Pastor and Six Family Members Burned to Death in Nigeria

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Christian Leaders Suspect Muslim Fanatics of Fatal Arson Attack
by Obed Minchakpu
May 6, 2003

KANO, Nigeria (Compass) -- A zealous Christian preacher in the northern Nigeria city of Kano and six members of his family died in a house fire on April 22. Christian leaders in the city believe Muslim militants deliberately set the fatal blaze.

Pastor Sunday Madumere and his family were asleep in the early hours of the morning when flames engulfed their home, located on Apple Avenue in an area of Kano known as no-man’s land.

Eyewitnesses told Compass that the pastor’s wife and three children died with him in the inferno, along with two men believed to be relatives of Madumere.

Pastor Madumere’s son Daniel reportedly managed to escape before being trapped in the house with other members of the family. Christopher Ahiante, a neighbor of the family, said that Daniel Madumere sustained serious injuries and is presently in critical condition in a local hospital.

According to Ahiante, “It took well over two hours before the fire was brought under control by the men of the Nigerian Fire Service.”

Pastor Madumere is known for his powerful preaching, which has led many Muslims in Kano to convert to the Christian faith. Observers believe the conversions may have angered Muslim militants in the city and they decided to eliminate him.

Police authorities say the fire may have been caused by an electrical fault. Christian leaders, however, have ruled out that theory, insisting that the pastor and his family were victims of religious intolerance.

“This incident is not the first of its kind here,” said Rev. Gabriel Ojo of the First Baptist Church in Kano city. “A number of Christians here and their leaders have been killed in the past by Muslim fanatics.”

Rev. Ojo said that some years ago, extremists murdered Gideon Akaluka, a Christian, and carried his severed head through the streets. To date, government authorities have failed to punish the killers.

Bishop Nyam of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, added, “Since the adoption of the Islamic legal system here, we have been forced into difficult situations. Christians have suffered because Muslim fanatics have taken the law into their hands.”

“We are not surprised at all about this incident,” he added. “We saw it coming.”