Showing posts with label Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The all-women church groups helping people in Nigeria

On a warm Thursday afternoon in May, the ululation, drumming and singing of a choir of two-dozen women can be heard across Gan Gora, a village so small it barely appears on the Nigerian map.

“We are happy you arrived safely,” they sing in Hausa welcoming the visitors to the community branch of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), hidden in the hilly Zangon Kataf, an area of half a million residents in the state of Kaduna.

A congregation of about 100 women dance and sway alongside the choir, including Rifkatu Dauda Kigbu, 53, their spiritual adviser, hobbling on a fractured knee, a crutch in her left hand.

This is a weekly meeting of zumunta mata (Hausa for “fellowship of married women”), a clan that has banded together for almost a century, sisters in times of surplus and of scarcity. Their visitors are zumunta mata members of an ECWA, one of Nigeria’s largest churches, in Gonin Gora, a suburb of Kaduna city.

The first zumunta mata was formed in 1930 after a woman almost died during childbirth in Miango, a town more than 50 miles away in what is now the neighbouring Plateau state. Women in the ECWA Christian church contributed to buy a bicycle so future patients could be ferried to the nearest medical facility. It began a fellowship that now has millions of members in northern Nigeria, across a multitude of denominations both Christian and Muslim.

For years, outsiders have primarily known the zumunta mata for their colourful abayas, singing, which has garnered millions of YouTube views, and provision of spiritual guidance to young women and mothers.

Godwin Ogli, head of theatre arts at the Federal University, Lokoja, has been researching the group in Plateau state and says the original motive was to “provide a space for women to learn more about the word of God” and to be “an outreach arm of the church” to bring more women in.

That role expanded as Nigeria’s economy has stuttered and pastoralist violence has intensified across Kaduna and Plateau, and throughout the Sahel.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project estimates that at least 2,600 people were killed by conflict in Nigeria in 2021. Villagers and local researchers say the casualty count is higher, as some incidents in Zangon Kataf, one of the hotspots, were undocumented.

Tensions over land have led to conflict between nomadic herdsmen and Indigenous farming communities. The herdsmen, mostly Fulani Muslims, have said they are acting in self-defence, stemming from rustling and killing of their cows and kinsmen. The farmers, who are mostly Christian, say they are protecting themselves from ethnic cleansing and land grabbing rooted in British colonial excesses.

Analysts say the climate crisis and overpopulation have exacerbated religious and ethnic differences between neighbours who coexisted peacefully for decades. “The relationship is [now] sour,” says Stella Amako, a local politician and elected chapter head of the visitors from Kaduna.

Conversely the bond within zumunta mata has strengthened. The fellowship is the first responder during crises. They have sleepovers, cook, offer small cash gifts and when necessary, bathe new babies or bodies of the dearly departed. When gifts come from NGOs, distribution is managed by the mama zumunta, who is elected every three years for a maximum of two tenures.

“We are even currently handling two cases of women on the brink of divorce,” says Amako.

While WhatsApp groups have become an important self-help tool in some parts of the global south, in Gan Gora even £5 (10,000 naira) smartphones are a luxury. So women attend meetings in person to listen to gospel lessons and give testimonies.

After the dancing, Kigbu advises the women in a brief lesson. “Any woman with dignity is respected. Her husband is blessed because of her and always boasts about her. Her good habits are contagious,” she says, her crutch resting next to her bible on the table.

Outside, her husband, Rev Luka Kasai Kigbu, shakes hands with local pastors who have come to thank the women for helping them out on a recent farming day. The couple are still recovering from a car jacking by the region’s marauding herdsman that led to Kigbu’s knee injury. They had been returning from a visit to family in a neighbouring state when they were attacked. The reverend managed to escape but the bandits dragged Kigbu out of the car and fractured her right knee. Eventually she was released, and is grateful, despite her injuries.

“I have to give thanks for every situation,” she says.

The women are proud of their support system. Mary Bawa, 68, joined as a new bride in 1976. “What gives me peace of mind and joy is knowing Christ and [having] these people around me,” she says.

A widowed mother of seven, Bawa passes on to young widows what she knows about farming soya beans to make tofu to trade.

One is Magdalene Israel, 32. Halfway into recanting how her husband and mother-in-law were killed on the same day, caught up in a firefight between herdsmen and farmers in September 2022, she stops to bend her head and weep.

She escaped from their farm that day by running non-stop to the next village, bullets whizzing past her ear. “I was just screaming holy ghost fire,” says the mother of three.

“Life has not been easy but zumunta mata and God Almighty have been behind me,” says Israel, who is praying for the ability to let go of her abiding anger and forgive the killers.

For now, conflict has paused and Gan Gora is a picture of serenity. In front of the church, the long tarred road connecting the community to others is flanked on either side by mango, neem and baobab trees and small fields of maize.

Multiple checkpoints dotting the road are held by young soldiers in khaki sitting on sandbags. It is a departure from the scarce government presence for years in an area where people remember other violent episodes, including a 1992 communal clash and a 2011 election crisis that both left hundreds dead.

The checkpoints were introduced after an army general from the region, Christopher Musa, was appointed a service chief last year. A barracks is being built to reinforce security around the hills. At state level, the new governor, Uba Sani, is seen as less divisive than his predecessor, Nasir El-Rufai, who proscribed a community association in Zangon Kataf for being an “unlawful group”.

Still, some are afraid to return to fields and villages.

In the relatively safer Gonin Gora suburb of Kaduna, the women enjoy regular sessions like learning how to make homemade liquid detergents to help cushion their households from the effects of Nigeria’s cost-of-living crisis. The choir rehearses songs about subjects such as forgiveness and heaven.

“They look out for one another, supporting one another, sometimes financially or emotionally, psychologically … this goes beyond the church,” says Ogli.

One such session helped Grace Friday, 33, with the art of food presentation that her husband now loves. Afterwards, he overheard her chatting with a friend about a forthcoming wedding as he ate and later told Israel he would buy her an outfit to the ceremony, to show his appreciation for the benefits the fellowship had brought to his family. She was overjoyed.

Eunice Shola, a 47-year-old civil servant who runs the cooperative union’s low-interest loan system, says the fellowship has helped her to try public speaking.

“When I started this, I couldn’t even stand and pray in the presence of two or three people … but this fellowship has really built my self-confidence,” she says.

Those in the city remember their sisters in the countryside. For the past 13 years Lucy Stephen, 48, has led Gonin Gora’s 57-woman choir, whose music helps members to show solidarity with their Zangon Kataf sisters and “build their faith”.

One song references the cry of a prophet in the Bible’s book of Habakkuk. “Oh Lord, how long must I call for help?” the first verse goes. “There is pathos everywhere.”

Eromo Egbejule, The Guardian

Monday, April 15, 2024

Video - Crowds flock to Lafia town in Nigeria to celebrate culture and religion

Crowds gathered in Lafia town in central Nigeria to celebrate the Durbar Festival, a colorful religious and traditional fete that features performances from horse-riding men in robes and turbans. The event is one of the ways locals mark the Eid-al Fitr Islamic festivities celebrated after the end of Ramadan.


Related story: Video - Eid celebrations in Nigeria: Centuries-old traditions mark festivities


Friday, April 12, 2024

Video - Eid celebrations in Nigeria: Centuries-old traditions mark festivities

Eid festivities have reached a climax in Nigeria with colourful events. Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from northern Kano state.

Al Jazeera

Monday, February 12, 2024

Two missionary priests who were kidnapped in Nigeria released

 Two missionary priests who were abducted from a parish rectory in Nigeria earlier this month have been released and admitted to the hospital for examination.

Father Kenneth Kanwa and Father Jude Nwachukwu were taken from the rectory at St. Vincent de Paul Fier Parish in the Diocese of Pankshin in Plateau state on Feb. 1.

In an interview with Channels TV, Father Polycarp Lubo, the chairman of the Plateau state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), confirmed the release of the two members of the Congregation of Missionaries Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (CMF), also known as the Claretians.

Lubo said that Kanwa, the parish priest, and his assistant, Nwachukwu, “were released in the early hours” of Thursday, Feb. 8.

The CAN chairman could not disclose “whether ransom was paid to secure the release of the priests” but said they “had been taken to the hospital for medical checkups.”

The public relations officer for Plateau State Security Command, Alfred Alabo, also confirmed the release of the two priests.

“No suspects are in police custody yet as those apprehended by the local vigilantes [said] to have committed the crime were never handed over to the police,” he said.

The provincial secretary of the Claretians, Father Dominic Ukpong, had announced the abduction of his two confreres in a statement on Feb. 2. He had appealed for “prayers at this challenging time for their safety and quick release from captivity.”

The West African nation has been battling a surge of violence orchestrated by gangs, whose members carry out indiscriminate attacks, kidnapping for ransom, and in some cases, killing.

Insurgency by Boko Haram, a group that allegedly aims to turn Africa’s most populous nation into an Islamic nation, has been a major challenge in the country since 2009.

By Jude Atemanke, CNA

Related story: Two priests kidnapped from parish rectory in Nigeria

Thursday, February 8, 2024

House advances resolution to increase sanctions on Nigeria over persecution of Christians

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has advanced a resolution to increase sanctions and pressure on the Nigerian government over the rampant persecution of Christians and other minorities in the country.

Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, the resolution would call on the Biden administration to designate Nigeria a “country of particular concern” (CPC), a designation that comes with additional sanctions.

The resolution would also urge the administration to appoint a special U.S. envoy to Nigeria to monitor and report on incidents of persecution.

Smith and other proponents of the bill, including Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADF), maintain that adding Nigeria to the State Department’s CPC blacklist would be an effective means to pressure the Nigerian government to address the persecution.

Sean Nelson, a legal counsel for ADF, has previously told CNA that the CPC list is “the most powerful tool the U.S. government has to influence the religious freedom situation in other countries.”

For years now Nigeria has been recognized by religious rights groups as one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a Christian. According to Open Doors International 4,998 Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2023, meaning that 82% of all Christians killed for their faith last year were in Nigeria.

In late January, Nigerian Bishop Wilfred Anagbe of the Diocese of Makurdi told CNA that the persecution amounts to a Christian “genocide” in which radical Islamic groups’ goal is to “systematically” eliminate the Christian population from Nigeria.

Despite this, the Biden administration has left Nigeria off the CPC list for the last three years. This year the administration’s decision to leave Nigeria off the list came just weeks after a series of attacks on Christmas left more than 200 Nigerian Christians dead.

Smith said in a Wednesday statement that the Nigerian government “has enabled widespread murder and violence through indifference and a gross failure to protect victims and prosecute Islamist terrorists” and that the US State Department “is not using all the tools provided to hold guilty parties accountable.”

“Following the Biden administration’s repeated failure to designate Nigeria as a country of particular concern despite widespread outcry, we are grateful to the members of Congress who are taking these vital steps to increase pressure on Nigeria for its egregious violations of religious freedom,” Nelson said in a Wednesday press release.

“No person should be persecuted for their faith, and it is imperative that the U.S. government condemn the targeted violence, unjust imprisonments, and egregious blasphemy laws that plague Christians and religious minorities in Nigeria,” he added.

Nelson told CNA that the resolution “lays out an undeniable case that Nigeria has engaged in and tolerated egregious, systematic, and ongoing violations of religious freedom, and some of the worst in the world, particularly for Christians in the north.”

If Congress passes the resolution, Nelson said he hopes the Biden administration would “listen and change course.”

“More importantly,” he said, he believes the resolution’s passage “would send an immense signal of support for the victims of persecution in Nigeria themselves, who have asked for the international community to raise their voices and would put pressure on the Nigerian government to take the persecution seriously, hold attackers accountable, and free those who have been imprisoned and charged under blasphemy-related allegations.”

“There has already been a great amount of outcry over the lack of the CPC designation for Nigeria by the USCIRF and civil society organizations that focus on international religious freedom,” he said. “Having the voice of Congress echo those concerns would also give the concerns an international amplification that is sorely needed.”

According to Nelson, the Nigerian resolution will now move forward for a vote in the House. However, no date has been set for when the vote will take place.

By Peter Pinedo, CNA

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Pastor in Nigeria arrested over allegedly swindling followers of $1m

A Nigerian pastor has been arrested over allegations he fraudulently got people to part with their money.

Theo O Ebonyi, well-known in Benue state, is accused of swindling his followers and others out of more than 1.3bn naira ($930,000; £740,000).

He was detained and freed on bail last year, but this has only just been made public, the anti-corruption authority spokesperson is quoted as saying.

Mr Ebonyi said the news was "fake" information spread by bloggers.

He did not comment on the allegations against him.

Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) allege Mr Ebonyi asked his victims to pay a $1,300 fee each to access a $20bn grant from the US-based Ford Foundation.

It, however, says that the foundation did not offer such a grant.

"Investigations by the EFCC showed that the Ford Foundation had no arrangement, grant, relationship or business with Ebonyi," the agency said in a statement.

"The foundation pointedly disclaimed him and his NGO stressing that it had no link whatsoever with them."

The EFCC also alleges that Mr Ebonyi, who runs Faith on the Rock Ministry International church, used the fraudulently acquired funds to buy five properties.

He is set to be charged in court after the investigations are finalised, the EFCC says. It is still unclear exactly what charges he will face.

In a video statement Me Ebonyi posted on Facebook around the same time as the EFCC announced his arrest on X, he said the news of his detention had been made up by "bloggers... trying to use my body to make money... that is a very big fake news... it's not true".

But EFCC spokesperson Dele Oyewale told Punch newspaper that Mr Ebonyi was on bail having been arrested and then released last year.

"He had been arrested over a long period of time, but because of the investigation that we were doing, we did not issue any statements," the spokesperson is quoted as saying.

By Gloria Aradi, BBC

Related story: Dead evangelist TB Joshua accused of sexual abuse

YouTube shuts down prominent Nigerian megachurch preacher's channel for 'gay curing' claims

Monday, January 8, 2024

Dead evangelist TB Joshua accused of sexual abuse

 Before his death in 2021 at the age of 57, TB Joshua was one of Africa's most influential televangelists.

The Christian preacher attracted followers from all over the world by claiming to perform miracles, like curing blindness and HIV.

However, an investigation by the BBC has uncovered more than a decade of allegations of rape and torture by him inside his compound in Lagos.

Joshua amassed great wealth throughout his career, possessing a fleet of cars and travelling via private jet.

But his beginnings were far more humble. Born Temitope Balogun Joshua to a poor family on 12 June 1963, he was raised by a Muslim uncle after his Christian father died.

One of the claims he made was that he had been in his mother's womb for 15 months.

He also said that during his early days, he experienced a three-day trance in which he was called to serve God.

"I am your God. I am giving you a divine commission to go and carry out the work of the heavenly father," Joshua declared.

It was then that he started the Synagogue, Church of All Nations (Scoan), with eight members.

Joshua and Scoan rose to prominence in the late 1990s, amid an explosion of "miracle" programmes performed by pastors on Nigerian TV.

Tens of thousands of followers from Nigeria and around the world would regularly attend his services in Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city, in an attempt to be healed and hear the preacher's "prophecies".

Joshua also took his ministry on tour, visiting other African countries, the UK, US, and nations in South America.

In testament to his vast reach, the Lagos state government turned to Joshua in an effort to control the spread of Ebola during the 2014 outbreak in other West African countries.

Officials asked Joshua to tell infected followers in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - the worst affected countries - not to travel to Joshua's Lagos church for healing.

He agreed to suspend some of the church's healing programmes but is also said to have sent 4,000 bottles of "anointing water" to Sierra Leone, falsely claiming they could cure the disease.

Joshua's anointing water was always in high demand - in 2013 a rush for the bottles at his church in Ghana led to the death of four people in a stampede.

Many criticised the preacher following the incident but police in Ghana said it was difficult to apportion blame.

In an even deadlier case the following year, one of Joshua's churches collapsed in Lagos, killing at least 116 people.

The preacher never faced charges, despite a coroner in a Lagos court saying that "the church was culpable because of criminal negligence".

Although thousands packed his churches, Joshua always struggled to be accepted by his peers.

Ostracised by both the Christian Association of Nigeria (Can) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), he was described as an "impostor" who belonged to a group of "occults" that had infiltrated Christianity.

"He was rough. He was crude. His methods were unorthodox," Abimbola Adelakun, assistant professor in the African Studies Department at the University of Texas, told the BBC in 2021.

While the growth of the internet and social media helped him spread his message, it also revealed increasing opposition to Joshua and other wealthy mega-church pastors.

Some critics took issue with Joshua - known as "the prophet" by his followers - claiming to have predicted numerous events, from the death of Michael Jackson, to the disappearance of the Malaysian plane MH370 in 2014.

Before Jackson's death in 2009, TB Joshua told his congregation : "In his own area he is famous. He is known everywhere. Great. Too great. Because I see something will begin to happen to that star and that will likely end in him to pack his load and go to the journey of no return but I don't know when that journey [is]."

Six months later, Joshua used the star's shock death as proof that he could supposedly see the future.

Despite making such outlandish claims, Joshua had numerous high-profile followers.

South African politician Julius Malema, Malawi's former President Joyce Banda, long-time Zimbabwe opposition leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai and the former president of Ghana, the late John Atta Mills, are among the prominent Africans who paid homage to Joshua while he was alive.

Joshua career really took off when he began preaching on Emmanuel TV, a television station run by Scoan.

Along with being a platform for his sermons, the station broadcast accounts of people who said their lives were changed for the better because of the preacher's ministry.

Testimonies included stories about financial prosperity, inexplicable recoveries from illness and even people supposedly being awakened from the dead.

Joshua was also known for his charity work, for which Nigeria's former president, the late Umaru Yar'Adua, awarded him the Order of the Federal Republic, one of the country's highest honours.

When the preacher died - of a cause that was never made public - mourners travelled from across the globe to Lagos for his burial service.

His wife, Evelyn Joshua, took over as head of the the church. They had three children.

But that legacy now lies in tatters.


Related stories: TB Joshua: Nigerian televangelist to be buried in Lagos

Controversial Nigerian pastor TB Joshua dies aged 57

YouTube shuts down prominent Nigerian megachurch preacher's channel for 'gay curing' claims

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Video - 12 killed in Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants

Heavily armed assailants suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents randomly shot at people on Monday. Authorities launched investigations into the incident two weeks after bandits killed two people. Chibok is widely known for attacks and kidnappings, most notably the 2014 abduction of 276 teenage girls at a secondary school.


Thursday, December 14, 2023

Christian mother on bail after 19 months prision time in Nigeria for “blasphemy”

A judge in Bauchi State, Nigeria, has granted bail to Rhoda Jatau. Jatau, a Christian and mother of five, had been imprisoned since May 2022 for allegedly sharing a video on WhatsApp condemning the lynching of Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a Nigerian university student who was murdered and set on fire by a mob of her classmates in May 2022 for sharing her Christian faith. ADF International is supporting Jatau’s defence.

Prior to being granted bail, from the time of her arrest over 19 months ago, Jatau was repeatedly denied bail and detained incommunicado, only having intermittent access to legal counsel and family members during court appearances.

“We are glad to see that Rhoda Jatau finally has been granted bail after being denied it for so long,” said Sean Nelson, legal counsel for ADF International. “No person should be punished for peaceful expression, and international religious freedom advocates must continue to speak up on Rhoda’s behalf. We will continue to seek justice for Rhoda, and we are hopeful that the unjust charges against her will be dropped completely.”

The Nigerian ADF International allied lawyer, serving as lead counsel on Jatau’s case, responded: “After 19 long months in prison, we are happy that Rhoda finally has been released on bail. We thank all who have been praying for Rhoda, and we ask for your continued prayers as her case continues.”

Before granting bail, a judge in Bauchi State, Nigeria, refused to dismiss prosecutors’ case in their trial against Jatau. The decision to continue with the prosecution followed a “no case submission” filed by Jatau’s lawyers after the prosecution had rested based on serious evidentiary issues. Jatau’s lawyers raised significant legal failures in the prosecution’s case, and argued that they had not established the basic elements of their case against Jatau.

The grant of bail followed international outcry over Jatau’s imprisonment. Highlighting both Jatau and Yakubu’s cases, and in response to appeals from ADF International and other religious freedom advocacy organizations, United Nations experts sent a joint allegation letter to the Nigerian government earlier this year. The letter emphasized the danger of blasphemy laws as a violation of international human rights and called attention to Jatau’s unjust imprisonment.

Jatau’s trial is currently scheduled to resume on 19 December, but holiday schedules may push her next court date into 2024. Jatau is being charged under sections 114 (public disturbance) and 210 (religious insult) of the Bauchi State Penal Code and faces up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted of the charges against her.

Nigeria’s Persecution of Christians

The cases of Rhoda Jatau and Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu are but two examples of the widespread violence against religious minorities, including Christians in Northern Nigeria, prevalent in Nigeria today.  

Together with other religious minorities in Nigeria, the persecution of Christians in Nigeria is especially severe. Worldwide, over 5,500 Christians were killed for their faith last year. Of those, 90% were Nigerian.   

The criminalisation of blasphemy in Nigeria carries with it dangerous implications for the country as a whole. In a country of more than 200 million, split nearly evenly between Christians and Muslims, blasphemy laws are a significant driver of societal tensions. These laws punish the innocent for expressing their beliefs, silence people from sharing their faith, and perpetuate societal violence. Blasphemy laws throughout Nigeria encourage brutal mob violence and inflict severe harm on minority Muslims, Christian converts, and others. 

ADF International also is supporting the legal defence of Nigerian musician Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a Sufi Muslim who was sentenced to death by hanging for sharing song lyrics that were deemed “blasphemous” on WhatsApp. With the support of ADF International, Yahaya is appealing his case to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the hopes of overturning the death penalty blasphemy laws in Nigeria. Yahaya remains in prison awaiting his appeal. Yahaya has been imprisoned for over three and a half years.  

ADF International

Related stories: Woman jailed in Nigeria for ‘blasphemy’ for 18 months over WhatsApp message

Nigerian accused of blasphemy stoned to death

Mob kills student over ‘blasphemy’ in northern Nigerian college

Friday, December 1, 2023

Woman jailed in Nigeria for ‘blasphemy’ for 18 months over WhatsApp message

For sharing a message among her co-workers that criticised a mob action last May, Rhoda Ya’u Jatau has spent the last year in police detention on charges of blasphemy towards Islam.

The healthcare administrator with the Warji local government in Bauchi, northeastern Nigeria was arrested a few days after forwarding the video condemning the burning to death of Deborah Yakubu, a university student in Sokoto, another state, over alleged blasphemy.

Prosecutors allege that by sharing the video, Jatau, then 45, committed multiple offences of inciting disturbance, contempt” for religious creed, and cyberstalking.

Last Monday, a Bauchi state high court rejected her “no-case submission”. Kola Alapinni, lead counsel at Abuja-based nonprofit Foundation for Religious Freedom who is familiar with the case, told Al Jazeera that the defence team is expected to make a case when the court sits again in December.

If found guilty, Jatau, a mother of five and Christian, could be sentenced to a few years in prison, he said.

The court’s decision has sparked public outrage in parts of Nigeria, a country with a history of religious extremism.

“This really shows how far extremism has permeated deeply into our institutions,” said Ndi Kato, politician and executive director of Dinidari, an advocacy group for women’s rights in the Middle Belt region, as central Nigeria is often referred to. “You will lock a person for just forwarding a message because you don’t think that it favours what you believe in? I don’t think that has any place in our society today.”

‘Highly restricted’

Half of Nigerians are Muslims and a slightly smaller proportion – 45 percent – of their compatriots are Christians but Nigeria is officially a secular country whose constitution allows for freedom of speech and religious association. For decades, religious tensions have found their way into many facets of life in what is also an ethnically diverse country. This is most pronounced in northern Nigeria where many states have adopted variations of the conservative Islamic law since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.

Before and after the law, dissenting beliefs and opinions or actions deemed to be blasphemy have routinely sparked riots, mob action, or jail sentences in the region. Across the north, judgements critics of Islamic law consider harsh, including death by stoning, have been handed out repeatedly.

This has also been the case in Bauchi, one of Nigeria’s 36 states, which is wedged between the predominantly Christian Middle Belt and the mostly Muslim northeast. The state adopted Islamic law in 2001.

Nigeria is one of the 12 countries in the world that still criminalises blasphemy and one of the seven where it is punishable by death, according to Alapinni.

Isa Sanusi, country director for Amnesty International in Nigeria, said blasphemy or accusations of blasphemy are now a tool for gross human rights violations or even for “settling personal scores”.

“Repeatedly, Nigerian authorities failed to uphold and protect human rights by making sure that people are not either killed or attacked for expressing their opinions,” he told Al Jazeera.

Wakili Mathew Laslimbo, the general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Bauchi, said the minority Christian community in the state is unhappy about Jatau’s arrest. He told Al Jazeera that the association had tried everything possible to help, including trying to meet the state governor, to no avail.

“The arrest prove[s] to us that the freedom of speech and religion is highly restricted … the church continues to pray for her during gatherings,” her pastor Rev Ishaku Dano Ayuba told Al Jazeera.

The Bauchi state government did not respond to a request for comments. Temitope Ajayi, a presidential spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that the federal government had no knowledge of the case.

A pattern of extremism

There have also been other high-profile cases of blasphemy in recent years.

Mubarak Bala, an atheist and president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria who was arrested on the allegation of a blasphemous post on his Facebook account, has been in detention since 2020. Similarly, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a Sufi (Islamic) gospel artist, was sentenced to death on the charge of sharing blasphemous song lyrics on WhatsApp. The case is still in court.

Amnesty International has called for their immediate and unconditional release, as well as protection of their rights afterwards.

“Nigerian authorities must wake up to their national and international legal obligations to protect and promote human rights, including the right to freedom of religion,” Amnesty director Sanusi said.

In August, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief released a statement on the issue.

“We express concern over the criminalisation of blasphemy in Nigeria contrary to international human rights law and standards and the rising episodes of violence relating to accusations of blasphemy targeting religious minorities in Nigeria,” it said.

According to Sanusi, the latest case underscores the need for justice through a fair trial of all people suspected of responsibility for mob violence to deter would-be perpetrators.

After Yakubu’s lynching in Sokoto, the arrested perpetrators were let off the hook due to the negligence of the prosecution who refused to show up at the court hearing. In contrast, since Jatau was arrested by the police, she has been denied bail and her family has been in hiding for fear of violence against them.

Jatau’s ongoing ordeal, Dindari’s Kato said, is part of a pattern that signals that women in the north and Nigeria as a country are not safe.

“A person who was complaining about this injustice is the person that is going to jail,” she said. “Extremism takes out women and it is just disheartening. This means that women are not safe and we need to speak.”

Last August, the sultan of Sokoto, considered the leader of all Muslims in Nigeria, told new recruits in the one-year mandatory national youth service programme that Islamic law would not apply to non-Muslims among them.

Alapinni agrees, pointing out that Nigeria’s Court of Appeal had indeed ruled in two earlier cases that Islamic law is limited to Islamic personal law which includes succession, inheritance, and marriage.

“There is no room under the constitution for Sharia criminal law,” he said. “The sultan [of Sokoto] is right when he says the Sharia law is not supposed to affect non-Muslims. In fact, the Sharia criminal law should not have been promulgated in the first place … [it] has no place … in a country multicultural, diverse and multireligious like Nigeria,” he said.

By Pelumi Salako, Al Jazeera

Related stories: Nigerian accused of blasphemy stoned to death

Imam Sentenced to Death Over Blasphemy in Nigeria

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Nigerian accused of blasphemy stoned to death

A man was stoned to death after being accused of blasphemy in northwest Nigeria, authorities and activists said, sparking outrage on Monday from rights groups worried about what they said were growing threats to religious freedom in the region.

Usman Buda, a butcher, was killed Sunday in Sokoto state’s Gwandu district after he “allegedly blasphemed the Holy Prophet Muhammad” during an argument with another trader in a marketplace, police spokesman Ahmad Rufa’i said in a statement Sunday night.

Residents shared videos that appeared to be from the scene showing a large crowd that included children pelting stones at Buda on the floor as they cursed him.

Rufa'i said a police team was deployed in the area but when they arrived, “the mob escaped the scene and left the victim unconscious." He was later declared dead at Usmanu Danfodiyo Teaching Hospital in Sokoto, Rufa'i said.

The killing was the latest attack rights campaigners have said threatens religious freedom in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim northern region. Blasphemy carries the death penalty under Islamic law in the area.

Amnesty International Nigeria’s office said the failure to ensure justice in such cases would encourage more extrajudicial killings. “The government is not taking the matter seriously and that has to change,” Isa Sanusi, acting director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said.

Sokoto Governor Ahmed Aliyu said residents should not take laws into their hands. But he also warned that his government would “deal decisively” against anyone found guilty of blasphemy.

“Sokoto people have so much respect and regard for Prophet Muhammad ... hence the need for all the residents to respect [and] protect his dignity and personality,” Abubakar Bawa, his spokesman, said.

Many of those accused of blasphemy never make it to court for trial. Last year, a student in Sokoto was beaten and burnt to death for alleged blasphemy while a man was killed and set ablaze for the same reason in the capital city of Abuja also in the northern region.

The police in Sokoto said it has opened an investigation into the latest incident, though arrests are rare in such cases.

“Even where arrests were made, there were serious allegations that those arrested were either later released or the whole case is jeopardized. This is very dangerous, and it shows the Nigerian authorities are deliberately not willing to do the right thing to fix this dangerous situation,” Sanusi added.


Related stories: Imam Sentenced to Death Over Blasphemy in Nigeria

Mob kills student over ‘blasphemy’ in northern Nigerian college

Nigerian singer sentenced to death for blasphemy in Kano state

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Trial rescheduled for pastor arrested for wielding gun during Church service in Nigeria

A magistrate’s court in Abuja, on Tuesday, rescheduled the trial of a pastor of the House on the Rock Refuge Church, Uche Aigbe, who faces charges of illegal possession of firearms.

The court adjourned the case until 2 May due to the absence of a defence lawyer, who had sent in a letter to request permission to be away.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) police command had in February arrested Mr Aigbe, after a video clip of him carrying a gun during a Sunday church service went viral on social media platforms.

The images of the pastor showing him welding an AK-47 rifle on the church pulpit caused a stir with many commentators expressing safety concerns about the pastor’s action.

The police subsequently charged the pastor alongside Promise Ukachukwu and Olakunle Ogunleye with criminal conspiracy, illegal possession of prohibited firearms, inciting disturbance and criminal intimidation which they pleaded not guilty to.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at the resumed trial at the magistrate’s court in Zuba, FCT, Abuja on Tuesday, the magistrate, Abdulaziz Ismail, drew attention to a letter by a defence lawyer, Uche Uzukwu, seeking an adjournment of the trial.

Mr Ismail noted that the adjournment was at the instance of the defence counsel who was absent, citing a matter he had at the election tribunal.

He then adjourned the case until 2 May for hearing.

NAN reports that the police alleged that the defendants, all of House on the Rock Refuge Church, Wuye, Abuja, conspired with an illegal possession of an AK-47 rifle on 12 February.

The prosecution counsel, James Idachaba, said the defendants got the firearm from Musa Audu, a police inspector, attached to Wuye Division and posted on guard duty at the church.

He added that the defendants used the firearm for an illustration while preaching a sermon about faith in the church.

The prosecution counsel said the defendants made inciting and intimidating statements to the church congregation that could cause alarm and breach of peace.

The offence, he said, is punishable under Section III of the Firearms Act CAP F28, LFN 2004 and contravened Section 97, 114 and 397 of the Penal Code. 

Premium Times

Thursday, March 16, 2023

NFL player-turned doctor starting medical practice in Nigeria











Whether he was running through defenders in the NFL or studying relentlessly for medical school exams, Dr. Samkon Gado, M.D., (’05) has led a life marked by resiliency and obedience to God’s leading.

Gado was born in Kafai, Gombe State, Nigeria. His family moved to South Carolina before high school so that he could pursue an American education.

After a standout athletic career in high school, where he lettered in three sports and received all-state football honors as a senior running back, Gado received a football scholarship from Liberty, a Division I-AA program at the time.

Following the 2004 season, Gado was recognized as an All-Big South Conference selection but was bypassed in the 2005 NFL Draft. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent less than two months before being signed by the Green Bay Packers. He impressed the league enough in his rookie season to remain there for six years, spending time with six different teams and racking up 12 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards of offense during his time in the NFL.

But football was never his intended career. Gado’s goal in the NFL was certainly an unconventional one: to save his earnings to pay for medical school and fulfill a dream of serving in medical missions.

Gado married his wife, Rachel, in 2010, and with her support traded a football uniform for a white coat, starting medical school at Medical University of South Carolina. Near the end of his time there, he traveled to Nigeria to do a one-month rotation of his ENT (ear, nose, and throat) residency with Saint Louis University.

He had first considered medical missions when he was a Liberty student, but working in Nigeria only further confirmed a desire God had laid on his heart years earlier.

“I always felt a tug toward cross-cultural missions. My grandfather was a local missionary to Nigeria, and my father was a pastor and minister and has been in the ministry my whole life. I kind of resisted until I came to Liberty,” he said. “I was ready to go somewhere where the Gospel had never gone before. But my idea of missions began morphing a bit, and instead of setting up a hut and serving as many people as I could until I die, I started thinking, ‘What if missions could be a little more organized?’ and I began thinking more about infrastructure.”

In 2019, Gado and his sister, Ruth, founded The Jonah Inheritance with the purpose of reimagining healthcare in Nigeria from a Gospel perspective. The name comes from both sets of their grandparents’ names: Yunana, a version of “Jonah,” and Gado, which means “Inheritance.”

Gado said the nation is desperate for this type of medical relief.

“Nigeria’s strength is it is one of the top exporters of physicians in the world, but it has one of the worst healthcare systems and the worst infrastructure, so there is a disconnect there,” he said.

The vision includes building a self-sustaining hospital on a 28-acre campus in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Gado said they have raised enough funds to build a border fence and hope to break ground on the hospital this year. The Jonah Inheritance is already actively at work training in-country doctors and medical staff.

Nigerian partners have been overseeing the projects while Gado is in Lynchburg, where he returned in 2020 to work as an ENT surgeon. He is working with his former roommate from Liberty, Dr. Jay Cline (’05); the two are partners at Blue Ridge ENT.

While Gado serves patients locally, he’s also making plans to someday move with his wife and four sons to Nigeria and focus his full attention on The Jonah Inheritance.

“The idea of going to Nigeria, for both of us, is very difficult,” he said. “That’s why what really keeps us moving in that direction, truly, is what the Lord is doing in both of our hearts.”

Gado said his ultimate goal is to not only help people heal physically but also share the Gospel message with them.

“I started seeing medicine from a slightly different perspective, using the Gospel as a framework to actually break down disease,” he said. “I think diseases preach the Gospel to us, and if you think of how diseases happen, you can see and preach through a disease.”

He said cancer is one example.

“Cancer is a cell creating its own agenda. It doesn’t really matter what that agenda is; it’s just an agenda different than what it was designed to do. When it reproduces itself, it destroys the organ and eventually can metastasize to the body and end in death. That’s no different than the sin of Adam.”

Gado said God looks at the heart of the issue, and that is how healing truly comes.

“He doesn’t go after the behaviors. The only way that sin can be addressed is by changing the heart. Once you fix the broken DNA, the body naturally takes care of the cancer.

“Couple our understanding of the Gospel and how it affects medicine with doctors who are of the same mind and who are capable, and teaching them how to marry the Gospel with medicine … now, the whole healthcare encounter is a Gospel presentation.”

While Gado has always had a warrior spirit, he said it was awakened, shaped, and encouraged the most during his time at Liberty, where he encountered LU founder Jerry Falwell Sr. and others whose hearts were on fire for the Gospel and displayed how that message can change the world.

“Spiritually and practically, Jerry Falwell has really been a role model to me,” Gado said. “The biggest thing that Liberty has been to me is that it was an incubator for many things. It allowed me to find godly relationships. For the first time in my life, I was meeting people my age who had a deep passion for the Lord and a passion to serve Him. And that, more than anything, is what the Lord used to deepen my faith. I found brothers, a community of believers, who were following hard after the Spirit of Christ.”

Although securing the finances for The Jonah Inheritance is essential to the project’s success, Gado said he is choosing to look back at the example Falwell gave in achieving his own God-given dream.

“I think of Falwell often, and the parallels are amazing,” Gado said. “He had a vision, and he was unwavering. He knew the power his vision had, and what would fuel his vision wasn’t money; it was prayer. (Dr. Falwell) acquired as much land as possible — long before Liberty was even capable of filling that land. But he, in faith, trusted that the Lord was going to bring the vision to fruition, and he literally took that step (of faith).”

Gado said he will continue to visit Nigeria each year until they move there permanently.

“That’s not something that we would have naturally chosen for ourselves; that wasn’t something that I wanted to do,” he said. “But my commitment to the Gospel needs to be unwavering and, in the end, it will be shown to be true just like it has been for Liberty.”

Learn more at

By Jacob Couch, Liberty Journal

Friday, December 16, 2022

Imam Sentenced to Death Over Blasphemy in Nigeria

A Nigerian Shariah court has sentenced a prominent Sufi Muslim cleric to death for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad in a rare capital punishment ruling against an imam.

The Upper Shariah court sentenced Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara for what was seen as his revisionist preaching.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue that can lead to a death sentence in a dozen predominantly Muslim states in northern Nigeria, where Islamic law operates alongside common law.

Death sentences are rarely carried out.

Judge Abdullahi Sarki Yola found Kabara guilty of blasphemy. He had been in custody since his arrest in July 2021.

"This court has established all the charges brought against you and hereby sentences you to death in accordance with Shariah provision on blasphemy," Yola said during the hourlong judgment.

The judge ordered the confiscation of Kabara's two mosques and his personal library.

Kabara sat quietly throughout the judgment in the courtroom packed with lawyers and journalists, with scores of armed police and other paramilitary personnel on guard outside.

Kabara objected to his counsel's plea for leniency and maintained his innocence, calling on his followers to remain calm.

Kabara, from the Qadiriyya Sufi order, has been at odds with other Sunni Muslim clerics in northern Nigeria, particularly ultraconservative Salafi.

Their disagreement stemmed from his approach to Islamic history and theology, which he claims are replete with myths, lies, distortions and concoctions.

Kabara's opponents accused him of insulting the companions of the prophet, some of whom Kabara accused of lying about the prophet, and maliciously portraying him in a bad light.

Kabara's conviction for blasphemy is the third in recent years in Kano.

In August 2020, a Shariah court in the city gave the death penalty to singer Yahaya Aminu Sharif from the Tijjaniyya Sufi order for a song he shared online that was found to have blasphemed the prophet. His case is on retrial.

Abdul Nyass, a Tijjaniyya Sufi Muslim cleric, was sentenced to death in 2015 for blasphemy against the prophet in his preaching. The sentence has not been carried out.

In April, a Kano high court jailed Mubarak Bala, an atheist, to 24 years for blasphemous online posts against the prophet.


Related stories: Mob kills student over ‘blasphemy’ in northern Nigerian college

Nigerian singer sentenced to death for blasphemy in Kano state

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

TikTokers sentenced to lashing in Nigeria for mocking official

Two TikTok stars in Nigeria have been sentenced to a whipping and forced to clean the court after they used social media to mock a government official.

Mubarak Isa Muhammed and Muhammed Bula were found guilty of defaming Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of the northern state of Kano.

The pair's lawyer said they would not challenge the judgement.

Nigeria has seen a growing number of social media stars who use comedy to comment on social and political issues.

Mubarak Isa Muhammad and Muhammad Bala were arrested last week after posting their video - in which they mocked the governor for alleged land grabbing, corruption and sleeping on the job - to TikTok and Facebook.

Prosecution lawyer Wada Ahmed Wada said the men had defamed the governor and that their action was capable of disturbing public peace.

They pleaded guilty and asked for leniency, but the judge ordered them to be given 20 lashes each, to pay a fine of 10,000 naira (£20) and to clean the court premises for 30 days. They were also ordered to publicly apologise to Mr Ganduje on social media.

Their lawyer, Bashir Yusuf, told the BBC they would not challenge the judgement, given it was a ''non-custodial'' sentence - meaning those convicted would not be jailed.

Nigeria has seen a rapid increase in TikTok users in recent years, particularly among young people.

These users sometimes mock public figures, including government officials, by clipping images or videos, often to create comedies that attract massive followers to their accounts.

Kano State, a Muslim-majority part of northern Nigeria, is among about a dozen states in the region that practise the Sharia legal system alongside the country's secular laws. Only Muslims can be tried in Sharia courts.

BBC, By Ishaq Khalid

Related stories: Nigerian singer sentenced to death for blasphemy in Kano state

Outspoken Atheist, Arrested in Nigeria for Blasphemy, Hasn’t Been Seen Since

Friday, August 26, 2022

Cameroon, Nigeria Reopening Border Markets and Schools with Boko Haram Threat Diminished

Governors from Cameroon and Nigeria plan to re-open markets and rebuild schools along their shared border after declaring the area free of Boko Haram militants.

Babagana Umara Zulum, governor of Nigeria’s Borno state, said President Muhammadu Buhari instructed governors of border states affected by Boko Haram to work with neighboring countries to improve living conditions.

He said governors from Cameroon and Nigeria will reopen border markets and rebuild schools in towns and villages where Boko Haram has been defeated.

"We are doing everything possible to ensure that the Banki market is reestablished," Babagana said. "The bringing of cattle from the Republic of Chad to Cameroon, to Nigeria had stopped. My humble self and the governor will go and reopen the cattle route from Gamboru-Ngala. It will improve the economy of Nigeria and improve the economy of Cameroon. By September, we shall be going to Chad and Niger to see how we can improve on our bilateral relationships."

Babagana spoke by a messaging app from Maiduguri, capital of Nigeria's Borno state on Thursday after meeting a delegation led by Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of Cameroon's Far North Region.

He said the Gamboru-Ngala cattle market, which is the largest in northeast Nigeria, was shut down in May 2014 after Boko Haram fighters massacred 300 civilians and abducted 200 people. The market is near Nigeria's border with Cameroon.

Bakari, who is also chairman of the Lake Chad Basin Governors Forum, says he was asked by Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, to visit border localities where Boko Haram has been eliminated.

Bakari said President Biya dispatched his minister of public works to make sure that border roads in areas where Boko Haram has been defeated are repaired to boost cross border trade. He said the Banki market is among several dozen near the Cameroon-Nigeria border that want to collectively reopen.

Bakari said the border markets and schools that were destroyed by Boko Haram will be reopened before December.

He said he had fruitful meetings this week in Nigeria with the governor of Yobe and Borno states. Both states say Boko Haram attacks have been greatly reduced and people can resume their activities.

Cameroon says peace has also returned to a majority of its northern border with Nigeria.

In June the Multinational Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission said its troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad killed more than 800 jihadis in about two months of fighting on the Cameroon-Nigeria border.
The task force was constituted in 2015 to fight Boko Haram and its rival, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).

Cameroon and Nigeria say there is an increase in the number of Boko Haram militants surrendering at disarmament centers since May of 2021 when Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Islamist group, was declared killed.

Last week, President Buhari visited Borno state, the former epicenter of Nigeria's Islamist insurgency, and formally opened 500 units of newly built resettlement houses for people internally displaced by the 13-year Boko Haram conflict.
The United Nations says more than 37,000 people have been killed and about 2.8 million people displaced by the Boko Haram uprising that began in 2009.

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Forgotten bomb kills 13 scrap scavengers in northeast Nigeria

Thirteen scrap-metal collectors in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state have died after a bomb they excavated blew up, security sources told AFP.

Sixteen metal scavengers from a displaced persons’ camp in Bama found the bomb while digging for scrap on Monday in the bush on the outskirts of town.

“The bomb exploded as they were pushing it in a cart toward the town, killing 13 and seriously injuring three,” Babakura Kolo, a leader in a local militia, said on Tuesday.

Kolo said the ordnance had apparently been dropped in 2015 during military operations to retake Bama from the Boko Haram armed group.

“It was dormant for seven years and buried in the sand but they managed to dig it out, not knowing it was a bomb,” said a second militia leader, Bukar Grema, who gave the same toll.

Nigeria’s military is battling to end a 13-year conflict spearheaded by armed groups like Boko Haram in the country’s northeast. It has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced 2.2 million more.

Boko Haram seized Bama in 2014 when they took over swaths of territory in northern Borno and declared a so-called caliphate.

In March 2015, Nigerian troops aided by Chadian soldiers clawed back most of the territory after months-long intensive ground and aerial operations.

Residents who had fled the town returned three years later, with many of them living in displaced camps as the town was substantially destroyed during the fighting to retake it.

Most of the displaced who live in camps rely on food handouts from aid agencies, forcing many to turn to felling trees in the arid region for firewood and scavenging for metal scraps they sell to buy food.

Armed groups have been targeting scrap collectors, accusing them of spying for troops and the militia fighting them.

Last month, fighters from the ISIL-linked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group killed 10 scavengers in Goni Kurmi village near Bama where they had gone looking for metal, a week after they killed 23 collectors in nearby Dikwa district.


Friday, June 10, 2022

Islamic State affiliate suspected of Catholic church massacre, Nigeria says

Nigerian security officials suspect extremists from Islamic State’s affiliate in west Africa were behind an attack on a Catholic church last weekend that killed dozens.

Forty people are now thought to have died after gunmen stormed St Francis Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State, on Sunday, and 61 survivors are still being treated in hospital, according to local authorities. The total is double an earlier estimate.

Nigeria’s National Security Council said on Thursday that the attack was the work of the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) group, apparently reinforcing fears that the militants, who have been restricted to the north-east for many years, are looking to expand their influence and reach to other parts of the country. Ondo, in the south-west, has long been considered one of the safer parts of the country.

Nevertheless, some analysts have counselled caution, noting the absence of any claim of responsibility from Iswap.

“Iswap always claim big attacks, and always ones in the south,” said Vincent Foucher, a research fellow at the CNRS (National Centre of Scientific Research) in Paris. “They want to show they are strong and even expanding so they definitely would claim this one.”

He said, the modus operandi was different. “Most previous Iswap attacks have used hit-and-run tactics, not a big assault team as in this incident.”

Other possible perpetrators include militia involved in local conflicts, violence between farmers and herders, and even criminal networks. In one attack on a church in Anambra state in 2017, police arrested local racketeers and traffickers.

The growing instability of Africa’s most populous nation was underlined by attacks that killed at least 32 people in the rural north-west several days ago.

Armed gangs on motorcycles attacked four villages in the Kajuru area of Kaduna state on Sunday, witnesses said. Poor telecommunications delayed residents from reporting the attacks, as is often the case in parts of northern Nigeria.

Such attacks have become frequent in Nigeria’s troubled north-west, where thousands have been killed, according to data compiled by the US-based Council on Foreign Relations. Residents are often abducted and kept in detention for weeks, usually in forest reserves, until ransoms are paid.

The gunmen in the latest violence were “armed Fulani militia”, one resident said. “That is the language they were speaking. That was their outlook. They are not new to our environment because this is not the first time they were attacking.”

Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslim, have been in conflict with the settled farmers for decades over access to land for grazing. The rivalry has become deadly in recent years as armed gangs attack rural communities.

Neither the police nor Kaduna state officials have yet confirmed the attacks. The limited security presence in many remote communities makes it difficult for government forces to protect residents from the attacks or quickly arrest the perpetrators, analysts say.

Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, has been accused of not doing enough to end the country’s security problems, one of the main campaign promises the former general made when he sought election in 2015. Buhari’s tenure as president ends in May 2023.

Iswap has been unable to fully capitalise on its spectacular victory over the rival extremist group Boko Haram last year.

“They have had mixed fortunes,” Foucher said. “The army has been more active and pretty good at putting them under pressure now that they are the main focus …. They are also facing unexpectedly tough resistance from other extremists.”

By Jason Burke

Related stories: Video - Nigeria church attack: Survivors face grief, trauma

Video - Worshippers gunned down during church service in Nigeria

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Video - Nigeria church attack: Survivors face grief, trauma


Hospitals in southwestern Nigeria say they are running out of supplies to treat survivors of Sunday's attack on a church. Gunmen killed dozens of people as worshippers gathered for Catholic mass in in the town of Owo in Nigeria’s Ondo state. Police say the gunmen who attacked the St Francis Xavier Catholic Church disguised themselves as congregants. The families of the victims say they do not know why a church service was targeted. Africa's most populous country has grappled with severe problems of violence and criminality in the north for more than a decade. But millions may be forced to flee Nigeria if the internal conflict moves south. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack as seven days of national mourning continue. Al Jazeera’s Jillian Wolf reports.

Related story: Video - Worshippers gunned down during church service in Nigeria


Friday, June 3, 2022

Video - Victim's relatives want compensation for lives lost in stampede

Relatives of people who died in a stampede in Nigeria's Port Harcourt that killed at least 31 people now want to be compensated for the loss of lives of their loved ones.

Related story: At least 31 killed, including children, in stampede during charity event in Nigeria