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Fulani Islamists abduct Pastor and 16 Choristers in Nigeria

West & Central Africa

Fulani Islamists abduct Pastor and 16 Choristers in Nigeria

Report by Hassan John

Rev. Zakariah Ido, Pastor of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Dankade, in Igabi local government area of Kaduna State, central Nigeria, and two of his children have been kidnapped by suspected Fulani Islamist militia, along with 14 other members of the church’s choir including the son of another pastor, whose name has not yet been given on Sunday, 19 May, at about 10 pm during a night rehearsal session.

Rev Nath Waziri, the Zaria District Church Council Secretary, in a statement, said “The church hosted a combined choir fellowship Saturday night to early hours of today. Then, this morning (Sunday), kidnappers stormed the church, when the gunmen came, they asked everyone in the church to surrender his or her phones and demanded the whereabouts of the pastor.” Rev Waziri narrated, “After threatening the choristers they became afraid and showed them the pastor’s home. They took him away and his daughter with 15 others, including the son of the pastor of Assemblies of God Church,” the District church secretary said.

Christian communities have suffered series of attacks bu Islamic Fulani Herdsmen in southern kaduna for over three years. Photo Credit: Hassan John

A witness who escaped the kidnap said “As we were in the church, Fulani herdsmen, numbering over 20 just surrounded the church and started shooting. “Everybody was terrified, but there was no way we could run because they had already surrounded the church. They were asking for the pastor’s house and they threatened to shoot us if we don’t show them the house,” the witness whose name has been retained for security reasons said.

“Some of them went to the pastor’s house while others kept watch over us. They abducted the pastor’s daughter and 14 others. Ten girls and five men were abducted,” the witness said.

Radical Islamic Fulani herdsmen militia groups have continuously attacked the Birnin Gwari and Kajuru Local Government Council since late 2018. Between February and May, the Islamists have killed over 500 people, predominantly poor Christian farmers.

In another attack, at about the same period at Guguwa-Kwate village, Rigasa community of Igabi Local Council of the state, a village leader said over 30 armed Fulani herdsmen, attacked the village and in the raid, his elder brother’s son was killed. “They entered one house and were beating people. They kidnapped one man and a woman in the house. They killed my senior brother’s son,” the village leader said, pleading anonymity.

“This is the fifth time these bandits were invading our community. About two months ago, they abducted two people in the farm. The other person was killed even after we paid them ransom,” the community leader said.

Pastors and Community leaders have been targeted by Fulani herdsmen in the attacks in middle belt region of Nigeria. Photo Credit: Hassan John

“We are helpless because there is nothing we can do other than to report to the police when such incidents happened.  We have no arms and we cannot stand them; we are just at their mercy because they are well armed and they always come in large numbers,” he said helplessly.

Nigeria ranks 3rdin the Global Terrorism index 2018only surpassed by Afghanistan and Iraq. The British foreign Secretary The British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, reactingto a recent research on the persecution of Christians globally, led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, which “estimated that one third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with Christians being the most persecuted group,” regretted that the persecution against Christians has not been confronted due to the  “political correctness” of governments.