Suspected Fulani shepherds attacked a Baptist cult in north-central Nigeria on Sunday (April 25), killing one Christian, injuring another and kidnapping five others, sources said.
âThe Fulani shepherds came to our village while the religious service was taking placeâ, Yakubu Bala de Haske Baptist Church in the village of Manini Tasha, Kaduna state, Recount Morning Star News by text message. âThey surrounded the church and started shooting. They arrived around 9 a.m. and got on motorcycles. They shot us at random and at anyone they saw.
Bala said his uncle, Zakariah Dogonyaro, a doctor at the Kaduna state health ministry, was shot and five faithful kidnapped in the attack in Chikun County, in the central part of the state.
Among those abducted were Bala’s sister-in-law, mother-in-law and niece, he said.
Police spokesman Mohammed Jalige said in a press release that in addition to Dogonyaro’s instantaneous death, a man identified as Shehu Haruna was hospitalized with gunshot wounds, and that the preliminary investigation revealed that four people were missing and presumed kidnapped.
Reverend Caleb Ma’aji, Secretary of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), expressed its condolences to the family members of the deceased, to the church and to the Nigeria Baptist Convention and sadness over the failure of the Nigerian government to protect Christians.
âWe ask ourselves what is the crime of innocent citizens, and how is it that terrorists seem more free and protected than citizensMa’aji said in a press release. “This is a challenge for the government; indeed, a government which is unable to guarantee the security of its citizens and their properties will be better characterized as a failed government.”
Kidnappings and other crimes have “hijacked” the country, especially Kaduna state, he said.
âThe Kaduna state government and the federal government should stop making noise about insecurity and simply act now, before Nigerians have no choice but to turn to self-help, âhe said.
Samuel Aruwan, State Commissioner for Homeland Security and Internal Affairs, said Governor Nasir El-Rufai strongly denounced the attack “as a shocking act by depraved people far removed from humanity.”
“The governor added that attacking innocent worshipers who were exercising their natural and legal right to come together to worship was the worst kind of evil,” Aruwan said. “The governor sent his sincere condolences to the families of the deceased and the Haske Baptist Church.
Two Christian women were among five students killed after suspected Fulani shepherds kidnapped them and 18 others on April 20 at Greenfield University, also in Kaduna state, sources said.
The bodies of Dorathy Tirnom Yohanna and Precious Nwakacha and a third male student were found on April 23 in the suburb of Kaduna town of Kwanan Bature village, near the private university in Kasarami, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Kaduna Town, Chikun County, according to a statement from the university registrar.
Funeral notice for Christian student abducted and killed in Chikun County, Kaduna state, Nigeria. / Morning Star News
The statement said the students were killed despite efforts by officials at the institution to secure their release.
“Efforts have been made to secure the release of these staff and students, which have not yielded the expected results,” officials said. âThere were two women and one man. In addition, a ransom of 800 million naira [US$2 million] has been demanded for our staff and our abducted students.
The bodies of two other, unidentified students who were abducted from the university were discovered on Monday April 26, a state official said.
Sim Yohanna, sister of Dorathy Yohanna, lamented her death in a text message to Morning Star News: “My family is devastated to see my sister’s lifeless body. Our hearts are broken by this incident. Our peace is broken!
Yohanna’s brother-in-law Yamai David said in a text to Morning Star News that more of the remaining kidnapped students could be killed if the ransom demands were not met.
âWhat is the sole responsibility of a government to the people? ” he said. “Do we deserve to live and die like this in our own country?”
Jonathan Asake, president of the South Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), said kidnappings take place daily in the state.
âThe schools are not safe, the roads are not safe,â Asake said in a press release. âKidnappings have become so rampant. So I think the federal government should declare a state of emergency in Kaduna state.
Nigeria topped the world in number of Christians kidnapped last year with 990, according to the Open Doors Global Watchlist 2021 report. In the 2021 list of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria made its first entry into the top 10, dropping from 12th to 9th place the year before.
Nigeria was the country with the highest number of Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to the WWL report. In general violence, Nigeria was just behind Pakistan, and it only followed China in the number of churches attacked or closed., 270, according to the list.
They number in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, mainly Fulani Muslims include hundreds of clans of different lineages who do not have extremist views, but some Fulani adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.
âThey adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intention to target Christians and powerful symbols of Christian identity, âsays the APPG report.
Nigeria’s Christian leaders said they believed the shepherds’ attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s central belt were inspired by their desire to forcibly seize Christian lands and impose Islam as desertification made it difficult for them to support their herds.
The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be ignored.
“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to remedy the behavior of his compatriots in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
The US State Department added on December 7 Nigeria to its list of countries of particular concern for having committed or tolerated “systematic, continuous and flagrant violations of the freedom of religion”. 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-Grand Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Taliban as “entities of particular concern”.
On December 10, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.
Posted in: Evangelical focus – world
– Nigeria: Christians killed, kidnapped during an attack on a Baptist cult