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Nigerian pastor murdered in machete attack was known for Christian charity, working to foster peace with Muslims

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A Christian Adara woman prays while attending the Sunday's service at Ecwa Church, Kajuru, Kaduna state, Nigeria, on April 14, 2019. |

A Muslim mob in northern Nigeria’s Kano state hacked to death a church leader and burned down his home, church and a Christian school to avenge the murder of a woman allegedly committed by a young man falsely believed to be a Christian convert, according to reports.

The Rev. Yohanna Shuaibu of New Life Church, who was the chair of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the Sumaila Local Government Area and lived in Massu village, succumbed to multiple machete wounds last Friday, Morning Star News reported.

“The Muslims felt the young man who killed the woman in a fight is a Christian, and they likely targeted the pastor for attack because it was through the ministry of Pastor Shuaibu that many Muslims were converted to the Christian faith,” Hosle Tongnan Michael, a friend and colleague of Shuaibu, was quoted as saying.

Shuaibu helped raise funds for the school where local children study and also for boreholes for Christian communities that were denied access to government-provided water sources, according to the U.K.-based group Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which said the pastor also fixed a broken water source at a local mosque in an attempt to foster peace and unity.

The pastor was attacked two days after the young man who had left Islam murdered his sister-in-law by hitting her with a piston, CSW said, adding that the man subsequently turned himself in. Shuaibu, however, was advised to leave the area because area Muslims believed the suspect had converted to Christianity because he's stopped going to the mosque.

The night before he was attacked, the pastor had taken refuge in neighboring Biri village and then returned to Massu to evacuate pupils from his school, Michael said. “Pastor Shuaibu believed that the tension generated by the ugly incident [had subsided] and thought he could stay with his family and other people in Massu. However, the Muslims gathered their mob and descended on him, cut him badly with machetes and burned down his house, the church and the school.”

In separate attacks Tuesday night, four other Christians, including a Catholic priest, were murdered by Fulani militants, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported.

“At around 6:50 p.m. Nigerian time, three persons on a motorcycle were … on their way from Jebbu Miango to Miango community (Plateau state), when the Fulani terrorists laid ambush and attacked them,” Davidson Malison, the national spokesman of Irigwe Development Association, was quoted as saying. “Their motorcycle was also burnt to ashes by the terrorists. Two were killed instantly and one sustained gunshot injuries.”

The survivor told ICC: “The attackers came with guns shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is greatest). I did nothing to them — the [Fulani militants] wanted to kill me because I am a Christian. My friends and our catechist were killed because they were Christians.”

Malison added, “In a separate attack same Tuesday evening, two persons were killed while working on their farm at Nzhwerenvi community in Jebbu Miango.”

The Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria as the third country most affected by terrorism in the world. It reports that from 2001 to 2019, over 22,000 were killed by acts of terror.

Mark Jacob, a Nigerian barrister and former Attorney General of Kaduna state, said last month that “selected killings of Christians, particularly in the ‘Middle Belt’ region of Nigeria” had been going on, and he “has been part of several mass burials” of Christians.

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