Threats of Massacre Terrorize Christians in Kano State
When the 50-year-old church elder and leader of Samaila village in Kano State, heard gunshots shortly before midnight, he rushed out of his house to try to find security agents.
It was a natural reaction for Mai’angwa Samaila, given recent Islamist attacks in northern Nigeria. What the elder for the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) did not know was that the armed Islamic extremists, having killed two Christians in front of their Catholic church building, were coming for him next.
Not finding him at home that night (Aug. 15), they instead kidnapped his wife, Safiya Samaila, 45. They then kidnapped two other women, 20-year-old Yaha Gabriel and Hauwa Bebi, 18, both members of the St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Samaila, in Tudun Wada Local Government Area (LGA).
Such kidnappings, along with threats of massacres by Islamic extremists, are continuing with the approval of some state officials in a concerted effort to eliminate Christianity, church leaders said.
Mai’angwa Samaila told Morning Star News how the killing of Yohanna Audu, 45, and Audu’s son, 18-year-old Micah Yohanna Audu, and the kidnappings were carried out. The gunmen first went to St. Michael’s Catholic Church, where Yohanna Audu, a church member whose house is beside the Catholic building, went outside.
“He went to find out who were the men on the premises of the church at that time of the night when they shot him, and he died instantly,” Samaila said. “His son, who heard the sound of the gunshot, ran out to find out what had happened since his dad had just gone to the church; he too was shot and killed.”
The armed Muslim extremists then went through the village to kidnap the three women, starting with his wife.
As the gunmen retreated, they shot at those who had run to the church building, Samaila said.
“The three women kidnapped were taken away,” he said. “I frantically called on heads of security agencies in our area, the police and army, but I was told that they were unable to come to our aid because their vehicles had no fuel or were in bad working condition.”
The gunmen contacted him and others the following day, demanding 10 million naira (US$27,510) for the release of the women, he said.
“We pleaded with them to release the women, but they refused,” he said. “They threatened to kill the women unless we paid the ransom. We had no other option than to tax ourselves and pay the money.”
The gunmen accepted 3 million naira (US$8,253) and released the women a week later, on Aug. 22, Samaila said. He and others recovered them in the Falgore Forest.
“We believe that Christian communities here are being persecuted because of our faith,” he said. “The government is aware about such invasions of Christian communities but has not done anything to put an end to the menace. The sad thing is that it is only Christians that are being killed or kidnapped in our area, as there was never any Muslim community attacked or a Muslim kidnapped.”