Nigeria: Four Women Abducted As Kaduna State Kidnapping Crisis Continues

By Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW UK Office)
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One person was killed, another was injured, and four women were abducted when armed men of Fulani ethnicity attacked the Sunday service of a Baptist church in a village in Chikun Local Government Area (LGA) in southern Kaduna state on 25 April. Kaduna is increasingly becoming the epicentre of kidnapping and banditry activity in Nigeria.

According to CSW’s sources, heavily armed militia men attacked Haske Baptist Church in Manini village, killing Mr Zacharia Dogon Yaro, a community extension health worker at the Kaduna State Ministry of Health, and injuring Mr Shehu Haruna. The gunmen also abducted Charity Musa, Rose Zacharia, Alheri Bala and Liatu Zakka, a widow whose husband was murdered in an earlier attack.

Two days earlier, the bodies of three students who had been seized by armed assailants of Fulani origin during a 20 April attack on Greenfield University, a private institution situated close to the Kaduna-Abuja highway in Chikun LGA, were found in Kwanan Bature village, close to the university. Dorathy Tirnom Yohanna, Precious Nwakacha and Abubakar Sadiq Yusuf Mu’azu Sanga were among twenty students and three members of staff abducted in the attack, in which one staff member was killed. Their assailants had threatened to murder three students each day if their demand for N800 million (approximately 1.5 million GBP) was not met, and had reportedly rejected an offer of N15 million (approximately 28,000 GBP) made by the university and parents.

Despite being the headquarters of 11 military installations, Kaduna state has become an epicentre of kidnapping, with levels of insecurity in some areas almost matching those in the north east. A CSW source said: “The kidnappers are expanding their activities, particularly in the rural areas. We are like prisoners. We can hardly step out of the city. Once you’re on the road your heart is in your mouth until you reach your destination.”

At around 2am on 23 April, gunmen attacked Unguwan Mission, Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru LGA, kidnapping eight people, including a Seventh Day Adventist church leader. They have demanded N30 million (around 57,000 GBP) for their release. On 21 April gunmen attacked Idon General Hospital, also in Kajuru LGA, and abducted nurses Afiniki Bako and Grace Nkut, despite the hospital being in relatively close proximity to a military checkpoint.

On 20 April, 67 people from the Adara community were abducted from Libere Gari Village in the Kallah Ward of Kajuru LGA during a raid that occurred at around 11pm in which Fulani militia men were able to operate for two hours unhindered. In a statement released on 23 April, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union ( SOKAPU ) reported that those abducted were predominantly children, and included around nine women and six men. Among them is the village head, Mr Bala Yero, who was abducted along with 15 members of his family. Ten abductees managed to escape the next day.

Additionally, 29 of the 39 students who were abducted on 12 March from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation on the outskirts of the state capital have now spent over 45 days in captivity. Their kidnappers have released videos in which the students were being mistreated, and are demanding a N500 million (around 945,000 GBP) ransom. These abductions occurred in close proximity to military installations and marked the fourth mass kidnapping of students for ransom in Nigeria since December 2020. On 26 April Nigerian media reported that Ibrahim Shamaki, the father of abducted student Fatima Shamaki, had died of a heart attack having fallen ill shortly after hearing of his daughter’s abduction. Those holding the 29 students are thought to be the same armed faction that attacked Greenfield University.

In response to the spate of abductions, the Governor of Kaduna called for citizens to unite against “the forces of darkness challenging national security and the very existence of the Nigerian state,” and reiterated his recent decision to no longer pay ransoms, adding that “nobody living in the forest is innocent, and we must kill them all.”

Despite these assertions, and the presence of 11 military cantonments and institutions in the state, no attackers have been brought to justice so far. In contrast, 15 leaders from the Atyap Chiefdom in Zangon Kataf LGA in Southern Kaduna, including 85-year-old Elder Waje Laah, have been detained arbitrarily in the Kaduna State Police Command Headquarters since 31 March. They are accused of killing 706 cows and 75 rams belonging to Fulani communities in a single day and burying them in a ditch, and have allegedly suffered mistreatment whilst in detention. Yet, according to SOKAPU, “not less than 100 Atyap natives have been killed and about 24 Atyap villages burnt and hundreds of hectares of farmland bearing growing food crops destroyed by Fulani cows since July last year.”

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our deepest condolences to the families of Mr Dogon Yaro, Dorathy Tirnom Yohanna, Precious Nwakacha and Abubakar Sadiq Yusuf Mu’azu Sanga. Tragically, the lives of ordinary Nigerians have been commoditised by armed groups which abduct and brutalise them on an almost daily basis. The alarm has been raised repeatedly with regard to the highly concerning situation in Kaduna state for several years, yet the state government, federal authorities and members of the international community still appear reluctant to make any meaningful interventions. We call once again on Nigeria to address the kidnapping crisis as a matter of urgency, ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice. We also urge the international community to hold Nigeria to account, ensuring that the government concentrates its efforts on protecting vulnerable citizens, rather than targeting innocent individuals such as the Atyap leaders. Their continuing detention on questionable charges while perpetrators of violence that indeed threatens “the very existence of the Nigerian state,” enjoy apparent impunity gives the unfortunate impression that wellbeing of livestock is being prioritised over the welfare of Nigerian citizens.”