By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - The governor of Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kaduna has condemned the killings of a prominent Christian leader and his teenage son by suspected Islamic Fulani militants.
Nasir El-Rufai referred to victims Haruna Kuye, a community leader of a predominantly Christian Kaduna village, and his teenage son, Destiny Kuye. They were killed when armed men entered their home in the early hours of November 17, Christian aid workers told Worthy News.
Kuye’s wife and daughter were both injured in the attack and treated in hospital, said Barnabas Fund, a Christian charity.
The governor’s comments condemning the murders of both Christians were in sharp contrast to televised remarks in August. In the tv interview, he reportedly blamed Kaduna Christians for "organizing" killings that Fulani militants allegedly carried in Mazaki village in Zangon Kataf local government area.
The Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) called the murders of Christians in southern Kaduna an “abhorrent crime.” The advocacy organization said it is “saddened by the spiraling wave of kidnapping and killings.”
Earlier in October, 5 Fulani militants killed the acting village head and five others in Wereng, Plateau State, Christians told Worthy News.
The incidents raised to at least 237 the death toll from Fulani militant attacks on Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region since early July, according to Barnabas Fund estimates. In an open letter, SOKAPU has urged the International Criminal Court in The Hague to act against the “pernicious genocide” in the area.
Governor El-Rufai shared those concerns. “Evil and violation of the sanctity of life and destruction of property by enemies of peace must be made to face the full weight of the law,” he wrote.
However, well-informed Christian advocacy group Open Doors suggested that these are no isolated attacks. “Christians in the northern region and the Middle Belt suffer from violence perpetrated by Islamic extremist groups such as militant Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram. Such violence often results in loss of life, physical injury, as well as a loss of property,” it explained in a recent report.
“As a result of the violence, Christians are also being dispossessed of their land and means of livelihood. And Christians with a Muslim background also face rejection from their own families,” Open Doors noted. “The situation is especially difficult for converts from Islam to Christianity.”
Amid the turmoil, increasing numbers of Christians in some northern states “are dressing like Muslims to make their faithless obvious and reduce the chances of attack,” Open Doors added.
Besides violence, young Christians in these states are reportedly frequently denied access to higher education.
Additionally, “Christians have been asked to give up their faith to obtain work. Applications for permits to build churches are ignored,” Open Doors said.
Christians comprise slightly less than half of the nation’s 224 million population, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Most people in Nigeria are Muslims, official statistics show.