Muslim Extremists Threaten to Kill Christian Family in Nigeria

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Vigilantes assault father of daughter who allegedly sold pork.

by Obed Minchakpu

LAGOS, Nigeria, July 25 (Compass) -- A band of Muslim militants, which had pronounced a death sentence on a Christian family because one of its young members allegedly sold pork, has assaulted her 57-year-old father, Emma Osagie.

The extremists came to the family patriarch’s home in the town of Ikorodu, Lagos state, looking for his 16-year-old daughter, Bridget Osagie, on July 15.

“Fortunately, we had already sent her into hiding,” the elder Osagie said. “I was beaten up, but the timely intervention of our Christian neighbors saved me. [The militants] left vowing to come back.”

Osagie said that he has reported the assault to police, but that they have done nothing. The attacks on the family and the death sentence, he said, have come even though his daughter never sold pork.

The group has attacked the family several times since Muslims in Ikorodu accused Osagie’s daughter of selling pork against Islamic law (sharia). The militants originally made the allegation in 1993 -- when his daughter was just 4 years old.

The extremists have beaten each member of his family at one time or another, but authorities have done nothing to assist them or arrest those responsible. Sharia is not in effect in the southern state of Lagos, as it is in 12 northern states of the country.

“My fear is that anywhere they see our daughter they will kill her,” he added. “We have been forced to hide her. She cannot go to school, attend church service, or even move out.”

The family’s pastor, the Rev. John Alabia, has tried without success to intervene. “He even arranged a meeting with the Muslim leaders here, where we decided to dialogue with them over the issue,” Osagie said. “But they are bent in killing the members of our family.”

The family has petitioned the Nigerian government over the matter, but it has given no serious attention to it.

“If something is not done urgently to check the menace of these Muslim militants, then our lives are not safe in Ikorodu,” he told Compass.

Muslim leaders in the Ikorodu area declined to comment to Compass.

Twelve states of northern Nigeria have declared themselves to be under sharia, even though the country’s constitution prohibits application of it to criminal matters; it may be applied only to domestic matters such as marriage and inheritances. Nearly half of Nigeria’s 128.8 million people are Muslims, and almost 40 percent of the population is Christian. The rest are animists and other indigenous religions.