Compass Direct (04/21/06) The latest attack on the Rt. Rev. Ali Buba Lamido, 47, Anglican bishop of Wusasa diocese in Kaduna state, began as the past years previous three did: Armed men whom he believes were Muslim militants asked a guard at his home where he was, announcing they were going to kill him.
Not concerned about stealth in heavily Islamic Kaduna state, the attackers fired into the air, then struck the bishops workers in the courtyard. This time, last March 10, one of his guards guests, Samaila Gandu, was shot dead. Guard James Daso and another worker, Bulus Moses, were seriously injured.
This scenario matches other instances in which Muslim militants have assaulted Christian clergy, Lamido said.
It is difficult to believe that it was not religiously motivated, because some bishops have been attacked and one priest was murdered in a similar way, he said. And the killers never stole any thing from their houses.
Likewise, Lamido told Compass at his Wusasa office, the four attacks on his house since April 2005 have involved no attempted robbery. In my own case, I am the only Fulani Christian leader in the country, and I assume this has provoked many Muslim leaders, he said. In the whole Wusasa village, it is only my house that has been attacked each time and not any other.
Based near the city of Zaria , Lamido presides over the Wusasa diocese of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), where 98 percent of his denominations church members come from northern Nigeria s indigenous Hausa community. Christians are in the minority among the ethnic Hausa and Fulani, both mainly Muslim, of northern Nigeria .
Lamido has been among the few outspoken Christian leaders in northern Nigeria persistently decrying persecution of Christians. The invasions of his home, many believe, are connected with his outspoken stance.
The bishop said he knew the attackers definitely intended to gun him down, as they had told the guards this. The alleged militants interviewed them on where I was, he said.
Lamido told Compass that police have not made any arrests in connection with the attacks.
Son of a Muslim Cleric
As the only Fulani tribesman from an Islamic background who is a bishop in the global Anglican Communion, Lamino presides over a diocese that has 160 congregations with an estimated 60,000 members, 60 priests and 30 lay evangelists.
His father was a Muslim cleric, and his Muslim mother still teaches the Quran to Muslims, he said.
Born into the Fulani Lamido dynasty of Adamawa State in northern Nigeria , Lamido at age 5 was taken away from his parents by his aunt, Mary Musa. Her husband was a Muslim chaplain with the Nigerian army before both became Christians. Persecution forced the Musas to leave their Kano military base and move to Vom village, a Christian missions hub in central Nigeria s Plateau state.
Lamido, who had been a Quranic student while staying with his aunt, was exposed to the gospel and eventually received Jesus Christ at age 15, with his aunt leading him in prayer.
The bishop received his theological education at the Christian Institute in Jos, the Jos ECWA Theological Seminary, the University of Jos , and the Episcopal School for Ministry in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania .
Water Shut Off
Working as a Christian minister in an Islamic dominated part of northern Nigeria , Lamido said, has been difficult in terms of personal relationship, societal acceptance and gospel proclamation.
He has witnessed massive destruction of churches and killing of Christians in Kaduna state in the past seven years.
Two of our churches in Gindandau and Galadimawa, in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area, were burnt, and the one in Gindandau is yet to be rebuilt, Lamido said. That was the only church in Gindandau.
The Anglican church in Makarfi town, the hometown of the Kaduna state Gov. Ahmad Muhammad Makarfi, was also burned down. All of these churches, he said, were destroyed by Muslim militants in the 2001 riots in Kaduna state.
His home church, he said, had five of her members killed in the city of Kaduna , while a teacher in the churchs school was also killed in Zaria city.
Besides denying land for building churches, another problem facing the states Christian communities is the denial of social services like water, schools, clinics, and roads to them by Muslim council officials.
In the past 19 years, water supply to Wusasa has been blocked by the Kaduna State Water Board, Lamido said. In fact, this is my ninth year in Wusasa and I have not seen a drop of water to drink. Yet, there is constant water being supplied to Muslim areas of Zaria City .
Lamido and other Christians in Wusasa get water from wells and boreholes dug by churches in Wusasa, he said, as pipe-born water has been blocked since 1987, after religious crisis of that year in Kaduna state.
In spite of the opposition of Muslim leaders to Christian evangelization efforts in Zaria and beyond, there are Muslims who desire to embrace the Christian faith, Lamido said.
Despite the difficulties, he said, there is mass acceptance of the gospel and embrace of Jesus as Lord and Savior by people, even among Muslims.
Lamido says Islams resistance to the gospel in northern Nigeria is more of a political problem than rejection of Christianity by the common Muslims as according to him, there are Muslims who want to become Christians but they fear persecution from their leaders.
Some of about 100 Muslim converts at his church in Wusasa, he said, have been brought in by Anglican churches in Zamfara, Katsina and other states where persecution is grave. His church is caring for them and teaching them the Bible, and some of them have been enrolled in schools.
We have 100 Muslim converts here; 10 of them were brought in here from Zamfara and Katsina, Lamido said. We have integrated them into the church and enrolled some of them in our primary schools, since most of them did not have the privilege of receiving western education. We are concerned about their safety, as some them were dispossessed of their property when they became Christians.
The largest problem confronting the church, he said, is how to protect these converts from dangers from Muslim militants.
In spite of the difficulties, there are Muslims who are prepared to receive Christ, he said. The problem is where to keep them, because of the nature of intense persecution in this part of the country.
The Church Missionary Society (CMS) of the Church of England began missions work in Wusasa village in 1900. Missionaries focused on the Muslim-influenced Hausa ethnic group.
The Hausas who embraced Christianity and rejected Islam were then referred to as the Maguzawas, a name in Hausa language depicting them as those who ran away from Islam.
Based on the work of these missionaries in Wusasa, Lamido said, the first medical doctor, pharmacist, female ambassador, and a host of other first-time positions in northern Nigeria originated in the Wusasa church.
Early Nigerian missionaries who continued with the evangelization after the exit of the CMS missionaries, Lamido says, include Malam Zakaria Dimka and Malam Kwashi, father of the present Anglican Bishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi.