Attacks on Denomination by Kidnappers Occur in Two Regions of Nigeria
Morning Star News – ABUJA, Nigeria, September 22nd, 2022 On September 17th, suspected Fulani herdsmen kidnapped scores of Christians during a church service in northwest Nigeria, less than a week after abducting almost 60 members of the same religion in the country’s north-central region.
Sometime after 2 a.m. on Saturday, September 17th, suspected herdsmen and other terrorists stormed the nighttime service at the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Suleja, Niger state, and abducted the pastor and other Christians, according to locals.
According to local resident Nathaniel Ade, the congregation was having an all-night prayer vigil at the church site in the Japap region of Suleja at the time of the assault by Fulani herders. Fulani herders, who are mostly Muslim, have been named as the perpetrators of the attacks by another local resident, Elisha Musa.
Musa told Morning Star News via text message that “the Fulani herders abducted the pastor of the church and several of his congregants.” Hours after the assailants had gone with the abducted victims, soldiers from Zuma Rock Barracks in Suleja raced to the church to rescue worshipers and resist the terrorists.
The abducted priest Leo Raphael Ozigi was freed after a ransom was paid, but the Rev. Raphael Opawoye, secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Niger State Chapter, warned that assaults on Christians in Niger and other states in northwest Nigeria had continued unabated.
For two days in March, Opawoye informed Morning Star News through text message, “the residents of Sarkin Pawa town and several localities in Munya Local Government Area of Niger state were under assault by the terrorists and herdsmen.” Reverend Fr. Leo Raphael Ozigi, a Catholic priest, was abducted on March 27. He had been in Gwada town ministering at one of his parishes, and was on his way back to Sarkin Pawa town when he was taken. The Catholic priest’s loved ones had to pay a hefty ransom to the thugs and criminals who had kidnapped him.
Abductions in the State of Kaduna
On September 13 and 14, at least 57 Christians were kidnapped in the Kaduna state of north-central Nigeria by suspected Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists. However, as many as 14 of the Christians were able to make a quick escape.
The Rev. John Joseph Hayab, head of the CAN in Kaduna state, said that at least 43 Christians were still being held hostage after the attack in Kasuwan Magani town, Kajuru County.
Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) head Awemi Maisamari claimed in a news release that Christian families have also been targeted for abduction.
According to Maisamari, “there is still no breathing room for Christian villages in southern Kaduna,” as terrorists, jihadists, bandits, and armed herders have continued to raid and ruin Christian towns in the southern portion of Kaduna state.
Located around 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Kaduna, Kasuwan Magani is a small town in Nigeria. According to him, six persons were kidnapped on September 12 during a raid on the Ungwan Fada neighborhood of Kasuwan Magani.
According to Maisamari, “with no safeguards put in place to prevent repetition,” terrorists attacked the Cherubim and Seraphim Church at approximately midnight on September 13 during a night vigil program in the Bayan Kasuwa quarters area of Kasuwan Magani town. More than sixty Christians were abducted from the church and nearby homes. Some were too young, too old, or had health problems, so they could not all be removed.
Two additional Christians were kidnapped when the herders and other terrorists were transporting their hostages to their camps from Janwuriya hamlet, another mostly Christian settlement near Kasuwan Magani.
As of today, September 19th, Maisamari reports that 45 Christians have been kidnapped by terrorists. Yet on Sunday, September 18th, their kidnappers phoned several of the town’s residents and told them that they were only holding 40 people.
He further said that the terrorists are asking for a ransom of 200 million naira (US$465,294) and that it is likely that the kidnappers claimed to have 40 prisoners since they had already murdered five of them.
In southwest Nigeria, another Cherubim and Seraphim Church was targeted this month. Residents of Ogun state, Nigeria, claim that on September 2, members of a local animist cult set fire to a church where Christians were conducting a prayer vigil.
It has been reported that numerous Christians were wounded in the assault on the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in the Agbado neighborhood.
According to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report, from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021, 4,650 Christians were murdered because of their beliefs in Nigeria, making it the country with the highest number of Christian deaths worldwide. According to the WWL research, Nigeria also had the largest number of Christian abductions, at over 2,500, compared to only 990 in the previous year.
The research found that Nigeria had the second-highest number of church attacks, behind China, with 470.
Previously ranked at No. 9, Nigeria moved up to No. 7 on the World Watch List of the 10 nations where it is most difficult to be a Christian in 2022.