Date: October 1, 2021
Church building and school burned down along with leader's home.
By Our Nigeria Correspondent
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Muslim mob in northern Nigeria agitated over the killing of a woman by a man they believed had converted to Christianity hacked a pastor to death with machetes last week and burned down his home, church and school, sources said.
The Rev. Yohanna Shuaibu of New Life Church in Kano state’s Massu village, Sumaila County died in the early hours of Sept. 23 after he was attacked the previous night, they said.
“The Muslims felt the young man who killed the woman in a fight is a Christian, and they likely targeted the pastor for attack because it was through the ministry of Pastor Shuaibu that many Muslims were converted to the Christian faith,” said Hosle Tongnan Michael, a friend and colleague of Pastor Shuaibu.
The pastor had taken refuge in neighboring Biri village the previous night, and on Wednesday (Sept. 22) he returned to Massu to evacuate pupils from his school as a precaution, Michael said.
“Pastor Shuaibu believed that the tension generated by the ugly incident was dowsed and thought he could stay with his family and other people in Massu,” Michael said. “However, the Muslims gathered their mob and descended on him, cut him badly with machetes and burned down his house, the church and the school.”
The pastor’s wife and children were able to flee to safety in the dark, he said. Word of the assault reached Christians in nearby villages, and they called police, who took Pastor Shuaibu to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Community tensions had begun when the young man said to have left Islam turned himself in to police after killing the Muslim woman, his brother’s wife, during an argument with her on Sept. 21, Michael said.
Area Christians in text messages to Morning Star News said Pastor Shuaibu was killed because his ministry had drawn many Muslims to convert to Christianity. He was chairman of the local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Sumaila County.
“We know that at this kind of time, it is an immeasurable risk to be a Christian, especially in the northern part of Nigeria,” Michael said. “Anyone serving Christ can’t be sure of being alive the following day in northern Nigeria.”
Pastor Shuaibu was key in building a school for indigenous Hausa Christian children, transforming young lives that were otherwise denied access to education because of their faith, Michael said.
“Under his watch, we were able to raise funds and drill boreholes from which Christian communities that were denied access to government sources of water could access water,” he added. “At one point one of the sources of water at the mosque was refurbished by us as our support to the Muslim community, which we believed would foster peace and avert some of the obvious threats against the peaceful Christian brethren.”
He noted the killing and attack on Christian institutions leave the pastor’s family destitute and the community bereft, as the pastor “all these years had been serving faithfully by faith with no money.”
“Recently we have heard of how the growth of the missionary base in Massu had been envied by the Muslims, and they wished for its uprooting from the environment for no justifiable reasons,” Michael said. “This is the story of the life of a Christian soldier, the ambassador of the Lord, who was hunted and gruesomely killed at his duty post, and his wrong was that he was a servant of the Lord.”
Leaders of the Hausa Christians Foundation (HACFO) said in a statement that the attack exemplifies the experiences of Christians in northern Nigeria.
“We are sad here, but heaven rejoice over your return,” the statement read. “The comfort of the Lord be available for your family and the entire Body of Christ. The church will continue to march on even in Kano state in the name of Jesus!”
The secular Humanist Association of Nigeria blamed the state and federal governments for the rise of Islamic extremism in northern Nigeria. Leo Igwe, chairman of the association’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement that the Kano state government failed in its duty to protect the rights, lives, privileges and property of non-Muslims.
“We express our deepest sympathies following the brutal murder of Rev. Yohanna Shuaibu by an Islamic mob in Kano,” Igwe said. “The horrific killing of this Christian pastor is another sordid illustration of Islamic extremism, hatred and intolerance in the region. Unfortunately, the Gov. Ganduje-led Islamist government has not helped matters. His government has continued to enable the oppression and persecution with impunity of minority religious and belief groups in the state.”
Abdullahi Haruna, spokesman for the Kano State Police Command, said in a statement that six persons had been arrested in connection with the killing of the pastor and of the Muslim woman.
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 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.
In this year’s 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.”