A Baptist pastor in Nigeria was killed by gunmen who stormed his church and kidnapped his wife just days after a Catholic priest was killed while shopping in a grocery store.
Citing an unnamed source, the Lagos-based independent daily newspaper The Guardian reports that attackers invaded the Nasara Baptist Church in the Igabi local government area of the Kaduna state during the early hours of Monday morning and killed Pastor Hosea Akuchi.
The attackers are said to have stormed the church around 1 a.m. They allegedly proceeded to go into the pastor's living quarters, where they shot him dead and abducted his wife, Talatu Hosea.
The source claimed that the assailants placed a ranson on the pastor's wife that is the equivalent of nearly $14,000. However, authorities have denied that a ransom has been requested.
"The abductors said we need to pay them N5 million before they can release her to us," the source was quoted as saying. "You can imagine that they now have the gut to walk into people's home, kill and abduct and also have an effrontery to demand for ransom. Where and how can we get that money?"
The source wondered how he and the other Christians have "become prisoners in our own country as law abiding citizens?"
The murder and abduction comes as Nigeria ranks as the 14th-worst country in the world for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2018 World Watch List.
"How can this injustice continue in a country like Nigeria without any serious measures in place to check the activities of these people," the source asked.
The killings were confirmed by Yakubu Sabo, a spokesperson for the Kaduna state police command.
Sabo told Naija News that that the attackers initially were looking to kidnap Akuchi and that their initial intentions might not have been to kill him. However, the pastor wouldn't cooperate with the attackers' demands and was shot instead.
"It is quite unfortunate that while we are keeping the peace we are enjoying in Kaduna, some criminals are doing this to sabotage our collective efforts," Sabo was quoted as saying. "We have visited the scene of the unfortunate incident and we are trying our best to get to the root of this incident."
The attackers have not yet been identified and their motive is not yet known.
"The assertion that a ransom is been placed on the woman is not true," Sabo told The Guardian. "This rumor of [ransom] has started going wild, even before establishing contact with them."
Many Christian communities in Nigeria have faced attacks that have been launched by Muslim Fulani herdsmen. The attacks have led to the deaths of over 6,000 Christians since January, according to human rights activists.
Additionally, Christians as well as other religious minorities have been persecuted by the Boko Haram terrorist outfit in the Northeast Borno state.
Akuchi was the second pastor to be killed over the weekend as Catholic priest Michael Akawu was also killed by suspected robbers on Saturday while shopping at a supermarket in a suburb of Abuja. Akawu was the first indigenous priest of his diocese.
The Christian Association of Nigeria has called on authorities to arrest those who killed Akuchi and Akawu.
"We call on the Nigeria Police and other relevant security agencies to do whatever it takes to bring the culprits to book and rescue the widow of the late Rev. Akuchi as soon as practicable," a statement released by the association reads, according to The Punch. "We once again call on our security agencies to be more proactive and invest more in intelligence gathering with a view to preventing many of these crimes that are being committed under their watches undetected," the Christian body stated.
Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of National Christian Elders Forum, recently warned that Christianity is in danger in Nigeria.
"Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria," he was quoted as saying at a recent Catholic Men's Guild conference in Lagos. "The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church."
According to Open Doors USA, Nigeria has a population of about 191,800,000 and an estimated 88,900,000 of them are Christian. Aid to the Church in Need reports that the country is comprised of 46 percent Christians, 46 percent Muslims, along with other traditional faith groups.