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Nigeria pastor: kill Muslims who murder Christians

by Aaron James

According to Daily Post Nigeria, Apostle Johnson Suleman of Omega Fire Ministry told congregants in Kaduna State: "I told my people, any Fulani herdsman you see around you, kill him. I have told them in the church here, that any Fulani herdsman that just entered by mistake, kill him, kill Him. Cut his head.

"If they are busy killing Christians and nothing is happening, we will kill them and nothing will happen."

Johnson Suleman's was arrested over the remark by Nigerian police but was later released. His call for self-defense comes as it's thought nomadic Islamist Fulani herdsmen have murdered at least 200 Christians in Kaduna since September last year, although it's thought the number could be closer to a thousand.

Over decades of conflict between Christian landowners and Muslim nomads, it's thought thousands of Christians have been killed with more displaced. Similar attacks against Fulani herdsmen have been committed by Christians, though the number of atrocities is uncertain.

The ongoing conflict prompted the Archbishop of Jos, Rt Rev Benjamin Kwashi, to warn that a civil war could erupt in Nigeria unless the government did more to quell tensions between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria's Middle Belt.

He said last month: "Once they [the Nigerian government] allow people to take the justice systems of their own choice and mete it upon their fellow neighbours there will be revenge one day.

"Now revenge is not only a Fulani thing, it is a human failure of any human being. People will take revenge one day, regardless of who they are."

The Muslim governor of Kaduna and a Fulani, Nasir el-Rufai, has vowed to stop the violence against Christians and told The Times hundreds of suspects have been arrested - many of them children who've been drugged.

He also said some pastors are exploiting the conflict for financial gain: "We are aware of some church leaders getting money from abroad to bury Christians who have been killed, to rebuild thousands of churches that have been destroyed because the more they put this on social media that Christians are being targeted, the more dollars flow in."

Speaking on Premier's News Hour Dr Khataza Gondwe, Sub-Saharan Africa Advocacy Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, did not condone Johnson Suleman's comments, but understood where they came from: "It's in the context of the upsurge of the killings in Kaduna and cry for Christians to respond with prayer and action, asking the government to respond, and also in the context of a specific threat to him in a specific locality.

"People attacked when they go out in the fields to farm, then attacks happen on communities. When people cry out for help soldiers are either delayed or when they do come sometimes they're overpowered by these people.

"In those areas that are under attack, it can be very dangerous."

She also accused Nasir el-Rufai of arresting church leaders who've been trying to raise awareness of the situation for believers in Kaduna State and failing to condemn the violence properly.

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Dr Khataza Gondwe on the News Hour:

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