Many Christians who were on their way to a wedding were kidnapped from buses.
Nigeria’s Abuja Last week, suspected Fulani herders abducted Christian employees traveling by bus to a wedding in southwest Nigeria, and another group of Christians were abducted while traveling to a burial in the same area.
A relative of one of the 48 Christians kidnapped from a Coaster bus on November 24 as it traveled from Ondo state to Edo state for burial claims her cousin escaped because she was battered and left for dead.
“My cousin was beaten almost to the point of death because she couldn’t walk fast,” Judith Akande told Morning Star News in a text message. “They left her thinking she was dead. She later got revived and was wandering in the bush until a man found her and took her to a pastor of the Christ Apostolic Church.”
She claimed that her cousin received medical attention, and four other hostages also managed to escape.
Akande stated that her daughter was one of the 43 hostages still being kidnapped. Please join me in praying that God will free them from the clutches of what I assume to be herdsmen.
On November 24, suspected herders in Edo State abducted 23 employees of Peace House, a Christian charity with offices in Gboko, Benue State, as they boarded a Coaster bus on their way to the son of the organization’s president’s wedding.
As they traveled from Benue state to Ilorin, Kwara state, at about 4 p.m. they were kidnapped near Ibillo town, Edo state, according to Chidi Nwabuzor, spokesman for the Edo State Command, who said police and local searchers found and rescued nine of the captives from the wilderness. Nwabuzor added that the bus passengers were kidnapped while on the Lagos-Abuja Road in the Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo state.
The number of passengers retrieved rose to 14 the next day, on Friday (Nov. 25), when the searchers discovered five more in the forest.
Two of the abducted church employees and the bus driver reported the crime after fleeing as their captors marched them into the forest, according to ministry associate Segun Ariyo in a text message to Morning Star News. Prayers were requested for the other prisoners, their families, and Peace House President Gbile Akanni.
“Please mobilize other Christians within your circles of influence to pray for the release of our brethren,” Ariyo said. “Let us also pray for our father, brother Gbile Akanni, his wife, the couple-to-be, and all the elders of Peace House for faith, wisdom, courage and patience at this critical hour. We know how critical this time is for him.”
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.
As desertification has made it harder for them to maintain their herds, Christian leaders in Nigeria have said that they think the herdsmen’s attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are motivated by their desire to annex Christians’ lands and impose Islam.
According to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report, Nigeria topped the world in the number of Christians murdered for their faith between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, with 4,650 deaths, up from 3,530 the year before. According to the WWL report, Nigeria had the largest number of kidnapped Christians, at over 2,500, up from 990 the year before.
With 470 incidents, Nigeria ranked second only to China in the number of church attacks.
Nigeria rose from No. 9 the previous year to seventh place in the 2022 World Watch List of the nations where it is most difficult to be a Christian, which is its highest placement ever.