Nigerian Church Members kidnapped, “nation is on fire” says Senator.
Four women were kidnapped, one person killed and another injured during an April attack on a church in Nigeria’s southern Kaduna state.
On Sunday, 25 April, suspected Fulani militants attacked the Baptist church in Manini village, Chikun Local Government Area, while the morning service was under way. They killed one and injured another church member and abducted four women, among them a widow whose husband was killed in an earlier attack, CSW reported.
The incident took place five days after armed men stormed Greenfield University in the same locality, killing one staff member and abducting 22 students and staff members. The abductors demanded a ransom of N800 million (approximately $2.5 Million), threatening to kill hostages. So far, the bodies of five of the hostages have been found.
Kaduna has seen an increase in kidnappings since late 2020. Between 15 February and 12 March almost 1,100 people were kidnapped across Nigeria, compared to 240 in the same time period a year ago.
Schools are targeted frequently; more than 700 students have been kidnapped from their schools since December, Reuters reported.
The violence has interrupted the education millions of children. Schools have closed and some parents are too afraid to send their children to school. UNICEF estimates that in 2020, 47% of children were out of school in northern Nigeria, an already educationally marginalised region.
No tangible results
On 6 May Reuters reported that 29 students who had been abducted from Kaduna's Federal College of Forestry and Mechanization were released after a ransom was paid. Armed men attacked the school on 12 March and took 39 children. Since then they had released ten of them.
Meanwhile the parents of more than 100 girls abducted from Chibok in 2014, and of teenager Leah Sharibu, kidnapped in 2018, are still waiting for their return.
Leah, 18, was taken from her school by the militant group Boko Haram and, unlike her fellow students, was not allowed to return home, reportedly because she refused to denounce her Christian faith.
In February, her parents wrote an open letter about their grief, reminding President Muhammadu Buhari of a promise he made to Leah’s mother in 2018.
‘The nation is on fire’
In the light of the increased insecurity in different parts of the country, which the military is struggling to get a handle on, Nigeria’s parliamentarians have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency.
"The nation is on fire," Smart Adeyemi, a senator in Buhari's ruling party, told Reuters. "The president must rise to the occasion and bring in people to save this country or else we will be consumed. We cannot keep quiet any longer."
An Open Doors spokeswoman said the organization is extremely concerned about the volatile situation in Africa’s largest economy. This year the country entered the top 10 of the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.
The attacks by opportunistic criminal groups adds another security threat to what Nigerians face on a daily basis already at the hands of the Islamist Boko Haram group and mostly-Fulani Islamist militants, said Jo Newhouse, spokesperson for Open Doors Sub-Saharan Africa. “We will be watching these developments closely,” she said. “Please remain in prayer for Nigeria.”