Date:  October 27, 2023

Motive of attack unclear.

By Our Nigeria Correspondent

Stephen Angbas was killed on Oct. 17, 2023 in Nasarawa state. (Morning Star News)

Stephen Angbas was killed on Oct. 17, 2023 in Nasarawa state. (Peter Anthony)

ABUJA, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Christian doctor was killed in a machete attack on him and his motorcycle driver on Oct. 17 in Nasarawa state, Nigeria, sources said.

Terrorists attacked Dr. Stephen Angbas, head of Angbas Hospital in the town of Lafia, at about 4 p.m. as he was returning from his farm in Awe County, in the southern part of the state, said area resident Jackson Habila in a text message to Morning Star News.

Angbas was a member of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ, Habila said.

Police spokesman Rahman Nansel of the Nasarawa State Police Command said in a press statement that Angbas’ commercial motorcycle driver, Mikailu Dahiru, was wounded in the attack along Jangargari-Awe Road.

Eyewitnesses informed Punch news outlet that the assailants attacked them with machetes, and that Dahiru was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment of severe wounds.

It was unclear if the attack was religiously motivated, although the gruesome nature of the attack was similar to that of Nigerian terrorist attacks on Christians. Punch indicated robbery may have been the motive, though neither media nor police indicated any money was stolen.

Nasarawa state has suffered increasing attacks by Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists who have moved into the state. From April 24 to April 29, Fulani herdsmen killed 12 Christian farmers in Ajimaka, Doma County in attack there and in 13 other villages.

By mid-March, armed attacks by Fulani herdsmen on predominantly Christian communities in Nasarawa state had left more than 200 people dead and destroyed homes and farms, according to Nasarawa-based Ajiri Afo Development Association.

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.