When Pastor Silas Yakubu Ali didn’t show up to lead worship for the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area, church members began to search for him. They found the body of the 55-year-old senior pastor near Asha-Awuce—only a third of a mile from his home. He apparently was ambushed and hacked to death by suspected Islamic Fulani militants when his motorcycle ran out of gas on his return from a visit to another city.
The violence didn’t stop with Pastor Ali’s murder.
A day after Pastor Ali was found, suspected Fulani militants attacked Apyizhime Jim Village in the same government area, killing 10 members of Pastor Ali’s church. The killings include two pregnant women and two youths attacked on a farm as they worked.
“Many people are missing as a result of the attack,” a local source told Nigeria’s Daily Post. “It is impossible to ascertain the number of those injured and those killed, but so far, l have counted 11 dead bodies in different locations this morning.”
91 percent of all Christians killed in 2020
Between January and September this year, almost 600 people were killed in Kaduna alone, according to data from the Nigeria Security Tracker.
The International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, an independent non-profit that advocates for societal freedom regardless of religion, said in July that in a 200-day span, 3,462 Christians had been hacked to death by Nigerian Jihadists, 3,000 Christians had been abducted and 300 churches attacked.
For the first time Nigeria entered the top 10 (at #9, up from #14) of Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of the world’s 50 most dangerous countries for Christians. The West African country that has seen what seems like an ongoing genocide accounted for 91 percent of all Christians killed for their faith in 2020.
“Most of this violence is in the north, in the form of attacks by Boko Haram or it’s split-off groups, Fulani militants and armed bandits. But it is also spreading to the south,” Open Doors explains. “Such violence often causes loss of life, physical injury as well as loss of property. As a result of the violence, Christians are also being dispossessed of their land and means of livelihood.”
Pastor Jeremiah* whose Nigerian village was attacked by Fulani militants, articulates the reality of Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region: “When we go to sleep at night, we are never sure whether we will make it alive to the next day.
“We have cried to the government to intervene, but they have done nothing. We still pray for [the Fulani militants] to change their ways because some of them were forced into it, while others had hardened their hearts to do this evil.” But nothing is [too] difficult for God.”
top photo: Pastor Jeremiah’s village was attacked in April 2020 as part of a massive wave of violence against Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.