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Nigeria: Christians Killed, Kidnapped in Attack on Worship Service

These brutal killings are designed to terrorize the Christians in the area into fleeing, leaving the region to the killers. The reasoning behind these abductions is that the hostages can be either enslaved, exchanged for ransom payments, or killed if neither of the other two options is viable. The abductions are carried out on a strictly sectarian basis. Meanwhile, as with the persecution of Christians in Nigeria in general, the government does little or nothing to stop this activity.

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, once again urgently implores the United Nations and the governments of all nations that are committed to human rights and religious freedom to make the plight of Nigeria’s Christians a top priority. 

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Nigeria from ChristianPersecution.com, see here.

“Christians Killed, Kidnapped in Attack on Worship Service,” Morning Star News, April 27, 2021:

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked a Baptist worship service in north-central Nigeria on Sunday (April 25), killing one Christian, wounding another and abducting five others, sources said.

“The Fulani herdsmen came to our village as the church service was going on,” Yakubu Bala of Haske Baptist Church in Manini Tasha village, Kaduna state, told Morning Star News by text message. “They surrounded the church and started shooting. They came at about 9 a.m., and they rode on motorcycles. They shot at us randomly and at anyone they sighted.”

Bala said his uncle, Zakariah Dogonyaro, a medical doctor with the Kaduna State Ministry of Health, was shot dead and five worshippers were kidnapped in the attack in Chikun County, in the central part of the state.

Among those abducted were Bala’s sister-in-law, stepmother and niece, he said.

A police spokesman, Mohammed Jalige, said in a press statement that in addition to the instant death of Dogonyaro, a man identified as Shehu Haruna was hospitalized for gunshot wounds, and that preliminary investigation found four people were missing and presumed abducted.

The Rev. Caleb Ma’aji, secretary of the Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), expressed condolences to family members of the deceased, the church and the Nigeria Baptist Convention and sadness over the inability of the Nigerian government to protect Christians.

“We wonder, what is the crime of innocent citizens, and how come the terrorists appear more free and protected than the citizens?” Ma’aji said in a press statement. “This is a challenge to the government; indeed a government that is unable to guarantee the safety of its citizens and their properties will be best termed a failed government.”

Kidnapping and other crimes have “hijacked” the country, especially Kaduna state, he said….

Two Christian women were among five students killed after suspected Fulani herdsmen kidnapped them and 18 others on April 20 from 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 Kaduna city suburb of Kwanan Bature village, close to the private university located in Kasarami, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Kaduna city, Chikun County, according to a statement from the university registrar.

The statement said the students were killed in spite of efforts by institution officials to secure their release.

“Efforts have been made to secure the release of these staff and students, which have not yielded the desired results,” the officials said. “There were two female and one male casualties. Further, a ransom of 800 million naira [US$2 million] has been demanded for our abducted staff and students.”

The bodies of two more students, unidentified, who were kidnapped from the university were discovered on Monday (April 26), a state official said….

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.

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 WWL report. 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.”…

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