The charity CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) says a church leader who had been abducted from his farm in Nigeria has been murdered.
Reverend Dauda Bature, senior pastor of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Church was abducted from his farm in Kaduna state on 8th November. His wife, Haddasa Bature, was abducted ten days later when she attempted to deliver a ransom she had negotiated with the terrorists for her husband, and which they subsequently claimed was insufficient.
Mrs Bature was released on 6th December following a further ransom payment. However, when the church secretary, who has been negotiating with the abductors, called them two days after they claimed to have released Rev Bature, they said he had died a while ago.
CSW says that since 2015, thousands have died and tens of thousands have been displaced in a campaign of attacks on predominantly Christian communities in central Nigeria by assailants of Fulani origin, for whom religion is increasingly either a recruitment factor or a governing ethos.
Kaduna state has become an epicentre for kidnapping and banditry activity as communities have suffered relentless attacks since 2011, with a significant uptick in 2015 characterised by a steadily rising number of abductions and murders of clergy and church goers.
For example, on 31st October, gunmen attacked the Emmanuel Baptist Church at Kakau Daji in Chikun LGA, killing two people and abducting 66 others. In September, the shot and mutilated body of Reverend Silas Yakubu Ali, senior pastor of ECWA Kibori-Asha Awuce in Zonzon District Church Council (DCC), was found around half a kilometre from his home in southern Kaduna.
The violence has rendered rural communities unsafe and is increasingly affecting the Kaduna state capital. According to figures compiled by the Kaduna state government, 343 people were killed and 830 were abducted between July and September 2021, while a total of 545 people were killed and 1,723 abducted between January and June. Among the latter are three students from Bethel Baptist High School who have been held by their captors since 5th July.
On 9th December at least 15 worshippers were killed in an armed attack on a mosque in Ba'are village in Mashegu LGA, Niger state.
CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: "Our heartfelt prayers and condolences are with Reverend Dauda Bature's family and congregation, and with all those who lost loved ones in the violence in recent days. Mrs Bature's ordeal is a grim example of the unimaginable grief, hardship and uncertainty inflicted on families in Kaduna state, at the heart of this crisis of lawlessness. We continue to call for a holistic security plan to defeat this threat and to enable civilians to go about their lives in safety. These levels of insecurity constitute a national emergency, and we appeal to the Nigerian government to address every source of violence urgently, in order to arrest the country's progressive decline into failed statehood."