Radical Fulani herdsmen killed a 39-year-old Christian pastor and his 3-year-old son in Niger state, Nigeria, while his wife and daughter managed to escape the extremists' attack on their home.
Leviticus Makpa had established a Christian school in the remote Kamberi village and was killed on his mission base with his son, Godsend Makpa, in the May 21 attack, according to reports obtained by Morning Star News.
“Our missionary brother, Pastor Leviticus Makpa, was shot dead with his son by Fulani bandits,” area resident Deborah Omeiza told Morning Star News in a text message. “His wife escaped with their daughter.”
An associate of the pastor said Makpa texted her, saying that Fulani herdsmen had surrounded his home.
“Pastor Leviticus Makpa advised that I should not phone, as the herdsmen have surrounded his house and are attacking his mission base,” she told Morning Star News. “I quickly sent airtime to him to enable him [to] keep communicating with me. While I was waiting to hear from him, we began to pray for their protection.”
Radical Fulani herdsmen had reportedly attacked the pastor in the past for his faith.
“Fulani bandits came against them, they hid in the cave to save their lives, and after they left, he went back to the field with his family; how many of us can do this?” asked Samuel Solomon, a close associate of Makpa’s. “He eventually lost his life and that of his son; the wife and daughter escaped. He knew his life was at stake, but burden for souls won’t let him run away from the field.”
Solomon said they had planned to adopt him as a missionary, “but painfully he has joined the league of martyrs in Heaven. His blood will testify over the land and also against the insecurity of a corrupt Islamist government in Nigeria.”
Solomon said the mission of the radical herdsmen is to wipe out Christianity and “obliterate the church.”
Some have accused the Nigerian government of corruption for not combating jihadi terror groups despite receiving millions in foreign aid each year for that purpose, a lack of accountability, and turning a blind eye to the cycle of violence impacting Christians.
“Nigeria is essentially the new headquarters for the Islamic jihad seeking to establish a caliphate …,” Dede Laugesen, executive director of the United States-based advocacy group Save the Persecuted Christians, told the Christian Post in an interview in March. “The Christians in Nigeria and others are very concerned that the government continues to give impunity to Islamic extremists in Nigeria. … So there’s no real accountability coming from the Nigerian government.”
Human rights groups estimate that hundreds of people were killed by radicalized Fulani herdsmen attacks in 2020 alone.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and ranks No. 9 on Open Doors' World Watch List for Christian persecution worldwide due to an “extreme” level of Islamic oppression. It is where more Christians are murdered for their faith each year than anywhere else.
" ... Christians are often murdered or have their property and means of livelihood destroyed. Men and boys are particularly vulnerable to being killed," Open Doors reports. "The women and children left behind are very vulnerable and living testimonies to the power of the attackers. Perpetrators are seldom brought to justice. Christian women are often abducted and raped by these militant groups, and sometimes forced to marry Muslims."
About 46% of Nigeria's population identifies as Christian, with over 95 million believers, and the divide between Christians and Muslims is roughly even, according to Open Doors.
The Global Terrorism Index ranked Nigeria as the third-most affected country by terrorism and reports that over 22,000 people were killed by acts of terror from 2001 to 2019.
The U.S. Commission on International and Religious Freedom’s 2021 report warned Nigeria “will move relentlessly toward a Christian genocide” if action is not taken quickly.
Nigeria was the first democratic nation to be added to the U.S. State Department's list of "countries of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act for engaging in “tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
An American pastor and attorney recently rebuilt a Nigerian church in time for Easter Sunday that was burned down in a Fulani attack in 2016.
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org