boycott-Turkey.net campaign (websites hijacked – this is a partial mirror site), “probably one of the most powerful weapons individuals have to effect political change is their consumer purchasing power.”

For years, Turkey has injected itself, often militarily, into the sovereign affairs of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Greece, Cyprus, India, and now, Armenia and Artsakh. On October 2, reports emerged that Turkey is using NATO and American facilities to attack Armenia and Artsakh.  Since NATO is unable or unwilling to rein in this rogue nation that many consider to be the single greatest threat to global security, public boycotts are increasingly gaining favor.

Against the backdrop of war, public disapproval for Turkish-made goods has intensified in Armenia again. Armenians recognize that Turkey’s involvement in this war will allow it to complete the Armenian Genocide.

The Republic of Armenia announced on October 1 that its supermarkets will no longer carry Turkish products. Merchants and importers are choosing other trade partners.

Since the renewed attacks on Armenia, communities in the Armenian Diaspora have also seen a resurgence in Turkish products and services boycotts.

Boycotting Turkey has been relatively consistent over the generations as Armenians as a rule refuse to support Turkey’s economy which has already enriched itself through confiscated Armenian national wealth and territory after launching the Armenian Genocide with no reparations or sanctions in sight.

These citizen initiatives include boycotting Turkish construction companies; restaurants, nightclubs; grocery stores and packaged goods; Turkish rugs, carpets, and textiles; Turkish music/ dance performances, and musical recordings; Turkish movies and soap operas; Turkish Airlines and tourism to Turkey, Azerbaijan, and/or N. Cyprus; as well as discouraging enrollment in Turkish language and studies programs at international academic institutions, many which are deeply enmeshed with the Turkish government and its military industrial complex.

Armenian-American activist Shunt Jarchafjian is on a mission to educate his fellow Armenians about the products they might see at their local markets. He pointed out that Tukas tomato paste was owned by the Turkish Armed Forces Pension Fund. He says that if someone bought that product from 1967 to 2014, the purchaser contributed to the tax revenue of the Republic of Turkey, and helped fund the retirement of the soldiers serving in the Turkish Armed Forces. He also adds that the Ulker processed foods company sits atop an Armenian cemetery confiscated by the Turkish government during the Armenian Genocide. He makes a point of explaining how the Turkish military and government have tormented the Armenians year after year, and how consumer consciousness counts.

Some activists are also demanding the suspension of support of all cultural exchange programs organized to foster so-called “reconciliation” initiatives between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

According to Bloomberg News, the Turkish lira “plunged to successive record lows in September,” that is, since the Armenia/Artsakh invasions, with 7.83 lira to the dollar. As many aggrieved groups are simultaneously boycotting Turkey, the country may be feeling the squeeze economically.

In July 2020, communities of Greece and Greek Cyprus doubled down on their decades-long boycotts of Turkish products and tourism in response to the unresolved Turkish Genocide of Hellenes, Armenians and Assyrians and the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.  Their new initiatives are in response to Turkey’s highly-contested conversion of the UNESCO-protected Christian Orthodox Cathedral of Hagia Sophia into a mosque and Turkish illegal drilling incursions into the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey under Erdogan may attempt to justify his many foreign interventions in a bid to realize his dream of restoring the Ottoman Caliphate. However, Turkey’s relationship with the Muslim world is also not as ironclad as Erdogan may wish to have it appear.  Mahmoud Zahran, a researcher specializing in Turkish affairs, said “the success of boycott campaigns would reveal how unpopular Erdogan’s regime is in a region where he has tried to paint himself as a leader.”

At the end of September, Saudi Arabia announced a ban on all Turkish goods. The Saudi Kingdom has been at loggerheads with Turkey over the contested murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the status of the Qatar peninsula.  According to the Turkish newspaper Dunya, the Saudi government has ordered individual businesses not to trade with Turkish companies or buy any products made in Turkey, and has imposed fines on companies that do not comply.

A Turkish boycott campaign in also in effect in Egypt. In January of this year, MP Ismail Nasr El-Din called on the government to impose a boycott of Turkish products, services and tourism “in response to the blatant transgressions by the Turkish government in the region, and its attempts to plunder the wealth of the Middle East, spread chaos, and destabilize the Middle East.” MP Omar Sumaida, head of the Congress Party, said “we launched a campaign to boycott Turkish products, and our party has developed plans to educate citizens to boycott Turkish products in all offices affiliated with the party across the country.” As early as 2013, a number of Egyptian TV channels stopped airing Turkish soap operas and dramas, to protest Turkish intervention in the Middle East.

These popular boycotts intensify the existing Arab League boycott. Many Arab countries cannot afford the high cost of retaliating militarily to Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, and so are opting for economic sanctions as defense.  “An Arab boycott of Turkish products would significantly hurt Ankara’s economy. Turkish exports to the Arab world total more than $30 billion annually, representing 18.3% of its overall exports, according to the trade data website, Trade Map.

Iraqi Kurds such as Jwnaid Murad, owner of Las Market in Erbil, have a boycott of Turkish products in effect. “Of course, boycotting goods will affect my business. But after watching Turkey commit the war crimes they have in Rojava, I don’t care,” he said. “If I had to choose between starving to death and eating food produced by Turkey, I would starve.” Iraqi Kurdish boycott organizer Hamid Banyee of Sulimaniyeh says “We’re expanding the campaign to include all parts of society, which will be a fatal blow to the Turkish economy,”

The Turkish lira has been in sharp decline since 2017, including increasing inflation, Turkish economists say. Sergey Dergachev, senior portfolio manager at Union Investment, believes that the geopolitical choices made by Turkey have contributed to the financial freefall.

As the number of global Armenian boycotts increase following the violent flare-up between Azerbaijan and Artsakh in July, Turkish/ Azeri thugs started to attack peaceful Armenians around the world, as well as destroy and deface Armenian churches, schools, monuments and memorials.  The very day Azeri attacks on Artsakh began on Sep 27, the Karageozian family of Armenian-owned Noor Mediterranean Grill in Somerville, Massachusetts began receiving death threats, violent social media posts, negative online reviews, and slurs.

Few know that since 1992, independent Armenia has endured an illegal economic blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan for standing by the Armenians of Artsakh. In fact, Turkey has been running one of the longest and biggest boycott operations of all time which includes occupying and confiscating the ancestral Armenian homeland for a thousand years. Thus, Armenian-made products rarely leave Armenia for export. At the same time, Turkey has been exporting its own cheaper goods to Armenia through the Republic of Georgia, an act which presented the needy of Armenia with reason to abandon their own more expensive products for Turkish ones. 

Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Armenia and refuses to establish them until Armenia gives up Artsakh, accepts the boundaries agreed upon in the disastrous 1921 treaty of Kars between Kemalist Turkey and Soviet Russia (there is no official agreement over these borders between independent Armenia and the Republic of Turkey), and promises to stop pursuing international recognition for the Armenian-Greek-Assyrian Genocide of 1915. 

Says Armenian-American activist Joe Sifatsouz, “Most Turkish restaurants outside Turkey are subsidized by the Turkish government, which might explain why there are so many of them. When a friend has a yen for kebabs, tell him or her to enjoy the variations made by neighborhood Armenian, Assyrian, Cypriot, Egyptian, Greek, Kurdish, Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Indian, or Iraqi restaurants instead.”

But individual resolve is seen as only one aspect of the issue. U.S. President Trump once said he was ready to halt a $100 billion dollar trade deal with Turkey over its hubris in Syria. “If the superpowers are sincere about curbing the Turkish menace, they should stop hiring Turkish construction firms, break bilateral tax treaties and remove Turkey companies from U.S. Stock Exchange listings,” added Sifatsouz. “Right now, Turkish businesses abroad must pay their host countries as well as Turkey’s Internal Revenue Administration. Removing obligatory taxes to the Turkish state — and other large-scale economic sanctions — will bring Turkey to heel.”

By Lucine Kasbarian

Armenia: An Unwelcome Conflict and a Call to Prayer

Commentary by Lela Gilbert (CBN) How familiar are most Americans with the ancient country of Armenia? It’s probably best recalled because of the great tragedy that took place there in the early 20th century—the Armenian Genocide. That massacre of some 1,500,000 Armenian Christians (along with the murder of around 750,000 Greek Christians) took place between 1914 and 1922.

In recent days, violence has erupted once again in Armenia’s corner of the world. This involves Christian Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh versus Muslim Azerbaijan. And now, Islamist Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has entered the fray, fueled by his dream of a neo-Ottoman caliphate.

On Monday, September 28, Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) News reported:

Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of reigniting their decades-long conflict in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh after fresh violence erupted in the breakaway region.

The two sides resumed open conflict again on Monday morning with the use of heavy artillery. Outbreaks of violence had continued through the night, according to the Armenian Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan.

“During night battles continued with different intensity. Early in morning, Azerbaijan resumed its offensive operations, using artillery, armored vehicles, TOS heavy artillery system,” Stepanyan wrote on Twitter…

At least 31 people — both civilians and military — have died in fighting that erupted on Sunday between Azerbaijani forces and Armenian rebels in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, officials said.

The early 20th century genocides, which were carried out by the Ottoman Turks, are widely understood to have been a jihad against Armenian Christians. In fact, at the time, the killings were declared as jihad by the Turks themselves. And according to my conversation today with a friend in Yerevan, Azerbaijan’s present invasion is perceived by Armenians as more of the same.

There are deeply rooted historical reasons for this understanding.

Armenia, which is now surrounded by Muslim countries, was the first country in the world to convert to Christianity—in 301 AD. Its Armenian Orthodox Church is rooted in the earliest Christian history. In fact, the biblical record of Armenia’s land stretches back to the book of Genesis, when Noah’s ark came to rest after the Great Flood on what came to be known as Mt. Ararat.

At the time those 1,500,000 Armenian souls were massacred at the end of World War I during the Genocide, Armenia’s historic possession of Mt. Ararat also was overturned by Turkey. Ever since the mountain has remained a potent symbol both of Armenia’s spiritual heritage and terrible forfeitures.

And now—as of today—conflict is again exploding against Armenia, including the little-known Armenian enclave called Nagorno-Karabakh. This separate remnant of Armenia—some 20 miles away from the existing border—was created by policies of the former U.S.S.R., when ethnic and religious groups were intentionally split apart.

In the early 1990s, Nagorno-Karabakh’s Christian communities were attacked by neighboring Azerbaijan, Azeri Turks, and other Muslim fighters. This conflict was widely understood by the Armenians as an extension of the earlier 20th century “jihad.” Miraculously, in a David vs. Goliath finish, Karabakh won that conflict—against all odds.

During a visit to Nagorno-Karabakh a few years after that battle, I learned that the conflict was clearly not just about land. There was a Muslim/Christian component as well. And there were, in fact, jihadi elements among the Azeri-Turks fighting against Armenia’s Christians. Tragically, some 30,000 died in that little-known war.

And now, Turkey’s ambitious Islamist President Erdogan has declared Armenia as “the biggest threat to peace in the region.” His latest posturing threatens Armenia and Karabakh, both of which are almost entirely Armenian Orthodox Christian.

As I wrote for The Jerusalem Post a few months ago:

Turkish aggression in at least five countries has been headlined in international news reports just this month, June 2020. These accounts focus on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest intrusions into Israel, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Greece.

Meanwhile, it is noteworthy to those of us who focus on international religious freedom that whenever Turkey moves in, religious freedom moves out. There can be no lasting freedom of worship for any faith unless it conforms with Turkey’s Islamic practices.

Now we can add Armenia to the list of Erdogan’s ambitions. Based on his recent hostilities, his transformation of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia and Chora Church into mosques, and his frequent expressions of triumphalism, a couple of serious questions arise:

Does Erdogan think that Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, which are ancient Christian historical heritage sites, represent yet another Hagia Sophia-type landmark? Does he feel driven to seize, Islamize, and declare them as yet more trophies for his neo-Ottoman Empire?

Those questions seem to be clearly answered in a report from Asia News:

Turkey has sent 4,000 Syrian Isis mercenaries from Afrin to fight against the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh. A few days ago land convoys reached Turkey and then Azerbaijan by air. The salary is 1,800 US dollars a month, for a duration of three months. A leader of the Syrian terrorist group said: “Thanks to Allah, from September 27 until the end of the month another 1000 Syrian mercenaries will be transferred to Azerbaijan”.

With another dangerous religious conflict exploding across that war-torn region, let’s remember to pray for our Armenian Christian brothers and sisters. May religious freedom truly flourish in their corner of the world as well as elsewhere around the globe.

Lela Gilbert is a Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom at Family Research Council.

VOP Note: Please pray for our Armenian Christian brothers and sisters.

One Man Slain, Children and Others Kidnapped in North-Central Nigeria

Damage from fire set at Baptist church building in Damba Kasaya village, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Facebook)

(Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen attacked a predominantly Christian village in north-central Nigeria, killing one resident, burning a church building and kidnapping four children among others on Monday (Aug. 24), sources said.

More than 20 herdsmen rode into Damba Kasaya village, Kaduna state, on motorcycles at about 8 a.m. in an attack in which they kidnapped four students, including a 10-year-old girl, from a school.

“Our church, Aminchi Baptist Church, here in Damba Kasaya, was burned, and Mr. Benjamin Auta, aged 35, was killed during the attack,” village resident Nuhu Aruwa told Morning Star News by text message.

Local news reports said Auta was killed while pursuing the fleeing herdsmen, but Aruwa said they killed him in his house, which is close to the school where the students were kidnapped. The herdsmen abducted seven Christians from the village in Chikun County, he said.

“Among them were four students of Prince Academy and one of their teachers,” Aruwa said. “Two other Christian farmers, a woman and a man, were captured and taken away too by the herdsmen.”

Village resident Emmanuel Zakka said three girls were kidnapped among the students – 10-year-old Favour Danjuma, Miracle Saitu Danjuma, 15, and Happiness Odoji, 16 – along with Ezra Bako, 17. Zakka identified the kidnapped teacher as Christiana Madugu, 29.

In the same county’s Damishi village, herdsmen reportedly abducted six Christians on Saturday (Aug. 22) from a hotel where they had taken refuge after Fulani herdsmen attacked their village. Two of the six kidnapped were women nursing babies.

On Saturday (Aug. 22) in Kakura village, in the Kajuma area also in Chikun County, Muslim Fulani herdsmen reportedly kidnapped an Anglican priest and his 10-year-old son. The Rev. Meshach Luka of the Anglican Diocese of Kaduna and his son were kidnapped from his station at Kakura II Kujama Missionary Archdeaconry.

They were freed on Monday (Aug. 24), according to the Hausa Christians Foundation, without providing details of their release.

The assaults were the latest in an acceleration of herdsmen attacks this year in Kaduna state. More than 50,000 Christians have been displaced from 109 villages now occupied by armed Fulani herdsmen in Kachia, Kajuru, Chikun and Kaura counties, all in southern Kaduna state, according to Luka Binnayat Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU).

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

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