Date:  November 10, 2023

Nigeria (International Christian Concern) — A Christian woman and mother of five children, Rhoda Ya’u Jatau, has been detained and quarantined for five months since her arrest in May 2022 on questionable charges of blasphemy and incitement in Bauchi State of Nigeria’s Northeast Region.

Elizabeth Kendal, publisher of the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin from Australia, noted that the prosecution completed its argument but the defense has not been able to testify—because every time the defense comes to present its case, the court postpones the trial to a future date out of fear that the local population, which is 85 percent Muslim, may riot.

Solomon Dalyop Mwantiri, a human rights activist from Plateau State, traveled to Bauchi to check proceedings. “The postponement appears to be a tactical delay to keep Jatau in continued remand. A religious agenda of Christian persecution is being played out,” Mwantiri told Christian Solidarity International.” The defense is now scheduled to present its case on November 27.

The case stems from a Ghanian convert condemning the lynching of a Christian student, Deborah Emmanuel, in Sokoto, a city in northwest Nigeria, on May 12, 2022. Eight days later, Jatau sent a copy of the two-minute video via a supposedly secure platform to a group of staff at the Primary healthcare Board where she worked.

Muslim staff became enraged by the video and accused Jatau of blasphemy (never mind the murder) and mobilized local youths to find her. When they could not, a 200-strong mob stormed the area, vandalized Christian businesses, and burned Christian homes and the Evangelical Church Winning All church building, leaving 15 Christians injured.

Jatau’s family went into hiding and her husband sold all his belongings to finance his wife’s defense.

Judges overseeing the case have repeatedly refused to grant Jatau bail on the grounds that it would likely trigger a fresh wave of destructive radical Islamic rioting.

“The more you try to speak, the more you fall victim to situations like that of Rhoda, because they know they are the ones in control of the government and law enforcement,” said Rev. Ishaku Dano, overseer of the ECWA church in Katanga.

Urgently pray for Rhoda Jatau and her trial scheduled for November 27. — J. Lindner.

HOW TO PRAY: Pray for all unjust charges to be dropped. Pray for freedom for this woman as her November 27 trial approaches. Pray for provision for her family as they face financial hardship.