Date: October 4, 2021
Four others slain in attacks in Kogi state.
By Our Nigeria Correspondent
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A kidnapped Christian in Kogi state, Nigeria was killed in a rescue operation on Saturday (Oct. 2), the same day three other Christians were killed in another attack in the state, sources said.
Julius Oshadumo, 78 years old and one of three Christians kidnapped on Sept. 19 from their Evangelical Church Winning All church in Okedayo-Kabba, on the outskirts of Kabba, died when Nigerian security forces stormed the enclave of the Fulani herdsmen who abducted them, area sources said.
One of the abducted Christians sustained gunshot wounds and was rescued by security forces; he is receiving hospital treatment, according to William Aya, police spokesman in Kogi State. The other Christian, unidentified, remains in captivity, according to police.
In the Sept. 19 attack, church member Reuben Gbenga, 45, was shot dead, and Oshadumo’s wife was seriously wounded, said church pastor Matthew Atayi, who sustained a minor injury. Pastor Atayi said he was leading the service when the armed herdsmen forced their way into the church building and began to shoot.
“There were six armed herdsmen who stormed the church while I was conducting the call to worship, and they were shooting randomly,” Pastor Atayi said in a text message to Morning Star News. “They disrupted the worship service as members of the church scampered to escape.”
He fled alongside other church members, he said.
“One of the gunmen chased after me and was shooting at me,” Pastor Atayi said. “Miraculously, I escaped with no serious injuries. I only returned after the gunmen had retreated from my church.”
Upon returning, he found Oshadumo’s wife “had grave gunshots wounds and was bleeding,” Atayi said. She is still receiving hospital treatment.
The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of 10 million naira (US$24,315) for Oshadumo’s release, but his family said they could raise only 2 million naira (US$4,863), and the herdsmen rejected the offer and opted to keep him captive, according to his wife.
Three Others Killed
In Okene, Kogi state, Fulani herdsmen killed three Christians in an attack on Saturday (Oct. 2), area residents said.
Two brothers, 26-year-old Monday Adamu and Ugede Adamu, 23, were among those killed, said area resident Sunday Samuel.
“The three Christians were murdered at about 1 a.m. when the herdsmen attacked our community,” Samuel said in a text message to Morning Star News. “The two brothers killed by the herdsmen are my cousins, while the third victim killed is our neighbor, Matthew Ojedumu.”
In Ayingba, Kogi state on Sept. 27, armed herdsmen kidnapped a Christian professor, John Alabi, Samuel said. Head of Management Sciences Faculty at Kogi State University, Alabi was reportedly seized from his house in Ayingba town.
Samuel said the herdsmen have demanded Alabi’s family pay a ransom of 20 million naira (US$48,629) or he would be killed.
Police spokesmen Aya confirmed the attacks on the church and the kidnappings and said reports of the killing of the three Christians in Okene are under investigation.
Nigeria led the world in number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report. Nigeria was also 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.