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Islamic Extremists Kidnap 4 Catholic Nuns, Shoot Christian Lawyer Dead in Nigeria


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Islamic extremists in southern Nigeria abducted four nuns on Sunday, three days after suspected Fulani herdsmen shot and killed a Christian attorney in the country's northwest, according to reports. 

Benedict Azza, director of the legal department of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Zamfara State Chapter, was killed on Aug. 18. Two gunmen shot him in Gussau, capital of Zamfara state, residents told Morning Star News.

According to media reports, the gunmen attempted to kidnap Azza, but he escaped in his vehicle. The suspected kidnappers pursued him and shot him three times, leaving his body on the road. 

"His corpse was abandoned by the roadside in the town," said Luka Maitausayi in a text message to Morning Star. He asserted that the gunmen were Fulani herdsmen. "It is our prayer that God comforts his family and the church."

Azza was from Yelewatta, Makurdi, Benue state. He attended the University of Jos and Nigerian Law School in Kano in 2008. He was married to Izuagie Rachael and the couple was blessed with children, according to the Daily Post

As CBN News has reported over the years, the Fulani herdsmen, also known as the Fulani militia, are often radical Muslims who target Christians in their relentless attacks on villages across the West African country.

They were early adopters of Islam, participating in holy wars, or jihads, in the 16th century that established them as a dominant social and economic force in Western Africa, according to WorldWatch Monitor.

Four Catholic Nuns Kidnapped

Meanwhile, in Imo state in southeastern Nigeria, Islamic extremists working with Fulani herdsmen kidnapped four Roman Catholic nuns while they were traveling in the Okigwe-Umulolo area. 

Johannes Nwodo, Christabel Echemazu, Liberata Mbamalu, and Benita Agu were abducted while "on their way for a thanksgiving Mass of one of our sisters," according to the Rev. Sister Zita Ihedoro, secretary-general of the Sisters of Jesus the Saviour. "We implore for intense prayer for their quick and safe release."

Nigerian Government Accused of Failing to Protect Christians

Emmanuel Onwubiko, the national coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), said that recurrent killings and kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria are a sign of failure for President Muhammadu Buhari.

"It is worrisome that despite the killing of over 12 Catholic priests in 2022 and the abduction of scores of Catholic priests all over the country, the present regime, and security agencies have left the ugly trend to continue," Onwubiko said in a statement.

The Nigerian government's inaction isn't the only concern. The Catholic News Agency reports the regime is going after a journalist who reported on a massacre of Nigerian Christians. 

Luka Binniyat wrote an article accusing the Nigerian government of failing to protect Christians, and now he has been arrested after that report. The government is charging him with "cyberstalking." 

Robert Destro, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the Trump administration, told CNA the Nigerian government is working to suppress journalists who speak out about the massacres of Christians.

Persecution of Christians in Nigeria Spikes Yet Again

According to the Open Doors' 2022 World Watch List, Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith last year (Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021) at 4,650, up from 3,530 the previous year. 

The number of kidnapped Christians was also highest in Nigeria, at more than 2,500, up from 990 the previous year, according to the report.

In addition, Nigeria trailed only China in the number of churches attacked with 470 incidents.

Nigeria jumped to seventh place, its highest ranking ever, in the World Watch List from No. 9 the previous year.

"Christians continue to be attacked indiscriminately and brutally in northern Nigeria, and Nigeria's rank has risen accordingly," the report said. "The violence has continued unabated."

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