members allegedly sold pork, a Christian news agency reported Monday, July 25. Hard-line Muslims already "assaulted" the 57-year old father of the family, Emma Osagie, in the town of Ikorodu in Nigeria's Lagos state, said Compass Direct, which investigated the plight of persecuted Christians in the area. The assault apparently happened when the Muslim group tried to capture the father's 16-year-old daughter, Bridget Osagie, on July 15.
"Fortunately, we had already sent her into hiding," the elder Osagie was quoted as saying. "I was beaten up, but the timely intervention of our Christian neighbors saved me. [The militants] left vowing to come back."
Osagie said he reported the assault to police, but they allegedly did nothing to intervene. The attacks on the family and the death sentence came although his daughter "never sold pork," he added.
Militants have reportedly attacked the family several times since Muslims in Ikorodu accused Osagie’s daughter of selling pork against Sharia, or Islamic, law. They are believed to have made the allegation in 1993, when his daughter was just 4 years old.
Compass Direct said the Muslim militants have beaten each member of the family, but authorities never demanded the arrests of those responsible. Nigerian officials were not immediately available for a reaction and Muslim leaders in Ikorodu refused to comment to Compass Direct.
The attacks in the town were expected to be closely watched by churches in Nigeria as the African nation has seen a wave of religious violence in several areas over the past four years. Tens of thousands of people were killed in these clashes and many thousands more were forced to flee their homes and farms, according to church estimates.
Community leaders in Nigeria -- both Muslim and Christian -- reportedly blame the violence
on social tensions produced by the implementation of Sharia law in a dozen northern states
of Nigeria since 2001.
The country’s constitution prohibits application of it to criminal matters, but it may be applied to domestic matters such as marriage and inheritances. Nearly half of Nigeria’s 128.8 million people are Muslims, and almost 40 percent of the population is Christian, according to estimates. Sharia is not in effect in the southern state of Lagos, where the family has been threatened.
However "my fear is that anywhere they see our daughter they will kill her," Osagie told Compass Direct. "We have been forced to hide her. She cannot go to school, attend church service, or even move out," he stressed.
The family’s pastor, Rev. John Alabia, has reportedly tried without success to end the tensions. "He even arranged a meeting with the Muslim leaders here, where we decided to dialogue with them over the issue," Osagie said. "But they are bent in killing the members of our family."
In a petition, the family urged the Nigerian government to end the violence, but it has so far given no serious attention to it, Compass Direct claimed. “If something is not done urgently to check the menace of these Muslim militants, then our lives are not safe in Ikorodu,” he told Compass. (With BosNewsLife Research, Compass Direct and reports from Nigeria).