Catholic Bishop in Nigeria Decries Government Laxity Regarding Deborah Yakubu Murder

Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe of the Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria. Credit: ACN

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria has decried failure of authorities in the country to bring killers of Deborah Yakubu to book, nearly two months following the murder of the Christian girl who was accused of blaspheming Prophet Muhammad.

Instead, according to Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe, killings targeting Christians have continued unabated in what the Nigerian Catholic Church leader refers to as a bid to Islamize the West African country.

In a report detailing killings and displacements in Nigeria’s Benue State that Makurdi Diocese prepared for the period covering May to early July, Bishop Anagbe says that the Nigerian government has remained indifferent to the cry for justice for Deborah.

“When I wrote in May 2022, the hottest issue was that of an innocent Christian girl who was stoned and burned to death by Muslim youths. As you read this, please be reminded that nothing serious has come out of the so-called promise to bring perpetrators of that heinous act to book,” Bishop Anagbe says in the report shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, July 5.

Deborah was an Economics student at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto where she was stoned to death and burnt by male students at the college who accused her of blasphemy.


The Christian girl allegedly had an argument with fellow students online and the Muslims among them claimed that she blasphemed prophet Muhammad and killed her on May 12.

In the July 5 report shared with Catholic agencies, including Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International and Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), Bishop Anagbe regrets that kidnappings and murders, some targeting Catholic Priests, have been on the rise in the attempt by militants to Islamize the entire country.

He says, in reference to Deborah, “Not the Sokoto State government or the central government of President Muhammadu Buhari has moved an inch to bring justice to the murderers of this poor girl rather there are more and more persecutions unleashed on Christians all over the country.”

“Today in Nigeria catholic Priests and Prelates of other churches are kidnapped and killed almost on a daily basis without any serious condemnation and efforts to tame the tide,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop says, and adds, “Even for the most ardent pessimists, recent events in Nigeria should clearly expose the elephant in the room; namely, the desire to Islamize the whole country as quickly as possible.”

The member of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians – CMF) says that the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi houses over 80 percent of the quoted 1.5 million displaced persons in Benue State. 

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The report prepared by the Nigerian Diocese details killings and kidnappings in Benue State between May 1 and July 3. They include 10 incidents in various parts of the State, with the worst attack involving the killing of 30 people in Nigeria’s Okpokwu Local Government Area (LGA) on June 12.

Bishop Anagbe notes that the attacks against Christians in Africa’s most populous nation indicate an agenda “to depopulate Christian communities in Nigeria.”

“Like I have consistently maintained, the scale of killings, displacement and wanton destruction of property by these Fulani jihadists militia only buttresses the now revealed agenda to depopulate Christian communities in Nigeria and take over lands,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop says.

He adds, “Tellingly, the government in power in Nigeria at the moment continues to do nothing about these persistent attacks, save to give laughable reasons like ‘climate change’ or that some Muslims too are sometimes killed in attacks by so-called bandits.”

The Bishop says that the Church in Nigeria will not relent in advocating for Religious freedom in the country, saying, “Notwithstanding the threats to personal harm especially when people speak up against the evil Fulani herdsmen jihadists, we shall continue to draw the attention of the outside world to the plan by Islamists and their sponsors to Islamize Christian territories through these killings and occupation of lands.”


The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi has embarked on activities to provide relief to victims of attacks in the Diocese, including food provision and education of displaced children.

In the report, Bishop Anagbe says that in his Episcopal See, 50 IDP children; 29 male and 21 female have already been enrolled at St. Michael’s Aliade, St. Gabriel’s Makurdi, La Salle College Naka, Holy Child Secondary School Makurdi and Our Lady of Mount Carmel college Makurdi for the 2021/2022 academic year.

“The next academic year would see another 50 enrolled as well,” the Bishop who has been at the helm of Makurdi Diocese since March 2015 says, adding that the most urgent needs of the IDP population are food and shelter. 

“There is the complete loss of human dignity and the prevalence of harmful practices as the thousands who are displaced and taking refuge in makeshift shelters have to rely on unsafe coping strategies to survive,” Bishop Anagbe says.

He adds, “The situation of want has reduced many to a condition unworthy of human dignity often relying on food rations contributed by others whose economic conditions are not better off in any way.”

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The Bishop of Makurdi calls for the support of the international community, saying, “Please pray for us and continue to advocate and lobby the international community and other prominent agencies that could speak out about this issue.”

“A million thanks to those who have been tirelessly working with our offices back in Nigeria to ensure that this evil is not swept under the carpet no matter what,” the 57-year-old Nigerian Bsihop says in the July 5 report.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.