VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Nigeria

Nigerian Church Leader Calls for Gov’t Protection After Gunmen Kill Pastor, Abduct His Wife

(CBN) A Nigerian pastor was reportedly killed and his wife abducted for ransom by unknown assailants Sunday evening while traveling on a highway where being attacked by criminals has become a common occurrence.

The Punch reported Jeremiah Omolara, the pastor of Living Faith Church in Romi New Extension, a suburb of Kaduna state, was shot and killed when the attackers ambushed his vehicle on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.

In addition to Omolara’s wife, the couple’s son was also in the vehicle. He was able to escape, according to news reports.

The assailants are demanding a ransom in the amount of more than $138,000 for the pastor’s wife.

Omolara’s murder and his wife’s abduction were confirmed by Rev. Joseph Hayab, chairman of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Hayab urged the Nigerian government to tighten security in the state, according to to the Daily Post Nigeria.

He also told of how kidnappings in the Kaduna are on the rise, especially the abduction of clergy.

“Just last week a clergyman was attacked in Kasuwan Magani,” Hayab explained. “The security man was killed immediately as they struggled to find their way into the house. Thank God, the gunmen could not gain entrance into the room.”

He also added the daughter of a Baptist pastor was recently abducted and the kidnappers are demanding a huge ransom.

“Now the Living Faith Church pastor was killed along Kaduna-Abuja in the presence of his wife, who was later abducted,” Hayab told the newspaper. “That tells you that the new trend is to attack us in our homes or in our churches or on the roads. We are just not safe anywhere and we are asking the same question we have been asking: ‘Where are our security agencies?'”

“Are we being told tactically that we should defend ourselves?” he continued.

Nigerians at risk are often told by authorities to become vigilantes and protect their own villages.

“If we start defending ourselves, it means that we no longer have security or we no longer have government. Or is this government only for those they love and they don’t care about others?”

“We don’t want a situation where we will be forced to think of how to protect ourselves, we believe that government is there to protect us,” Hayab concluded.

As CBN News has reported, hundreds of Christians have been killed in Nigeria by radical Islamic militias, including the Fulani herdsmen.

“Nigeria is now the deadliest place in the world to be a Christian,” explained attorney Emmanuel Ogebe. “What we have is a genocide. They are trying to displace the Christians, they are trying to possess their land and they are trying to impose their religion on the so-called infidels and pagans who they consider Christians to be.”

 

Pregnant Mother among Five Christians Slain in North-Central Nigeria

Muslim Fulani herdsmen have become heavily armed in recent years. (File photo)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A pregnant mother of two children was among three Christians killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria the night of July 14 and morning of July 15, sources said.

Margaret Wakili, a 27-year-old member of the Baptist Church in Ancha village, Plateau state, was slain on her farm at about 10 a.m. on July 15, area residents told Morning Star News.

The herdsmen attacked the Christian communities of Ancha, Tafigana, Kperie, Hukke and Rikwechongu, killing the three Christians and burning down 75 houses and two church buildings, according to area residents Patience Moses, Zongo Lawrence and Chinge Dodo Ayuba.

Ancha village was the scene of an attack two years ago, when Fulani herdsmen killed 22 Christians, all members of the Baptist Church in the village.

Moses told Morning Star News by phone that Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked the villages on the night of July 14 and the early hours of July 15. In Tafigana village, Bassa County, she said, they killed Thomas Wollo, 46, and his son, Ngwe Thomas Wollo, 7.

“Both of them were ambushed and killed in Tafigana village as they were returning to their home after attending a church program at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Tafigana, at about 8:30 pm,” she said.

Lawrence, of Miango town, told Morning Star News that the herdsmen beheaded the elder Wallo after killing him. He said attacks on Christian communities in the area have heightened, with one village or another attacked nearly every day.

“We have been experiencing daily attacks by these Fulani herdsmen in our communities, most especially on Sundays during worship hours or Thursdays when church activities are held,” he said.

Lawrence said that 75 houses with food stores and two church buildings were burned down.

“The herdsmen destroyed farm produce worth millions of naira, and a lot of domestic animals were killed in the two villages,” he said.

The attacks on the farms occurred on July 14 as Christians were in worship services in the villages, he said.

Ayuba, another resident of the area, confirmed that Wollo and his son were killed on July 14.

“The attacks by the herdsmen continued on Monday morning with another village, Ancha, attacked, and a woman killed,” Ayuba said. “As a people, we are continuously under attack, and nobody seems to be hearing our cries for help, while killing of our people has now become a routine.”

Two other area Christians were killed in prior attacks. On July 7 in Kperie village of Kwall District, also in Bassa County, the herdsmen ambushed and killed a Christian identified as Ezekiel Audu, 25, at about 9 pm., Moses said.

“Christian residents said Audu was riding his motorcycle in company of his friends when they were ambushed and shot by the herdsmen,” she said. “He was a member of ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All] church in Kperie village.”

Prior to the July14-15 assaults, the herdsmen also attacked Hukke and Rikwechongu villages, destroying crops on farms belonging to Christians.

On May 3 at about 10 p.m., the herdsmen had attacked the same two villages, killing a Christian identified as 63-year-old Di Zere. Zere was killed in his room when the herdsmen broke into his house as he and his family were sleeping. His corpse was burnt, and his 10-year-old daughter sustained gunshot wounds.

Lawrence said Fulani herdsmen have killed 17 area Christians this year.

“We are left without rescue,” he said. “Houses were burnt and razed down, alongside many churches. Farm produce has been destroyed, while many with gunshot wounds are currently in hospitals. Hundreds of our people have been killed by the Fulani herdsmen in the past three years.”

Enugu State Shooting

In southeastern Nigeria’s Enugu state, Fulani herdsmen shot and wounded a Catholic priest and one of his parishioners on Wednesday (July 17), sources said.

The Rev. Ikechukwu Ilo of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, in Numeh, was shot as he and Chika Egbo drove along the Numeh-Nenwe Highway in Nkanu East County at about 7 p.m., according to a church press statement.

The statement from the Catholic Church quotes the priest as saying that those who attacked them were armed herdsmen.

“As we drove towards the village, the Fulani killer herdsmen, who spoke both in English and Fulani languages, opened fire, trying to force us to stop,” Ilo said. “Seeing that we were not ready to cave in to their intimidation, they started raining bullets on our vehicle at close range, and in the process, shot me at my ankle and shoulder while the other victim was shot in her leg and waist.”

The Rev. Benjamin Achi, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, told Morning Star News by phone that the attack on the priest and parishioner was carried out by Fulani herdsmen.

“Fr. Ilo and the woman with him are currently receiving treatment at a Catholic Church health facility, the Annunciation Specialist Hospital, Emene, Enugu state,” Achi said.

Police also on Friday (July 19) confirmed the attack.

“The Enugu state command of the Nigeria Police Force through its operatives are investigating the attack on a priest identified as Rev. Fr. Ikechukwu Ilo of St. Patrick Parish, Numeh on Wednesday July 18, 2019, along the Numeh axis of Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State,” police spokesman Ebere Amaraizu said in a press statement.

There is a history of attacks on Catholics in the state. In October 2016, herdsmen kidnapped two priests as the clergymen carried out pastoral duties in their local parishes. One of the kidnapped priests, the Rev. Aniako Celestine of St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Ukana, Udi County, was kidnapped by Fulani herdsmen while carrying out pastoral duties in the town of Ezeagu.

The second kidnapped priest, the Rev. Chijioke Amoke of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Onicha Enugu Ezike in Igboeze North County, was also kidnapped by armed herdsmen, diocesan officials reported.

Another Catholic priest, the Rev. Lazarus Nwafor, in August 2016 was killed by herdsmen when they attacked Attakwu town in Enugu state. The Rev. Callistus Onaga, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, stated then that Nwafor was cut several times in the attack by the herdsmen on the Attakwu Christian community in Nkanu West County.

Such attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen have adversely affected churches and crippled productive activities in the area, church leaders say.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

7-Year-Old in Nigeria: How Herdsmen Shot Me and Killed My Uncle

Muslim Fulani herdsman shot 7-year-old Christian boy in Gwanje village, Nasarawa state, on May 3, 2019. (Morning Star News)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – As a Baptist church member tried to fight off an armed Muslim Fulani herdsman in a village in north-central Nigeria, he told his 7-year-old nephew and other relatives to run.

The boy remained, crying and calling for help.

Jerome, whose real name is withheld for security reasons, recalled how gunshots woke him and his family around midnight on May 3 in Gwanje village, 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Akwanga in Nasarawa state. His account of a relatively limited attack gives a glimpse of how hundreds of Christian families have been terrorized by herdsmen.

A neighbor rushed over to tell Jerome’s father that he had received a call that the herdsmen were attacking from the south and coming toward their home north of the village.

Jerome’s father, 39, told his younger brother, 21-year-old Istifanus Arewa, to take the family into hiding in a forest 200 meters away. As Jerome fled with his uncle, mother and grandmother, the herdsmen began to shoot at them, the boy said.

“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,” Jerome told Morning Star News. “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 Fulani man was about to shoot my uncle, my uncle jumped up and grabbed him, and they began to wrestle each other.”

Arewa shouted for them to run, the boy said.

“My mother and grandmother ran away while I stood there crying and calling for help,” Jerome said. “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.”

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 left,” Jerome said. “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.”

Arewa died trying to save his relatives, said Jerome’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 Fulani man,” he said.

He confirmed that the shot that killed his brother instantly also killed the other Fulani.

“This singular act by my brother, who fought with his bare hands against the Fulani man, forced the herdsmen to retreat,” he said. “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.”

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 Jerome’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 said. “He took us to the spot they were shot at, and we found the corpses.”

Wounded Christian

Also wounded that night was Moses Ayuba, a 29-year-old member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Gwanje. He 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, told Morning Star News.

Para said 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, and so my son ran into the herdsmen who were invading the village, and they shot him,” Para told Morning Star News. “And 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 Christian communities in Akwanga County.

For his part, Jerome’s father said he was saddened that the Nigerian government has taken no serious measures to end such attacks.

“I’m not happy about these unnecessary attacks on innocent Christians in Nigeria,” he said. “There’s the need for the government to act to end these killings. I plead also, that other fellow Christians pray for an end to these killings. We are in need of God’s peace in our country.”

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Chibok Parent Insists 49 Towns Are Occupied By Boko Haram, Adesina Reacts

 

Displaced Christian Children on Christmas Day 2013

Voice of the Persecuted Note: Despite government reports, the article below confirms multiple communications sent to VOP from our sources that the Boko Haram still controls a very large area in North Nigeria’s Gwoza Local Government area. Unable to return home, many Christians have been trying to survive in IDP camps for years.

A Chibok Parent, John Bassa, has stated that at least 49 towns in the north east, are still being occupied by Boko Haram insurgents.

He said this on Tuesday during a town hall organized by Channels to assess the performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the last four years.

Bassa who stated that 44 of his relations who were Boko Haram commanders had been killed, and at least 50, were still “active and high-ranking officers of Boko Haram” controlling some territories, maintained that many towns are currently empty as a result of the insurgence.

When asked: “Are you saying that Boko Haram is still in control of some territories in the northeast, from where they plan and execute these attacks – he responded by saying “of course”.

He went further to explain that “out of 52 towns in Gwoza, its only three right now that you can freely live within. (that is, Limankara, Gwoza town and Pulka).

“Gwoza town was liberated by our former President Goodluck, one week before election then in 2015 and the new administration liberated Limankara and Pulka so, 49 towns are still empty with nobody apart from the Boko Haram. READ MORE

Three Children among 13 Christians Killed in Attacks in Two States in Nigeria

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Monday (June 17) killed four Christians in north-central Nigeria’s Kaduna state, including three children, on the same day nine other Christians were slain in neighboring Plateau state, area sources said.

Christian residents in Kaduna state’s Kauru County told Morning Star News that between 3 a.m and 4 a.m. well over 200 armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen invaded predominantly Christian Ungwan Rimi Kamuru village, killing 8-year-old Monday Yahaya, 9-year-old Zhime Danladi and Samson David, 15.

“They were all buried today after a brief prayer at the grave site,” area resident Thomas John told Morning Star News in a text message.

A Kaduna police spokesman reportedly confirmed the killings but identified the 9-year-old as Ashimile Danladi and cited Samson David’s age as 17.

Also in Kauru County, that evening herdsmen attacked predominantly Christian Kikoba village, killing Audu Gara, kidnapping a Christian woman, Asabe Deme, and burning houses, according to area resident Matthew Nasamu, 51.

“The Fulani herdsmen attacked Kikoba, a Christian village in Kauru LGA of Kaduna state, in the evening, around 5 p.m.,” Nasamu said in a text message to Morning Star News. “All houses were burned and razed down, farms were destroyed, and all the villagers are now displaced.”

In all, 93 houses belonging to Christians were burned, and farm crops were destroyed, he said.

Plateau State Attack

About 35 kilometers (21 miles) east in Riyom County, Plateau state, Muslim Fulani herdsmen at about 1 p.m. killed nine Christians and burned two church buildings in attacks on two villages, area sources said.

An attack on Kangbro village killed 25-year-old Gado Peter, Stephen Ziah, 60, and Adam Sabo, 65, said Miango resident Lawrence Zango in text messages to Morning Star News. A fourth Christian, Samson Audu Rivi, was receiving treatment for gunshots wounds at Enos Hospital, Miango, west of Jos.

Two church buildings were burned alongside 185 houses in Kangbro village, said area resident Patience Moses, 23, in text messages to Morning Star News.

“Two churches were burnt by the Fulani herdsmen in Kangbro, and the churches are ECWA [Evangelical Church Winning All] Church, Kangbro, and Catholic Church, Kangbro,” Moses said. “185 houses were burnt and destroyed, while the entire Christian villagers who survived the attacks are now displaced.”

Less than two miles away, Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot six Christians to death in the attack on the second village, Nakai Danwal, according to area resident Lawrence Zango, who said at least 54 houses were set on fire.

Previous attacks

Zango said that area Christians area have been under attack from herdsmen before.

In April and May, he said, herdsmen killed nine Christians in attacks on predominantly Christian communities of Kigam, Ri-Do, Rotsu, Hura and Jebbu Miango.

“Fulani terrorists killed nine industrious Nigerian citizens and injured two within a month,” Zango said. “The killings are continuation of their usual genocide attacks on innocent farmers on the plateau, destroying their only means of livelihood.”

Salah Akpa, a Christian and head of Kigam village, was killed on his farm on April 9, he said. The following day, a Christian identified only as Emma from Ri-Do village was killed. Herdsmen killed two other people, Janah Dare and Dadi Ibrahim, in an ambush on April 14 in Hura village, he said.

On April 27, the same Fulani herdsmen killed Sunday Di and a Christian identified only as Baram as they made their way home in Dong village, Zango said. The next day in Rotsu village, the same herdsmen ambushed Christians Emmanuel Ishaya and Jummai Ijah, who along with a 7-month-old baby identified only as Tabitha were wounded but survived, he said.

On May 1 herdsmen killed Monday Audu Rivo as he made his way to his farm, and the same day another unidentified resident going hone to Jebbu Miango was shot and was receiving treatment at Enos Hospital, Miango.

“The activities of the Fulani terrorists are similar and the same with that of Boko Haram in the Northest,” Zango said. “The federal government should direct security agencies to investigate and arrest the leaders of the Fulanis within close environs before it escalates to destroy Nigeria.”

The government needs to send more security personnel to rural areas where Fulani herdsmen are forcefully capturing grazing area, he said, adding that it also needs to send relief aid to victims of attacks and compensate traumatized farmers.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

NIGERIA – Kidnapped priest released; over 150 violent deaths in a week

Agenzia Fides reported that Fr. Isaac Agubi, a priest who serves at the Holy Name church of Ikpeshi, 230 km away from Benin City, capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria was released by the police. The priest had been kidnapped on June 16th along the Auchi-Igarra road, around 5 pm, as he was returning home from church service. Area hunters helped police forces identify where the kidnappers were in the forest. During the release of the priest one of the bandits was injured.

It’s believed the kidnappers belong to a group of Fulani, who in Nigeria and other West African countries have committed of violent raids. In the last week in northern Nigeria, violence linked to the Fulani issue and others committed by Boko Haram, caused the death of over 150 people, while nine others were kidnapped, the report stated.

In the State of Sokoto on June 15, 25 people lost their lives in raids, likely committed by the Fulani, in three villages. In a separate incident, a woman, and her stepson, were kidnapped by a gang of Fulani on Airport Road, in the city of Osi, in the state of Ondo, on their way to church.

On 12 June an officer and 20 soldiers in the State of Borno were killed in the attack on a military formation. The Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA), then claimed responsibility for the attack.

On June 14, at least 34 people were killed in an assault by an armed group that attacked three villages in the area of Shinkafi in the State of Zamfara. The militanys, who arrived on motorcycles, set fire to the houses and shot all those they encountered.

A few days ago His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, had denounced “the unprecedented level of insecurity” and the “complete impunity” of who sows chaos and destruction in the Country.

 

Dozens of Christians killed and kidnapped in Nigeria

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Gunmen suspected to be local Fulani Muslims killed several Christians as they made their way home from church services in Jos, Nigeria on Sunday (May 26) following the murder of another area Christian last week, sources said.

Area Christian Peter Sarki informed Morning Star News by text message that local Muslims east of Jos, Plateau state, killed seven Christians on Sunday after unidentified Muslims killed Moses Victor, a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), in the Rikkos area of Jos on May 20.

Police put the number of people killed in the areas on Sunday (May 26) at five and said 12 houses were burned. Sarki said more than 12 houses were burned, and that 12 additional Christians were wounded in the attacks. He said the violence took place in the Jos areas of Rikkos, Angwan Rukuba, Tina Junction, Cele Bridge, Dutse Uku, and Yan Trailer.

Sarki identified two of the Christians killed as they made their way home from ECWA church services on Sunday morning as Enoch Monday and Istifanus Ismailaj. Michael Anthony Pam of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Nasarawa Gwong, and four others yet to be identified were also killed, he said.

Michael Anthony Pam, killed in attacks in Jos, Nigeria on Sunday, May 26, 2019.(Morning Star News courtesy of diocese)

“Pam was the president of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria of his parish,” Sarki told Morning Star News.

Tyopev Matthias Terna, spokesman for the Plateau State Command, said in a press statement that the body of Enoch Monday was found on Sunday between Dutse Uku and Angwan Damisa in Jos North Local Government Area, and that units were dispatched to the area to restore calm.

As gunfire echoed and smoke from burning homes billowed in the distance, a Morning Star News correspondent and his family were temporarily stranded at their church building near the area on Sunday morning after receiving word from local people that Cele Bridge, Tina Junction, Rikkos, Dutse Uku, Yan Trailer and Angwan Rukuba were under attack. Other motorists who had attempted to pass through the areas were forced back due to the attacks.

The attacks may have led to more fatalities. The head of a northern Nigeria pastors’ fellowship known as the Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA), the Rev. Luke Shehu, said in a press statement that “about 30” Christians were killed and 20 houses burned.

Pastor Shehu, who oversees a congregation in Jos, said that ethnic Fulani Muslim militia were responsible for the attacks, which he said were part of a planned “Fulanisation and Islamization” of Nigeria.

“Despite the intervention of security operatives, in less than 12 hours about 30 Christians were killed and over 20 houses where burnt or destroyed by Muslim militia, some in military uniforms from around Tina junction, Cele bridge, Dutse Uku and Nasarawa areas, all bordering Muslim communities in Jos North,” Pastor Shehu said. “These targeted attacks on innocent Christians are unacceptable, particularly with confirmed arrests of over 30 Christian women fruit and food vendors by soldiers around Tina junction in Jos after the attack today, 27th May 2019.”

A purported executive order by President Muhammadu Buhari revoking all firearms licenses beginning June 1 is largely seen as a ploy to keep Christians and minority tribes unarmed in the face of the heavily armed “Fulani militias and terrorists,” he said.

In the Riyom LGA of Plateau state about an hour south of Jos by car, gunmen believed to be Fulani militants reportedly killed six members of one family on Monday (May 27) at 7 p.m. Two children, their parents and grandparents of the Lo-Gwong Du family were killed, according to local press reports.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Armed Gunmen Kidnap 19 Christians, Kill One in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Pastor, daughter among 17 abducted in one attack, while another assault claims a life.

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suspected Fulani herdsmen stormed a church choir practice and kidnapped 17 Christians in north-central Nigeria the night of May 18, and the same night gunmen killed a Christian and kidnapped two others at a Baptist church, sources said.

Each attack took place in Kaduna state, where assaults on Christians with impunity have recently ramped up in the increasingly lawless country.

In Dankande village, in the Dogon Dawa area of Birnin Gwari County 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of the city of Kaduna, the gunmen attacked Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) after midnight, at 12:30 a.m. on May 19, as a combined choir made up of members of two churches was at a 9 p.m.-to-1 a.m. rehearsal, one of the choir members said.

“As we were in the church, Fulani herdsmen numbering over 20 just surrounded the church and started shooting,” Ezekiel Ishaya told Morning Star News. “Everybody was terrified, but there was no way we could run because they had already surrounded the church. They were asking for the pastor’s house, and they threatened to shoot us if we don’t show them the house. Some of them went to the pastor’s house while others kept watch over us.”

The Rev. Nathaniel Waziri, chairman, of the ECWA Zaria District Church Council, confirmed in a press statement on Thursday (May 23) that the gunmen kidnapped the Rev. Zakariya Ido, his daughter and 15 other church members, including the son of the pastor of an Assemblies of God Church.

“The gunmen came and asked everyone in the church to surrender phones and thereafter demanded the whereabout of the pastor,” he said. “After threatening the choristers, they became afraid and showed them the pastor’s house.”

Ishaya said besides the ECWA pastor and his daughter, 10 females and five males were abducted.

“It was in the midst of the confusion that I escaped from the attackers,” Ishaya said.

The Rev. Emmanuel Ibrahim, chairman of the Birnin Gwari chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), confirmed the assault and said Nasara Baptist church in Guguwa-Kwate village, in the Rigasa area of Igabi County 37 kilometers (22 miles) north of the city of Kaduna, was attacked the same night.

“One member was killed and two other members were kidnapped the same night by another group of Fulani herdsmen,” Pastor Ibrahim told Morning Star News, identifying the slain Christian as Obadiah Samson.

Kaduna Kidnappings

Christians and churches in Kaduna state have been under attack for years by either herdsmen or Muslim terrorist groups.

Armed herdsmen in May 2017 kidnapped pastor James Effiong Okon of The Apostolic Church in Zaria while he was on his way from Zaria, Kaduna state, to the city of Kaduna. Pastor Okon was area superintendent of the Apostolic Church in Lawna, Cote D’Ivoire, before being transferred to Zaria.

There has been no word of him since he was kidnapped.

In March 2016, a Fulani gang kidnapped three pastors. The president and vice president of the United Church of Christ in Nigeria (HEKAN), the Rev. Emmanuel Dziggan and the Rev. Illiya Anthony respectively, along with the Rev. Yakubu Dzarma, were abducted from Dutse village in Kaduna state. Pastor Anthony fell ill and was reportedly left in the forest to be found by relatives, while the other two church leaders were held for nine days before a ransom was paid for their release.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

%d bloggers like this: