Extremists continue Christian persecution in Nigeria with abduction of Catholic teacher

by mcardinal

Megan Udinski, FISM News



In the latest string of attacks on Christians in Nigeria, a Catholic school teacher was abducted by alleged Islamic extremists a couple of weeks ago.

On August 14, Gideon Tsehemba, a catechist for St. Agnes Catholic Church in Dinya village, in Taraba state’s Gassol County, was kidnapped by suspected members of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), according to the parish priest, Rev. Lawrence Awua.

The priest texted Morning Star News, an independent news agency that focuses solely on Christian persecution, “The ISWAP terrorists broke into the premises of our church on Sunday, as we were already in our bedrooms. They were shooting indiscriminately on the premises of the church. Our catechist, Mr. Gideon Tsehemba, was forcefully dragged out of the church with a gun pointed at him. I was already in my bedroom, but they thought there was no one around except the catechist.”

Awua shared his prayers for the catechist’s safety and noted that the terrorists have not contacted anyone from the church yet.

Earlier in the month, there were two separate attacks resulting in more than 20 Christians killed in Gassol and Bali counties located centrally in Taraba state.

Bali area resident Ayuba Matthew commented, “Constant killings and maiming of innocent Christians by terrorists and herdsmen bandits have become very common here in Taraba state. So also, kidnappings of Christians has become a problem.”

He also reported that the killings and kidnappings displaced nearly 10,000 people from the largely Christian villages of  Karal, Ndiyanwo, Wurojam, Aenama, Garin Karfe, Wuro Jingi, Jauro Manu, Garin Gidado, Gurowa, Karekuka and Chul.

Julius Ishaya, another resident, added that the terrorists also attacked Gassol County villages of Wuro Bokki, Dadin Kowa, Yola-Kareje, Baba Aso, Zip and Namnai, as well as Bali County villages Baba Juli, Garwa, Malam Baba and Bokki. 

Additionally, on August 14 in Borno-Kurku, another Bali County village, believer Tavershima Faga was shot and wounded according to area resident Dorcas Titus.

Titus explains, “Mr. Faga was returning to his home from his church after worship service at about 2 p.m. when the terrorists shot him. He’s currently receiving treatment in a local hospital here.”

Before that, on August 12, bandits attacked the predominantly Christian village of Karekuka, in Gassol County killing 13 people.

Traditionally, ISWAP kept its assaults to the northeastern regions of Nigeria. ISWAP is an offshoot terrorist group of Boko Haram whose name is translated as “Westernization is Sacrilege.” The organization seemed to go dormant for a couple of years until it attacked a Christian-owned market in Taraba state on April 19, killing six Christians and wounding a dozen more.

That assault was quickly followed by another on April 22. 

According to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report for Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith at 4,650. The report also showed it held the highest number of Christians kidnapped at more than 2,500 while only trailing behind China with the number of churches attacked at 470. 

Back in July, the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, cautioned that these attacks might not be solely the work of ISWAP. He stated, “I expect that if ISWAP had done this all this while, they would have come out and owned up but some of us have our fears that it is not ISWAP and we do not agree with that position.” He continued, “But whatever it is, we stand by the position that it’s a trilogy that is operating in our forests and causing havoc, we just have Fulani herdsmen right in front, followed by these bandits, and again ISWAP; so the three of them work together, and they work separately.”

News like this is a great reminder to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world who risk death every day for their faith, especially those residing in Nigeria.