Two Converts to Christianity Face Death in Nigeria

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

by Obed Minchakpu

MADA, Nigeria (Compass) -- Two Nigerian Muslims who converted to the Christian faith in Mada village of northern Nigeria's Zamfara state are missing, possibly at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists seeking to kill them for changing their faith.

Former Muslims Lawani Yakubu and Mohammed Ali Ja'afaru were arrested by members of an Islamic monitoring group set up by the government of Zamfara state to ensure strict compliance to Islamic law (sharia). They were taken to a sharia court in Mada on charges of converting to Christianity.

The sharia monitoring group insisted that the two Christians must be sentenced to death in accordance with the teachings of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam.

However, the presiding judge of the sharia court, Awal Jabaka, rejected on April 24 the demands of the Islamic monitoring group for a death sentence verdict, and instead ruled "improper jurisdiction."

"Even though the punishment for conversion from Islam to any other religion is death, the Zamfara state sharia penal code has no provision for a change of religion," the judge said.

Not satisfied with the decision of the court, the sharia monitoring group allegedly decided to kill the two converts anyway. Now the location of the two Christians is unknown. Local authorities told Compass they are not in police custody.

Christian leaders in Gussau, in Zamfara state, are trying to trace the whereabouts of the two converts and, if necessary, rescue them.

Pastor David Ishaya, Chairman of the Christian Complaints Committee of the Zamfara State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, told Compass, "Ever since the introduction of sharia in this state, we have not known peace. Daily, we are assaulted without cause. We are second-class citizens here because we are Christians."

Copyright 2002, Compass News Direct.