JOS, Nigeria, February 23, 2021 (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen killed a church elder and abducted three other Christians in northwest Nigeria on Feb. 16, sources said.
Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot dead Mati Sani, a 65-year-old elder with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), in an attack on the predominantly Muslim village of Kadabuki Dan-Marabu, Kankara County, Katsina state at about 1 a.m., said his son, the Rev. Ali Mati.
Pastor Mati told Morning Star News “Fulani bandits” also abducted Ibrahim Lawal, Mamar Rahila and Hafsat Yusuf, besides shooting and wounding Danjuma Sani Mati, who was receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Center in the city of Katsina. The victims are all Christians who are related to each other, he said.
Sani served as an ECWA Kankara Local Church Council delegate to the ECWA Katsina District Church Council.
“He served as a lay leader in the church for over 35 years at different capacities,” Pastor Mati said.
The ECWA church in Kadabuki Dan-Marabu where Sani served has about 150 members, the pastor said.
Kankara County was the scene of the Dec. 11 kidnapping of students by Fulani herdsmen at a public high school, the Government Secondary School, Kankara. The Katsina state government and the federal government paid a ransom for the release of the students.
Nigeria was 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 Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List. 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.
Nigeria led the world in number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990, according to the WWL report. In the 2021 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 Islamic State West Africa Province (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.
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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.
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