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Praying for Christians attacked in Nigeria

5/10/2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) Dear Prayer Warriors, you are invited to join us on Tuesday, May 10 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted Church hosted by Persecution Watch.

Tonight, we will pray for Christians suffering extreme trials in Nigeria.

Nurse Grace Zugwai Nkut, who was abducted in Kaduna state, Nigeria on April 21, 2021 

Read report here

Herdsmen Kill Christians in Nigeria’s Nasarawa, Plateau States.

Read report here

We will continue remember our Brothers and sisters in India. 

We will also Pray for: 

Leah Sharibu and Alice that they will be set free from Boko Haram captivity.

  • Leah Sharibu was kidnapped along with 109 other students on February 19, 2018 when Boko Haram attacked a boarding school in the city of Dapchi, Maiduguri Diocese, in north-eastern Nigeria. A month later, some of the girls died in captivity and all the others were released, except Leah. She was the only Christian in the group.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah was kidnapped during the Rann attack on March 1, 2018. She was a nurse working with Unicef and is a mother of two.

Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison, for his family, the children, and the church in China. 

  • On December 28 the police raided the Early Rain Church and arrested Pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, and ten elders of the well-known 750-member church for holding “illegal” services. Some 100 believers were detained, questioned, and later released. Pastor Wang’s wife was also released. Pastor Wang remained in detention.

Anita, an Iranian Christian, persecuted by the Islamic regime seeking asylum.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, for his release and his family as their persecution continues. 

  • Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani converted to Christianity at the age of 19 and leads a 400-member house church in Rasht, Iran. Since 2006, Iranian authorities have consistently harassed and detained Pastor Nadarkhani and his family. In 2010, the authorities sentenced him to death for apostasy before acquitting him in 2012. Pastor Nadarkhani was tried again in 2017 on false charges of “acting against national security” and promoting “Zionist Christianity,” for which he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. By July 2018, plainclothes agents raided Pastor Nadarkhani’s home to execute the sentence, beating and apprehending him and using a taser gun on one of his sons. He is now incarcerated at the notorious Evin prison near Tehran.

The harvest 

  • “And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

The Lord’s servant,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call Leader

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

Time:

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Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

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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.

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)

‘Bring back our 112 Chibok girls – now and alive!’ Demands for closure and disclosure 7 years on

Pictures of 82 girls freed in 2017; 112 are still un-accounted for
 

(World Watch Monitor) ‘I’m Chibok girl Dad. Bring Back Our Girls Now’ read the white letters on the man’s red T-shirt.

The same morning, 15 April seven years ago, he woke to hear his daughter had been abducted from her school dormitory at night. He’s not seen her since, has no idea if she is alive or dead. But amidst his anguish he pleads “Our people are being killed on weekly basis”.

This came on the 7th anniversary of the kidnap of 276 girls, even as global news headlined an attack on a humanitarian hub in the same state from which the schoolgirls disappeared into the Sambisa Forest on the night of April 14th 2014. 112 of them remain un-accounted for.

The dad pleaded ‘Even if our girls remain in the Forest, how has the government abandoned us? Why can’t it secure their parents and brothers? I appeal to [Borno] Governor Zulum…to bring peace to our land”. (There have been three attacks this week in the Borno town of Damasak, 200 miles north of Chibok, on the border with neighbouring Niger – this time by the Islamic State, West Africa Province (ISWAP), which has splintered away from Boko Haram.

Other figures from Chibok echoed his plea “If Nigeria does not rescue our Chibok girls, there’ll be no peace in Nigeria. Boko Haram is increasing in many ways. No amount of intimidation will stop us demanding your [the girls’] rights” said one into the camera. Asked what she would say to her daughter Sarah in case she might be watching, Mrs Samuel said ‘Keep hope alive; we wait for you’.

Sarah will soon turn 25, so was kidnapped at the age of 17. Mrs Samuel also apparently shocked her audience by saying she had not heard anything from the government since the release of 82 of the girls in May 2017.

During the Zoom event, the founder of Citizens’ Hub, Aisha Muhammad Yesufu also boldly challenged the Nigerian government:

“What is the crime of a Chibok girl? Is it that she’s a girl? Is it that she’s Nigerian? Is it that she’s poor?”

Event speakers all said they struggle to understand why recent mass school kidnaps (there have been at least three this year alone) have seen those children freed almost the very next day.

They point to initial denials and incredulity by the state and federal authorities; indeed the President at the time of the 2014 mass abduction, Goodluck Jonathan, eventually ordered an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the mass kidnap because his government denied the incident had even happened for the first two weeks. The inquiry, led by retired Army-Gen. Ibrahim Sabo submitted its report on 20 June, 2014 but it has never been published and nothing has been heard of it since, according to one of the speakers.

Hence the slogan for this week’s event: “Bring Back our Girls- now and alive! Disclosure and closure” – disclosure of the Sabo report and closure for the abducted girls, their parents and communities.

Attendees heard that twenty parents have now died before seeing their daughters – again, most of them from high blood pressure or other stress-related medical conditions.

Seven years ago, a report showed how the Chibok girls’ kidnap appeared to be part of the Islamist group’s strategic approach to destroy the Christian community in N. Nigeria, where in some states, Christians still form a significant minority.

Keynote speaker, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, who retired a year ago from his role as Catholic Archbishop of the capital Abuja, said that the failure of President Buhari to fulfil his promise to defeat Boko Haram ‘by December 2015’ showed ‘graduating incompetence’. He pointed out that the Nigerian army has claimed to have killed the group’s leader Shekau at least four times. He also said that Chibok had led to kidnapping becoming an industry in Nigeria. He also compared the fact that 42 people – teachers and boys – kidnapped in Niger state had been found and freed after ten days, on 27 Feb this year, while one lone Christian girl Leah Sharibu remains in captivity more than three years after abduction, together with UNICEF nurse Alice Loksha, who was kidnapped in October 2018.

Aid groups estimate that more than eight million people in the north-east are in urgent of humanitarian assistance as a result of the 10-year Islamist insurgency.

Church Confirms Release of Pastor Threatened with Execution

Pastor Bulus Yakura with EYN member Kwajaffa Balamusa (left) after the pastor’s release from Islamic extremist militants. (Morning Star News courtesy of Kwajaffa Balamusa)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Church leaders have confirmed reports that Islamic terrorists who threatened to execute a pastor they abducted in northeast Nigeria freed him on Wednesday (March 3).

The president of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or EYN), Joel S. Billi, told church leaders on Thursday (March 4) that he had spoken to Pastor Bulus Yakura (also transliterated as Bulus Yikura) after he was freed, according to a notice posted on Friday (March 5) on the website of the Church of the Brethren’s U.S. headquarters by Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media.

“Speaking to Yakura over the telephone today was heart-touching,” Billi said, adding that Pastor Yakura told him, “I am fine, thank you for your prayers and concern,” according to Musa.

Nigerian newspaper the Premium Times had reported that Pastor Yakura, an EYN pastor abducted from Pemi village near Chibok, Borno state in an Islamic terrorist attack on Christmas Eve, was freed after Christians met ransom demands.

Citing security sources, the newspaper reported that Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram freed Pastor Yakura on Wednesday evening (March 3). A Premium Times correspondent in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, reported sighting Pastor Yakura at about 6:15 p.m. as he was taken to the office of Nigeria’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Services (DSS).

The Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram, which in 2015 formally aligned with the Islamic State and changed its name to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), released a video on Feb. 25 in which the pastor said he would be executed by March 3 unless government and church officials met the kidnappers’ demands.

After watching the video in which the pastor had announced the deadline for his execution, his wife had fallen ill and his children refused to go to school, Musa reported.

An EYN church member, Kwajaffa Balamusa, also confirmed the release of Pastor Yakura in a text message to Morning Star News on Sunday (March 7), accompanied by a photo of him and the pastor after his release.

“Thank God, for our EYN pastor is alive,” Balamusa said.

The Premium Times reported that on Wednesday (March 3), when asked to speak about his freedom, Pastor Yakura kept repeating, “I thank God, I thank God.”

The Islamic State recognizes the ISWAP faction that broke away from Shekau in 2016 as its cell in the region, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and many Nigerians still refer to the Shekau-led faction of ISWAP by its original name, Boko Haram.

Efforts by the EYN and Pastor Yakura’s family resulted in his release, according to the newspaper.

Premium Times gathered from security sources that family members and the EYN church had been negotiating the release of the abducted pastor since last week,” the newspaper reported on Wednesday (March 3).

Prior to his release, Nigerian newspaper Sahara Reporters had reported that the Christian community in Borno state’s Chibok County had contributed money for ransom in order to secure the pastor’s release.

Pattern of Executions

In a video released on July 22, Islamic extremists thought to be members of ISWAP executed five Nigerian men in Borno state, with one executioner saying it was a warning to “all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity.”

On Jan. 20, 2020, Islamic terrorists executed the Rev. Lawan Andimi, district chairman of the EYN in Michika County, Adamawa state, also in northeast Nigeria.

A video released in January 2020 shows ISWAP terrorists executing Christian university student Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a member of the Church of Christ in Nations who was kidnapped on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Highway while returning to studies in Maiduguri, Borno state.

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.

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.”

 

Muslim Fulani Kill 11 Christians, Wound Two, in Nigeria

Homes burned by Fulani assailants in Bassa County, Plateau state, Nigeria in February 2021. (David Mali photo)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot four Christians to death on Sunday (Feb. 14) in north-central Nigeria, following the killing of seven other Christians earlier in the month.

Muslim Fulani herdsmen ambushed the four members of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) at about 8 p.m. in Kwall District, Bassa County of Plateau state, three of them near Ri-Bakwa village and one in Zirshe village, according to David Mali, spokesman for the Irigwe Development Association (IDA). The IDA unites the predominantly Christian, ethnic Irigwe of Plateau state.

“Irigwe nation has again been thrown into the state of grief, heart-brokenness following the unwarranted killing of four of our Christian men by the Fulani herdsmen at two villages of Kwall District, Bassa LGA of Plateau state,” Mali said in a press statement. “Four of them from Rikwe-Chongu village were ambushed along Ri-Bakwa axis near Kpachudu, and three were killed instantly while one sustained gunshot injury. The other one from Zirshe (Ntireku) was ambushed and killed instantly.”

Mali identified the slain Christians as Ezekiel Maja, 29; Emmanuel Agaba, 39; Moses Daburu, 26; and Kefas Bulus David, 31. Wounded was Bitrus Ezra, 42.

The herdsmen burned several houses and food grains worth millions of naira in Zirshe village, he said.

“Irigwe nation is our land, and no amount of evil force can compel us to relinquish it to those who hate us and our Christian faith,” Mali said. “We are known for resilience, and so we shall remain till the end of age.”

Such unprovoked violence must be stopped, and the Christian Irigwe’s decision to be a peace-loving people who will not retaliate should not be taken as an act of cowardice, Mali said.

“In the same vein, we want to call with a high tone on the authorities saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property to step up efforts in ensuring that the needful is done in terms of apprehending the culprits and absolute justice served, so as to put an end to all manners of destruction of lives and property within Irigwe nation,” he said.

The killings followed a Feb. 7 Fulani herdsmen attack on Christians in the villages of Kishosho and Zirshe in southern Kaduna state’s Kauru County, Mali said. Church elder Danlami Sunday, 40, and four other Christians were killed, he said. There are villages called Zirshe in both Kaduna state and Plateau state.

“This attack occurred around 7:30 p.m. of Sunday, Feb. 7, where Fulani Herdsmen in their numbers ambushed and killed the harmless and innocuous people of Kishosho and Zirshe communities of Kauru LGA, Kaduna state,” he said. “One sustained some degrees of injury and has been hospitalized. The five Christians were killed at Kishosho and Zirshe villages. The herdsmen also attacked Kigam village and burned foods and grains.”

In Plateau state’s Miango area, in Bassa County, Fulani herdsmen on Feb. 2 ambushed and killed two Christians on a road in Dudu village, he said. Raphael Bawa, 39, was shot dead, while Aga Mabo was shot in the chest and later died at Enos hospital, according to Mali.

“In recent times, Fulani herdsmen have killed hundreds of our people, with thousands displaced, houses razed down and farmed crops destroyed, leaving behind 200 orphans and vulnerable children, as well as 50 women widowed,” he said.

School Attack

In Niger state on Wednesday (Feb. 17), gunmen attacked a boarding high school for boys, killing a Christian student and abducting 42 people, sources said.

Benjamin Habila was killed in the attack on the Government Science College, Kagara town in Rafi County, an area resident said.

“A Christian student, Benjamin Habila, was shot dead by the bandits as he tried to escape from them, while seven other Christian students and staffs were captured alongside other non-Christian students, staff and their family members,” Justina Aliyu told Morning Star News by text message. “They were taken away at gunpoint into forests.”

The gunmen, dressed in military camouflage, attacked between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., reportedly gathering students outside and chasing and shooting those trying to escape, including Muslims.

Niger Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello said that 27 students, three staff members and 12 relatives were abducted.

A spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said armed forces and police had been directed to ensure the immediate and safe return of those abducted.

Aliyu, a Christian resident of Kagara, said the assailants were Fulani who broke into the school, shooting and raiding the staff quarters and student hostels. The statement from the governor’s office identified some among those kidnapped as Christians Philip Dodo and his wife, Hannatu Philip Dodo, Christiana Adama, Faith Adama, Shem Joshua, Ezekeil Danladi, Habakuk Augustine and Polonius Vincent.

About 1,000 students were at the school at the time of the attack.

Country with Most 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 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.

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.

Nigeria – Catholic priest brutally killed

Fr. John Gbakaan, a priest of the diocese of Minna, Nigeria. (Public domain via CNA)

(Agenzia Fides) – Fr. John Gbakaan, parish priest of the Saint Anthony Church in Gulu, in the diocese of Minna, was kidnapped and murdered on January 15 along the road from Lambata to Lapai in the state of Niger. This was confirmed yesterday, Sunday, January 17th, by the parish priest of the parish of St. Teresa in Madala, Fr. John Jatau, who announced that Fr. Gbakaan, together with his brother and another priest, had gone to Makurdi in the state of Benue on January 14th to visit his mother.

On January 15, the priest and his brother were ambushed by armed men on their way back along the road from Lambata to Lapai. The attack took place around 9 p.m. near the village of Tufa. The two brothers were abducted by armed men who turned to the diocese of Minna with a ransom demand on Saturday, January 16. Initially, the kidnappers demanded a sum of thirty million naira, which they later reduced to five million naira.

In the meantime, however, the priest’s lifeless body was found near the site of the kidnapping. Father Gbakaan was allegedly executed with a machete in such a brutal manner that identification was hardly possible. The Toyota Venza that the priest was traveling in was also found in the bush. There is still no news of his brother, who is said to be still in the hands of the kidnappers.

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, at the national level, has asked the Federal Government to put an end to the abduction and killing of religious leaders by bandits in the country. CAN’s Vice Chairman (Northern region), Rev. John Hayab, who made the call in a chat with Vanguard while reacting to the killing of a priest of the Minna Catholic diocese, Fr. John Gbakaan Yaji during the weekend, described the killing of the Catholic priest as ‘shocking and painful’, stating that insecurity in the North had assumed a more alarming dimension.

“We received the news of the kidnapped and killing of our dear Rev Father John with great shock and pains”, said Rev. Hayab. “Today in Northern Nigeria many people are living in fear and many young people are afraid to become pastors because pastors lives are in great danger”. “When bandits or kidnappers realised that their victim is a priest or a pastor it seems a violent spirit do take over their heart to demand more ransom and in some cases go to the extent of killing the victim”, he emphasized on behalf of the Association of Christian Denominations. “We are simply pleading with the Federal Government and all security agencies to do whatever it will take to bring this evil to a stop”.

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