Date: October 4, 2023
19 abducted in Kaduna state, 25 taken off bus in Ondo state.
By Our Nigeria Correspondent
Christians who escaped after Sept. 29, 2023 kidnapping in Ondo state, Nigeria, at police station. (Christ Apostolic Church)
ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Terrorists on Saturday (Sept. 30) killed one Christian and abducted 19 others in northern Nigeria, a day after gunmen in the country’s southwest intercepted a church bus and kidnapped 25 members.
The assailants on Saturday invaded Kaduna state’s predominantly Christian Angwan Waku village, in the Kufana area of Kajuru County, at 12 a.m., an area resident said.
“A Christian villager was killed during the incident, and 19 other Christians, who include women and children, were kidnapped by the terrorists,” said Ben Yunana in a text message to Morning Star News.
Area resident Tanimu Makaddas, an assistant to the Kufana area leader, identified the slain villager as Kukah Yari.
“Another villager, Aboki Dogo, was shot and wounded,” Makaddas told Morning Star News in a text message. “He’s currently being treated at a hospital.”
Makkaddas identified those kidnapped as Yakubu Abba, Basiru Maiwada, Keziya Silas, Peace Silas, Lami Istifanus, Habila Musa, Bege Liazarus, Joshua Abuki, Juliana Habila, Stella Yohanna, Genesis Ezikiel, Deborah Ezikiel, Salomi Dutse, Rifkatu Zaphaniah, Tamar Liazarus, Ejah Habila, Rejoice Ezikeil, Catharine Silas and Gundu Rubu.
The southern part of Kaduna state, inhabited mainly by Christians, has been under constant attacks from Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists for more than a decade.
In southwest Nigeria’s Ondo state, 17 of 25 church members kidnapped on Friday (Sept. 29) remain in captivity after eight escaped their captors, police said.
The members of a Pentecostal church in the Oke Igan area of the city of Akure, Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), were on their way to Ifon, Ose County, for a funeral when the terrorists intercepted their bus, said church member Sunday Emmanuel.
“Twenty-five of them were inside the bus travelling through Ifon road when the gunmen stopped their vehicle and marched them inside the bush,” Emmanuel told Morning Star News in a text message, saying eight of them later escaped.
Church leaders confirmed the escape of eight members, saying the terrorists had demanded 50 million naira (US$64,770) for the release of those remaining in captivity. Pastor Benjamin Akanmu, regional superintendent of CAC in Odubanjo, Ondo state, said the church choir was en route to Ifon for a Christian wake for the late father of the church organist.
“At about 4 p.m. on Friday, someone called me that a bus belonging to the church was seen abandoned by the roadside around Elegbeka, and nobody was inside,” Pastor Akanmu said. “The caller said he suspects the passengers have been kidnapped and so we started contacting our members and security agencies. One of those in captivity called to inform me that their abductors are demanding the sum of 50 million naira as ransom. One of the abductors also took the phone from him and said we must provide the 50 million naira immediately if we indeed love our members.”
Adetunji Adeleye, commander of Amotekun, a paramilitary security group in Ondo state, issued a statement on Saturday (Sept. 30) saying the captives had been herded into thick forest near Ifon.
“Eight of the kidnapped Christians, including a nurse, have been rescued after they escaped from the kidnappers’ den,” Adeleye said, adding that personnel from the police, army and other security agencies were searching for the captive Christians.
Police in Ondo state on Saturday (Sept. 30) issued a statement. Olufunmilayo Odunlami-Omisanya, superintendent of police, said that the church members on the bus had been accosted by “five gunmen who shot sporadically and forcefully took them into the bush.”
The church members who escaped were seven women and one man, he said.
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.
In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.
“Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery,” the WWL report noted. “This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation… Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”
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 2020 report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP 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.