The Christian Association of Nigeria is calling on the country’s government to secure the release of its chairman of the Nasarawa State unit, Bishop Joseph Masin, who was kidnapped from his house by gunmen last week.
The gunmen came on motorcycles and took Bishop Masin from his home in Bukan Sidi area in the state capital of Lafia on Wednesday night, and are now demanding a ransom of 20 million Nigerian Naira (roughly $52,000), said Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, who leads CAN’s media and communications department, according to the Nigerian news outlet This Day.
“Since we have no police of our own and we are trying as much as possible to avoid chaotic situations, we are placing a demand on the federal government and the Nasarawa State Government to ensure the safety and immediate release of Bishop Masin before it is too late.”
In January, Rev. Lawan Andimi, chairman of CAN Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, was abducted by the Boko Haram terror group. He was a Church of the Brethren pastor.
Days later, he appeared in a ransom video pleading with church and government leaders to secure his release. However, the pastor was said to have been executed because the Christian community could not raise enough funds to meet the ransom demands. Additionally, sources said that Andimi refused to renounce his faith in Christ.
“We will not accept losing another state Chairman … while our security agencies appeared powerless, helpless …,” CAN said.
Nigeria ranks as the 12th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.
The U.S. State Department added Nigeria for the first time to its “special watch list” of countries that tolerate severe religious freedom violations last December.
“The church views the unabated kidnappings, extortions and killings of Christians and innocent Nigerians as shameful to the government that each time boasts that it has conquered insurgency,” CAN noted in an earlier statement. “It is reprehensible and saddening that each time the government comes out to claim the defeat of the insurgency, more killings of our people are committed.”
A human rights group estimates that at least 1,000 Christians were killed by Boko Haram and Fulani radicals in 2019.
CAN has suggested that it’s difficult for its leaders to believe that the federal government under President Mohammadu Buhari “is not colluding with the insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria.”
CAN has pointed to “the very questionable leadership of the security sector that has been skewed toward a (particular) religion and region.”
“Is that lopsidedness not a cover-up for the operation of the insurgency? If not, why couldn’t the well-equipped security agents of Nigeria get this man killed rescued?”
The Nigerian government had claimed that the brutal acts carried out against Christians had no religious undertones. But CAN, then why are extremists and herdsmen “targeting the predominantly Christian communities and Christian leaders?”
“If the security agencies are not living up to the expectations of the government, why hasn’t it overhauled them with a view of injecting new visionaries into the security system?”