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Christian Foundation Calls for Investigations into Murder of Nigerian Church Leader

Late Pastor Yohanna Shuaibu. Credit: CSW

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based human rights organization, is calling upon the police force in Nigeria to go all out in ensuring the killers of a Pastor in the country’s Kano State are identified and prosecuted. 

On the morning of September 23, Pastor Yohanna Shuaibu, the chairperson of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Sumaila Local Government Area of Kano State succumbed to wounds inflicted on him reportedly by a Muslim mob. 

The plot against the Pastor reportedly started when a young man, who had left Islam but was not attending church services, killed his brother’s wife by hitting her with a piston during an argument. Pastor Shuaibu was allegedly seen to have a hand in the man’s abandoning of Islam.

“We urge the police to spare no effort in locating and prosecuting those responsible for his death,” CSW Founder, President Mervyn Thomas, says in a Monday, September 27 report.

Mr. Mervyn calls on the State and Federal governments to start educating the people of God about “interreligious harmony.”

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“We call on the Federal and State authorities to develop civic education programs that promote interreligious harmony and equal citizenship, and to model these qualities consistently both in word and in deed,” the CSW official says.

He adds, “More must be done to tackle the societal tensions that facilitate regular outbreaks of religiously-motivated violence.”

Pastor Shuaibu, who fled his village together with his family on September 21, returned the next day to evacuate pupils from a school constructed for indigenous Hausa Christian children.  

When he arrived in the village, the Pastor noted some calm, a situation that made him consider resettling with his family.

Unfortunately, a mob attacked the family that night. Mrs. Shuaibu escaped with the children but the angry mob attacked the Pastor using machetes. The police rescued the Pastor after being informed about the incident by CAN’s vice chairperson. Pastor Shuaibu died while receiving treatment following his injuries.

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In the September 27 report, CSW officials say that Kano State has been “a particular flashpoint of inter and intra-religious tensions where members of the majority religious community face no consequences for dispensing mob justice on an unfounded basis”

They cite the June 2016 incident where Mrs. Bridget Agbahime, a 74-year-old market trader and wife of a retired pastor from Deeper Life Bible Church in Noman’s land, was lynched in a market after she was falsely accused of blasphemy.

Five suspects linked to Mrs. Agbahime’s murder, including the man whose falsehoods incited the violence, were released unconditionally months later. 

In the CSW report, Mr. Mervyn condoles with Pastor Shuaibu’s family, saying the slain Pastor “will be sorely missed in his community and beyond.”

“Our hearts and prayers are with Rev Shuaibu’s wife, children, church and community as they mourn the loss of their husband, father and leader,” says Mr. Mervyn. 

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In a message issued September 26, the leadership of the Hausa Christian Foundation (HACFO) says Pastor Shuaibu was “a soldier of Christ whose blood was spilled for the sake of his faith in Christ went to be with the Lord on the 23rd September, 2021.”

They describe the Pastor’s demise as a “story of the life of a Christian soldier, the ambassador of the Lord, who was hunted and gruesomely killed at his duty post and his wrong was that he was a servant of the Lord!”  

HACFO officials also express concern about the “immeasurable risk to be a Christian, especially in the northern part of Nigeria!”

“Anyone serving God in Christ, can't be sure of the following day in this body being in the North,” they say.