Baptist pastor’s son killed, wife and 3 others abducted
Gunmen suspected to be bandits killed the son of a village pastor and abducted his wife, along with three others, in an attack in Nigeria’s Kaduna State on Friday. The Nigerian government continues to be criticized for its inability to curb the rising spate of killings in the region.
The attack took place on Friday morning in Karimbu-Kahugu community in Lere Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria’s Daily Post reported, stating that the police in Kaduna hadn't released any statement.
The Kaduna State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSC Mohammed Jalige, refused to comment on the incident, the newspaper said.
The murder and abductions were confirmed by the Vice Chairman of the Kahugu National Development Associations, Peter Mukaddas.
The bandits went straight to the pastor’s house during the raid and shot his son when he resisted them, Mukaddas was quoted as saying. The attackers then took his wife and three others hostage, he continued.
“We are appealing to the government and security agencies to swing into action as soon as possible to ensure our loved ones are rescued alive. We are fervently praying to God to touch their hearts so that they can see the wisdom to release them,” he added.
Banditry has been a recurring problem in the northern region of Nigeria, with attacks on rural communities, schools and other public places.
Christian rights groups have warned for years about the deteriorating religious freedom conditions in Nigeria amid the rise of terror groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State in the northeast. Advocates have also warned about an increase in deadly violence against predominantly Christian communities committed by radical herders in the farming-rich Middle Belt states as the country deals with desertification and erosion of natural resources.
Critics of the Muhammadu Buhari government contend it is not doing enough to thwart the violence.
However, the U.S. State Department last month reaffirmed its decision to remove Nigeria from its list of countries of particular concern for religious freedom violations after conducting a “careful review” following objections from Nigerian Christians, human rights groups and members of Congress.
The CPC designation carries with it the possibility for sanctions and other deterrence actions to influence those countries to improve religious freedom conditions.
A State Department spokesperson told The Christian Post in an emailed statement at the time that Nigeria did not meet the “legal threshold for designation under the International Religious Freedom Act.”
The Act declares that it must be U.S. policy to “condemn violations of religious freedom, and to promote, and to assist other governments in the promotion of, the fundamental right to freedom of religion.”
However, the State Department told CP that it continues to have concerns about the religious freedom situation in Nigeria, and it will keep pressing the government to address them.
“The State Department has redesignated Boko Haram and ISIS-WA as Entities of Particular Concern for religious freedom,” the State Department spokesperson added. “It has also designated these entities Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs).”
A 2021 religious freedom report released by the State Department in June 2022 noted, “There was pervasive violence involving predominantly Muslim herders and mostly Christian, but also Muslim, farmers, particularly in the North Central, but also in the North West (where most farmers were Muslim) and South West regions.”
The report added, “According to the Nigeria security tracker maintained by the Council on Foreign Relations, there were an estimated 10,399 deaths from violent conflict during the year, compared with 9,694 in 2020.”
According to the watchdog group Open Doors, Nigeria ranks No. 6 on the organization’s 2023 World Watch List, which lists the top 50 worst countries for Christian persecution. The watchdog group reported that in 2022, 5,014 Christians were killed for their faith, and 4,726 were abducted.
As The Christian Post reported, the Biden administration has taken a different approach to its handling of the rising violence in Nigeria than the Trump administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken removed Nigeria from the CPC list in November 2021 after it was added to the list by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo under the Trump administration in December 2020.