An African pastor is mourning the murder of two of his sons, killed earlier this month in Nigeria’s Adamawa state, an area known for Islamic extremism.
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The Rev. Daniel Umaru was shot July 5, with his two sons — Kefrey Daniel, 19, and Fanye Daniel, 23 — reportedly dying during the horrific attack. The assailants allegedly stormed the family’s home at 2 a.m.
Umaru’s daughter, Ijagla, 13, was also kidnapped during the incursion and was released three days later after a ransom was paid, Morning Star News reported.
The preacher, who survived the ordeal after being left for dead, was hospitalized; his wife was reportedly taken for medical assistance after collapsing.
“He was shot and left to bleed to death,” Aunty Adunni, a local resident, told Morning Star News of Umaru. “Both the wounded pastor and his wife, who became unconscious during the attack, were taken to the hospital.”
Officials are looking for those responsible for the attack as details remain murky. One local man, Peter Musa, asked people to pray for “God’s intervention in this state over unending attacks on Christians and churches.”
Islamic Extremism Raging in Nigeria
The attack on Umaru and his family comes as Islamic extremism and attacks on Christians and churches in Nigeria rage. Despite Christianity being vibrant in many parts of the country, Nigeria’s northern region has experienced an uptick in extremist attacks against believers.
As Faithwire previously reported, Open Doors USA’s 2022 World Watch List ranks Nigeria the seventh most dangerous place in the world to live as a Christian.
The events on the ground tragically warrant this designation.
In a separate incident July 15, two Catholic priests were abducted, and one of those men was tragically murdered. Fathers John Mark Cheitnum and Denatus Cleopas were reportedly kidnapped from Christ the King Catholic Church by unknown assailants, according to International Christian Concern. While Cleopas escaped his captors, Mark was killed.
The events in Nigeria have become so jarring the situation is finally making international news. The violence broke through the news cycle in May, when Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a 25-year-old Christian college student, was reportedly stoned to death by a Muslim mob.
Yakubu, a Shehu Shagari College of Education student in Sokoto, Nigeria, was brutally murdered May 12, and the violent attack was purportedly filmed and shared on social media.
“We have videos, we have photos which I’ve seen, unfortunately,” Joel Veldkamp, head of international communications at persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity International (CSI), told CBN’s Faithwire earlier this year.
She was killed over comments purportedly made on WhatsApp, a messaging app.
“She was in a WhatsApp group that was dedicated to studies at her school,” Veldkamp explained. “Someone asked her in this group how she got such a good score on a test, and she replied, ‘Jesus.’”
This reportedly angered Muslims in the group, who negatively reacted. Yakubu then purportedly left a voice message saying the Holy Spirit would protect her and that the WhatsApp group’s purpose was for schooling, not “religious nonsense,” as Veldkamp explained. She was subsequently murdered.
Additionally, an attack on a church on Pentecost Sunday in Nigeria in early June killed at least 50 people, with militants using guns and bombs.
“It was Pentecost Sunday in Nigeria, so the church was full of people gathered,” Veldkamp told Faithwire. “According to one report, the gunmen snuck in disguised as worshippers. And then other gunmen arrived on motorcycles from the outside and started shooting from the outside, and the ones who were already inside the congregation started shooting as well.”
The location of the attack — in a southwest region of Nigeria — is one of the factors that adds to the “distressing and disturbing” details, as that area is typically peaceful and unaffected by the terror that has gripped portions of northern Nigeria.
“There are a lot of fears that this is going to open up a new chapter in anti-Christian terrorism in Nigeria,” Veldkamp said at the time.
U.S. Government Under Scrutiny
With these events in mind, the U.S. government has been under increased scrutiny over its decision to remove Nigeria from the Countries of Particular Concern list last year.
Experts like Veldkamp believe removing the designation — which pinpoints nations with severe religious freedom violations — could cause more calamity and persecution.
“We’re puzzled by this,” David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, recently told CBN’s Faithwire of the designation change. “Because nothing has gotten better in Nigeria; it continues to get worse.”
Curry said removing the designation could cause more calamity and persecution. Veldkamp also warned of the dire situation inside the country and called on the U.S. to be more proactive.
“The U.S. has a pretty large infrastructure dedicated to religious freedom,” he said in May while speaking specifically about Yakubu’s deadly stoning. “If [Deborah’s] own government is not going to take this seriously and our government is not going to take this seriously, I’m really pessimistic about the chances for anything changing for the better in Nigeria.”
Continue to pray for Nigeria amid these horrific assaults on Christians and churches — and be sure to keep Umaru and his family in your prayers as they cope with the loss of his two sons and the trauma they experienced as a result of the assault.
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