ABUJA, Nigeria — Gunmen early Wednesday kidnapped a pastor and two other Christians in Jos East County, Plateau state, Nigeria, sources said.
The Rev. Usman Umaru of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) was kidnapped at about 5:40 a.m. when the gunmen broke into his home on the ECWA premises, said area resident Michael Madaki.
“Armed terrorists invaded the Maigyemu community in Jos East Local Government Area of Plateau state,” Madaki told Morning Star News in a text message. “The terrorists broke into the premises ECWA Church, Nuku village and kidnapped the pastor, Usman Umaru.”
Madaki named the other two Christians kidnapped as Agwom Dauda and a woman identified only as Sarah.
Alfred Alabo, spokesman for the Plateau State Police Command, confirmed the kidnapping of the three Christians and said officers had been deployed to the area.
There have been prior attacks on Christians in Jos East Local Government Area. In July, five Christians were killed in attacks on Zangam and Kayarda communities in Maigyemu District. Among those slain were Agada Sambo of Zangam village and Azi of Kayarda. Another Christian, Luka Izang, was kidnapped but released after his family paid a ransom.
On Jan. 20, an area community leader, Isaac Wakili, was kidnapped from his house in the Shere area of Jos East Local Government Area at about 3 a.m. Security agents later rescued him.
Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.
In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.
“Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery,” the WWL report noted. “This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation. … Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”
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 2020 report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP 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.
SOURCE: Christian post