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HomeBreakingRace Against Time: Lives of Kidnapped Clergymen Hang in the Balance

Race Against Time: Lives of Kidnapped Clergymen Hang in the Balance

Christian community in Northeastern Nigeria facing a dire situation: Interdenominational Spokesman

By Mike Odeh James

(Kaduna) Boko Haram terrorists have given the church of Pastor Paul Musa an ultimatum: Pay 24 million CFA francs (approximately $39,180.74 USD) within 7 days, or he will be beheaded. Relatives of Pastor Musa believe he is being held in Cameroon.

Reverend David Ayuba Azzaman of Kings Worship Centre International in Kaduna shared this information with TruthNigeria on Friday, June 28, 2024.

Musa’s son called him from Cameroon and informed him of the terrorists’ demands, according to Azzaman.

Musa is a pastor at the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in Borno. The Church of Christ in Nigeria is one of the most numerous of congregations in northern Nigeria and among the most devastated by attacks by jihadists or Christian-hating bandit terrorists. 

“Musa and his wife were kidnapped on March 23, 2023, in Gamboru Ngala, along with other Christians, but he is the only one still alive,” Azzaman tells TruthNigeria.

“The terrorists released a video on Monday, June 24, 2024, giving Musa’s family and church 7 days to pay up or face death. As of Friday, June 29, 2024, he has less than 50 hours left.

The COCIN church has raised an amount and offered it to the terrorists, but the terrorists consider it insufficient.

“His church members were able to raise a small amount of money and send it to the terrorists, but they refused, adding that it was not sufficient,” according to Azzaman.

Christian leaders speak out

Pastor Paul Musa and spouse (left) posed for execution in photo distributed by Boko Haram.
Pastor Paul Musa and spouse (left) posed for execution in photo distributed by Boko Haram.

In an exclusive interview with TruthNigeria, the Chairman of the Borno State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Most Rev. Dr. John Bakeni, vowed to bring the plight of kidnapped Pastor Paul Musa to the attention of Gov. Baba Umara Zulum, seeking his urgent intervention.

 Multiple videos featuring Pastor Musa have surfaced in the past, and CAN has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the safe release of all Christian captives, including Pastor Musa, according to Bakeni.

 He made a heartfelt appeal, saying, “I urge the Governor to intervene and secure the safe return of Pastor Musa and his wife. I also call on all Christians across the state and country to pray fervently, seeking God’s intervention and salvation for the Musa family.”

Jihadists now target Christians

The Christian community in the northeastern region of Nigeria is facing a dire situation, with Christians becoming targets for jihadists such as Boko Haram and ISWAP. The chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the Northeast region, Bishop Mohammad Naga, told TruthNigeria while commenting on the plight of Pastor Paul Musa and the larger Christian community.

“It’s a dire situation; from Maiduguri in the Northeast to Benue in the Middle Belt, these jihadists are targeting and killing Christians,” Bishop Naga explained.

“After failing to impose Sharia law and Islamize the country, they’ve resorted to kidnapping, killing, and destroying Christians’ livelihoods. The situation is becoming increasingly desperate, and we urge the government to take immediate action to protect our community.”

Naga urged Borno State Governor Baba Umara Zulum to intervene and ensure Pastor Musa’s and his wife’s safe return.

“I appeal to Governor Zulum, in the name of God, to do everything possible to prevent the terrorists from killing Pastor Musa. Let him use his office to bring Musa and his wife back alive. We need the government to take concrete steps to address this crisis and ensure the safety of our people.”

The pleas from Rev. Naga and Most Rev. Dr. John Bakeni come as the clock ticks away on the terrorists’ deadline, leaving the Christian community anxiously awaiting a miraculous intervention.

Kidnapped Catholic Priest Threatened

A similar tragedy has struck again in Zamfara State, as another religious leader, Father Mikah Suleiman, has been kidnapped by Fulani bandit-terrorists and threatened with death.

Fr Mikah Suleihman
Fr Mikah Suleihman

A heart-breaking video shows the Catholic priest in the forest of Zamfara pleading for his life, battered and shaken.

Father Suleiman was taken from his church in Damba, Gusau, on June 22, 2024. In the distressing video, he begs for help, his eyes filled with tears and fear. “Please, I beg of you, help me! I’m the only one here, and they’ll kill me if a ransom isn’t paid immediately. Don’t abandon me to these monsters!”

According to Gambo Abubakar, a seasoned journalist in Gusau, the terrorists had issued a ransom demand to the church, but it appears the church failed to respond promptly, leading the terrorists to issue a dire ultimatum.

Speaking to TruthNigeria, Azzaman said, “Fulani terrorists, Boko Haram Boko Haram, ISWAP and Ansaru are united in one thing, to kill, maim and render Christians penniless while displacing them from their ancestral lands.

“If you check the news these days, either Fulani terrorists are kidnapping wives and children of pastors, or they are killing the pastors.

“Within the past two weeks, more than three pastors and their wives have been kidnapped for ransom in the Northwest.

“In the Northeast, many Christians are being slaughtered by terrorists.

“in the Middle Belt, the states of Plateau, Benue, Taraba and Kogi are being ravaged by Islamists,” Azzaman said.

Government Silent On Kidnapping and Killings

Azzaman also charged the Federal Government and State Governments for not doing enough to hold the terrorists to account.

“When Christians are killed, the Federal and State governments are quiet, and they do not condemn the acts, nor do they send troops to find the perpetrators,” he said. TruthNigeria refers to this ongoing quiescent condition as a “Conspiracy of Silence.”

Efforts by TruthNigeria to get a response from the Catholic Church leadership in Zamfara and the Nigerian Police Force concerning the fate of the priest failed, as phone calls to the Catholic officials in Gusau were not answered or returned.

The U.S. State Department regularly attributes the violence in Nigeria to the effect of climate change or “farmer-herder clashes.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the U.S. Congressional Committee on Appropriations on May 22 that the atrocities in Nigeria are concerning but “have nothing to do with religion.”

Yet, since 2000, 62,000 Christians in Nigeria have been murdered in genocide perpetrated by Islamist jihadist groups including Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), and Fulani militias, according to the non-profit Genocide Watch. The International Committee for Nigeria refers to this genocide as the “Silent Slaughter.”

Mike Odeh James is a conflict reporter for TruthNigeria.

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