(Morning Star News) – A Christian student was killed in an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Kaduna state on Thursday night (April 16), a week after a pastor was slain at his church building residence in southern Nigeria, sources said.
After his college in northwest Nigeria was closed due to the new coronavirus, Sebastine Stephen was visiting his home in Kaduna state’s Gbagyi Villa, a suburb of the city of Kaduna, when armed Fulani attacked at about 11:30 p.m., according to area residents’ text messages to Morning Star News.
“Sebastine Stephen was shot when the armed Fulani herdsmen attacked Gbagyi Villa area in Chikun Local Government Area in the southern end of the city of Kaduna,” area resident Hosea Yusuf told Morning Star News. “Stephen raised alarm, warning residents about the invasion of our community as he was still outside at the time the herdsmen came to attack the community. The herdsmen instantly shot him and then proceeded to enter one of the houses close to them, where they kidnapped a couple.”
Stephen was a Christian attending classes at Federal Polytechnic, Kaura Namoda, in Zamfara state, Gbyagyi Villa resident Titus Patrick told Morning Star News.
Kidnapped were Jack Nweke and his wife, also Christians, area residents said.
“The Fulani herdsmen were over 50 carrying sophisticated guns and shooting sporadically,” Chris Obodumu told Morning Star News. “After they killed the young man, Sebastine Stephen, they then broke into the house of Mr. Jack Nweke and abducted him with his wife, leaving behind their three children.”
The gunshots that killed Stephen alerted neighbors, and when they attempted to come out to confront the herdsmen, the Fulanis’ shooting sounded like that of sophisticated weapons, Obodumu added.
He said he feared the herdsmen may return to attack again.
Another area resident, Sunday Musa, confirmed the killing and kidnapping.
“They were shooting randomly at residents while retreating, because the alarm raised by Sebastine had attracted the attention of the other residents, who in turn alerted security agencies,” Musa told Morning Star News.
Gbagyi Villa community leader Martins Emmanuel said the herdsmen simultaneously attacked both Gbagyi Villa and the nearby area of Mararaban Rido.
Pastor Killed in Delta State
In southern Nigeria’s Delta state, church members identified two armed men who came to the church building the night of April 10 and shot and stabbed pastor Stephen Akpor as Fulani herdsmen. He was 55.
Pastor Akpor, whose residence was on the church premises, was praying and counseling members of his church in Ibusa at about 8:30 p.m. at Breakthrough Cathedral, a local fellowship of the Celestial Church of Christ, church leaders told Morning Star News via text messages.
“Two herdsmen came to a branch of our church, Celestial Church at Ibusa in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta state, where they shot him as he was praying and counseling five members in the church,” a senior leader of the church, Isaiah George, church, told Morning Star News.
Pastor Akpor reportedly retreated to his room before the assailants shot him through a window. The pastor’s wife was inside the building at the time, but she and the other church members escaped unhurt, George said.
“The herdsmen shot the pastor several times and then stabbed him to death,” George said.
Another church leader, Peter Lotobi, said he received a phone call at the time of the herdsmen attack and immediately contacted police.
“By the time the police got to the church, the herdsmen had already killed the pastor and retreated from the church premises,” Lotobi told Morning Star News. “His corpse was removed and taken by the police to the mortuary of General Hospital, Ibusa.”
Pastor Akpor reportedly is survived by five children along with his wife.
Attacks by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen, most of them in the north-central part of the country, have drifted to southern Nigerian states as far back as 2016. Recently Muslim Fulani herdsmen in southern communities have reportedly taken over farmlands.
On Jan. 30, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.