Evangelical Pastor Kidnapped by Fulani Herdsmen in Nigeria, Denomination Says

(Photo: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)Fulani herdsmen pose for a picture in Zango, Zango-kataf local govt, Kaduna State, Nigeria, in March 22, 2014.

A Nigerian evangelical denominational leader has been kidnapped and is now being held for ransom by suspected Fulani herdsmen, Nigerian media outlets are reporting.

The Nigerian media networks reported on Monday that the national headquarters of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), which has about 5 million members nationwide and is one of the biggest Christian denominations in Nigeria, issued a release explaining that the Rev. Jen Moses was kidnapped last Friday evening upon returning to the capital city of Abuja from Jos in the Plateau State.

Additionally, the captors, believed to be seven young Fulani herdsmen, have demanded a ransom equivalent to nearly $275,000 for Moses, who serves as ECWA's Christian education director.

During the attack, Moses' driver was shot and injured and has received treatment at a nearby hospital.

Yunusa Nmadu, ECWA's general secretary, confirmed Moses' abduction. According to Pulse, Nmadu told reporters that Moses' captors called church officials to demand the ransom.

"The kidnappers were seven Fulani boys; they were below 20 years," Nmadu said. "The incident happened on Friday night between 8 and 9 pm. Rev. Jen Moses was on his way from Jos to Abuja around Jere-Bwari Road."

Nmadu continued by stating that the kidnappers demanded 100 million Nigerian naira for Moses's freedom.

"The driver was advised to obtain the police report before he was treated," Nmadu explained.

Anjuguri Manzah, a spokesperson for the local Federal Capital Territory police command in Bwari, told the media that he had yet to receive notice of the pastor's kidnapping.

"We have not received any report of such an incident. Yes, at that end, Bwari is a very big point and the biggest town," Manzah explained. "So, oftentimes, people describe everywhere as Bwari which shares the boundary with different states."

Nmadu assured that the incident was reported at a police station in the Bwari area.

"We will rather keep what we have been doing now to ourselves so that we don't jeopardize investigation and efforts being made to secure his release," Nmadu said. "We will speak to the press after securing his release."

Attacks by Fulani herdsmen on Christians in Nigeria are not a new phenomenon.

"These attacks started in 2010, when some Fulani gunman invaded a village in Plateau state and sacked the whole community and killed about 500 people — children, women and men — in one night," Nmadu, who is also the CEO of Christian Solidarity Worldwide's branch in Nigeria, told Christian Today.

"Usually, what they do is come into a community in the night while people are sleeping. A few of the gunmen go into the centre of the village and begin to shoot sporadically. When people wake up, they are rounded up and people who try and run away are killed because they have gunmen stationed on the outskirts of the village."

Last year, it was reported that Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria killed close to 500 predominantly Christian farmers in Benue state through a series of attacks over the course of a month.

In addition to the threat posed to Christians by radical Muslim groups like Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen are part of the reason why Nigeria is ranked as the 12th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's World Watch List.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith
Follow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP