By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)-- Nigeria's security forces have rescued a kidnapped Christian man after recent Muslim attacks in which at least 15 Nigerian Christians died, BosNewsLife learned.
Christian missionaries said the man, identified only as Mohammed U., was trapped this week in a state that is 99 percent Muslim and practices 'Sharia', or Islamic law. The Christian Aid Mission group (CAM) told BosNewsLife that Mohammed, a new believer, was freed after being held captive by hostile Muslim villagers who already killed a family member.
"They [the villagers already] killed his uncle for conversion to Christ...and they have taken over his house," a local Christian mission leader was quoted as saying by CAM. His name and the state was not identified apparently due to security concerns.
Elsewhere, five Christians were murdered, and five others remained missing following newly emerged attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Plateau and Benue states in the past two weeks, Christians and church sources said.
Amid the turmoil, Mohammed U. was freed after the local Christian official leader entered the village, accompanied by 12 policemen, said CAM which supports indigenous missionaries and persecuted evangelical Christians.
"I went with [armed] policemen who drove straight to the [village] chief and asked for Mohammed," the mission leader added in comments obtained by BosNewsLife and distributed by CAM. "He was brought out after a great uproar by Muslim youths who shouted 'Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!' meaning '[Allah] is the greatest.'"
WIFE FACING PRESSURE
However, "The family of his wife said they would not allow their daughter to be a Christian, so they took her," the Christian said Friday, November 17. "We drove out peacefully. I even gave an audio Bible to the chief, and he took it. The [village] chief assured me that when the matter calmed down, I should come back."
The official is also "so happy" that "the police consented to our request" as "sometimes they don't [go] because of the fear of the people."
CAM told BosNewsLife that it was an answer to prayers at a time at a time of deadly attacks targeting Christians in Nigeria. "Please keep praying for the salvation of Mohammed’s wife who is currently not willing to leave Islam and remains in the village with her family," the group added.
The release of the man came after two members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) denomination were killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Sunday, November 12 in Plateau state’s Wereng village in the Riyom Local Government Area, according to local Christians.
COCIN said in published remarks that the two Christians, 28-year-old Musa Chong and Bulus Dantoro, 35, were attacked and shot dead. Their corpses were reportedly mutilated with machetes.
MORE KILLINGS REPORTED
Christians said that earlier this month in Benue state, three Christians were killed and five others kidnapped by Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Among the victims Saater Kwaghdom, who was killed in a November 2 attack in Gaambe-tiv village where herdsmen reportedly abducted five Christians.
Another Christian, Apesuu Uhula, was killed in Isho village on November 13 and the same day herdsmen killed another Christian, Ortse Kwaghdoo, in Azdege village, Christians explained.
The three murdered Christians were said to have been members of the Universal Reformed Christian Church, in Nigeria known as the NKST.
Church members Hingir Akaa Azemgbe, Doosul Nambo, and Ladi Mhbahme, were among those kidnapped, according to Nigerian church sources.
Among those kidnapped, also NKST members, were Hingir Akaa Azemgbe, Doosul Nambo, and Ladi Mhbahme, he said.
Nigerian authorities say several herdsmen have been detained, but local Christians and aid workers remain concerned about growing tensions in Nigeria.
Separately the Church of Christ In Nations denomination already buried 9 Christians in Plateau state’s Riyom Local Government
Area this month after they were killed, and three others seriously injured, on Tuesday, November 7, in Rim village, BosNewsLife learned.
VICTIMS ARE IDENTIFIED
Those killed were named as Felix Ngwong, 34; Gyang Emmanuel, 29; Chuwang Bitrus, 31; Daniel Nini, 52; Dagam Danbwarang, 29;
Rueben Danbwarang, 25, Sunday Danbwarang, 52; Dachollom Shom, 37; and Daniel Shom, 45.
Several weeks earlier a Christian woman and her son and a daughter were killed by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen who have been
raiding Christian communities in the central Nigerian states of Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, and Niger, Christians said.
Christians comprise roughly 51 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent, according to several sources.
The government has come under pressure to improve security for Christians in Muslim dominated areas.