Tuesday, August 4, 2020

RLPB 561. Nigeria (1): Christian Crisis in Kaduna

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 561 | Wed 05 Aug 2020
RLPB is published weekly to facilitate strategic intercessory prayer

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Part 2 will be the subject of next week's RLPB 562
By Elizabeth Kendal

Nigeria's Sharia divide
(click on map to enlarge)
Despite its location in the North-West Region of Northern Nigeria and also being one of 12 states ruled (unconstitutionally) by Sharia Law, Kaduna State actually straddles Nigeria's ethnic-religious fault-line. The north is predominantly Hausa-Fulani Muslim whilst the south is populated by numerous ethnic groups that are predominantly Christian. On Sunday 2 August the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna State held a prayer and protest event in response to the violence ravaging southern Kaduna - violence that is escalating despite a 24-hour curfew. The 'Black Sunday' event was held at the ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) church in Narayi, a suburb on the south-eastern edge of Kaduna City. Outside, the protesters displayed banners bearing messages such as 'stop the killings in Southern Kaduna', 'CAN says no to continued killings', 'enough of the bloodshed', 'widows and orphans are increasing', and more. The CAN Chairman of Kaduna State chapter, the Reverend John Joseph Hayab, said this prayer event will continue every Sunday through the month of August.

Kaduna State (southern states labeled)
(click on map to enlarge)
The following attacks all occurred in predominantly Christian Local Government Areas (LGAs) of southern Kaduna. On 9 July at around 11:30pm, Fulani militants stormed two communities in Zangon-Kataf LGA. Upon hearing that an attack was imminent, primary school teacher Mr. James Enoch (36) urged the women in his family to take the children and flee to a neighbouring community while he and other men went to the outskirts. Unbeknown to Mr Enoch, his family remained in the village, in the home of his cousin. Upon arrival, the militants went house to house attacking villagers in their beds, killing 24, wounding many others and setting homes on fire. Mr. Enoch lost seven members of his family that night: his wife, his stepmother, three of his siblings, his brother's wife and her baby were all hacked or burnt to death. Security agencies had been alerted, but to no avail. More than 1000 people are currently residing at the Mercy internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp run by local church members in the nearby town of Zonkwa. Camp coordinator, Reverend Gambo Waziri, reports having 'about 15 pregnant women, 153 nursing mothers and victims who survived the carnage with bullet wounds, responding to treatments in some of the hospitals'.

On 16 July Fulani militants attacked several villages in Kachia LGA, killing four residents and abducting 32. On 17 July Fulani militants murdered Mr Ayuba Bulus on his farm in Kajuru LGA. Later that day, they looted and destroyed a property in the nearby Efele settlement, killing Gloria Shagari (25) and her children Dorcas (6) and Faith (3), as well as Ayuba Bulus (40) and Hussaini Daudu (40). Another victim, Baptist church leader Reverend Thomas Gambo, remains in hospital in a critical condition. On Sunday 19 July at around 10.30 pm, Fulani militants armed with guns and machetes attacked a wedding reception at a home in Kaura LGA, killing 18 and wounding 31. This was only one of several attacks in Kaura LGA that night. On 20 July at around 7pm, nine people were killed and an unknown number wounded when Fulani militants attacked another village in Zangon-Kataf LGA. On 24 July at around 7pm, ten people were killed when Fulani militants attacked Zikpak town in Jema'a LGA. The dead include ECWA pastor, the Rev Shamah Kuyet Ishaya, Daniel Bala (49) who was walking home from church choir practice, and a five-year-old boy named Joel Cephas.

Mourning the dead, Zikpak (24 July 2020)
source: the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU);
for this and more images: France 24

On 23 July hundreds of Atyap women [the Atyap being the indigenous people of the Zangon-Kataf, Kaura and Jema'a LGAs] demonstrated at Atak Njei Agwam Atyap palace [the palace of the traditional ruler of Atyap people] in Zangon-Kataf to express their sorrow and anger over the massacres. The women describe their communities as being 'under siege by herdsmen' and wonder why the government is not doing anything to protect them. 'Our husbands, children and relations are being slaughtered like rams on a daily basis, and this government is just watching. Our lives don't matter to this government. We can't go to our farms, we can't go to the markets, and we are not safe even in our homes. So where do we run?' The women lamented that they have become refugees in their own land, saying many of the villagers were moving to IDP camps for their own safety.

When Fulani militants attacked Kajuru LGA in early June, they killed all of Mrs Azumi Boka’s eleven children. The blind 93-year-old recounts her ordeal through streams of tears. ‘I am one of the oldest women in our community’, she says. ‘I have never experienced such calamity. I never knew someday I will wake-up being chase away from my ancestral land by Fulani herdsmen whom we have lived with for decades. Why am I even alive? Should I blame God for allowing this kind of calamity to befall me? Why me God?’

'Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children ...' (from Lamentations 2:19 ESV)


* counsel, comfort and sustain Nigeria's suffering Church, particularly those who are this day grieving the loss of loved ones, nursing physical and psychological wounds, lamenting loss of security and struggling between doubt and faith, despair and hope. Lord, have mercy.

* intervene in Nigeria and especially at this time in Kaduna where insecurity and violence are particularly severe; may a revived Church keep trusting her God; and may the Lord establish justice, righteousness and peace in the land, and empower those who would 'turn back the battle at the gate' (Isaiah 28:5-6 ESV).

* bless and protect all who risk much to share the Gospel with Hausa-Fulani Muslims as the Lord Jesus Christ continues to build his Church in Nigeria's volatile North and Middle Belt.


Kaduna State straddles Nigeria's ethnic-religious fault-line. The north is predominantly Hausa-Fulani Muslim while southern Kaduna is populated by numerous predominantly Christian ethnic groups. Fulani militant attacks on villages in southern Kaduna have escalated markedly. In July alone, more than 120, mostly Christian villagers, were killed - shot, hacked or burnt to death, often in their beds. Many more have been wounded. Thousands of villagers have been displaced and are now being cared for in church-run camps. Despite the southern regions being under a 24-hour curfew, Fulani militants move freely, murdering, terrorising and ethnically cleansing at will; nobody is ever arrested! Neither the government nor the security services seem willing or able to provide security. Southern Kaduna's imperilled and traumatised Christians need our prayers. Please pray for the Church in Nigeria.


Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF) and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).

See www.ElizabethKendal.com