Five Christians On Trial in Nigeria

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

by Obed Minchakpu
June 12, 2001

KANO, Nigeria (Compass) -- Five Nigerian Christians -- two priests and three church members -- are currently facing trial for assisting two Christian girls who escaped from arranged marriages.

The two girls, Rekiya and Dije Garba, 16 and 17, were to be forcefully married to Muslims by their father, Malam Garba Chiroma of Tudun Wada town in northern Nigeria's Kano state. The father is a convert to Islam.

The Rt. Rev. Zakka Nyam, the Anglican bishop of Kano, said the Christian defendants are members of the Anglican Communion in Tudun Wada. The two priests on trial are Canon Musa Haruna and Ishaya Idi. The three church members are relatives of the two girls.

Bishop Nyam told Compass the girls ran away from their home after sensing that their father was going to marry them to Muslims, meaning the girls would be forced to change their faith to Islam.

Pastor Idi said the girls "were practicing Christians. But four years ago, their father converted to Islam and insisted that the girls should also embrace Islam. However, they refused. The girls were forcefully taken to the houses of the Muslim cleric, the imam, and the district head of the area. The girls, after a period of time, escaped and took shelter in the church, and we handed them over to their aunt, who is a Christian. But today, we are being tried in court for abducting these girls."

The five Christians were brought before the Gyadi-Gyadi Magistrate Court on May 17 and charged with abduction. The Christians are free on bail while the trial proceeds. The Kano Diocese of the Anglican Church has hired four lawyers to defend the Christians. Bishop Nyam said that what is going on in this case is a clear example of what Christians are experiencing under "sharia" (Islamic law).

"Sharia is spreading everywhere ... and Christians here are becoming frightened," he told Compass on May 23.

Copyright © 2001 Compass Direct News Service. Used with permission.