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6/26/07 Nigeria (CSW)

Dear Friends,

We are asking for prayers for the Christians of Gombe in northern Nigeria.

Following the tragic murder of school teacher Christianah Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin at Gandu Government Day Secondary School on 21 March this year; the quest to bring her killers to justice goes on.

Mrs. Oluwasesin was stoned, stripped, beaten, and stabbed to death before her body was burnt by an angry mob after a Muslim student falsely accused her of having torn a copy of the Quran while invigilating an exam.

After initially releasing all of the suspects involved in her death, it recently transpired that the police have arrested several suspects. The group may include a notorious gang member, called the “Angel of Death,” who inflicted the fatal stab wounds. A trial date has been set for the 23rd of July.

Bishop Henry Ndukuba, chairman of the Gombe chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) informed CSW that the situation in Gombe is exceedingly tense following these arrests. While his organisation is “working to see that those arrested are put before a court,” members of the Muslim community do not want a trial to take place. After the arrests became common knowledge Muslim students from two schools poured out onto the streets, attacking people and properties, and declaring they would not tolerate the trial of anyone deemed responsible for Mrs Oluwasesin’s death. They threatened to destroy churches and kill Christians should a trial go ahead.

In the aftermath of Mrs. Oluwasesin’s death, the mob that attacked her was heard chanting the names of other Christian teachers, prompting fears that similar attacks could take place. Concerned for their safety, Christian teachers began a strike last Thursday, stating they were withdrawing their services until the government ensured their security and there was justice for Mrs Oluwasesin. Following extensive talks with between CAN and state government officials, including the Minister of Education and the police commissioner, the state government has now assured the teachers that they will be protected.

“We want some people to be held responsible for the terrible death of this innocent woman,” said Bishop Ndukuba. “It has not been easy for us. Every other year since 1989 one thing or the other has occurred. In 2002 one Christian student was even killed. We cannot continue like this. When someone is held responsible and pays a price, others will learn. Enough is enough. We must never again be slaves in our own country.”

In the meantime, the Bishop has requested prayer for the Christians of Gombe.

Please Pray:

• That those responsible for Mrs Oluwasesin’s brutal murder would be swiftly brought to justice; that the trial would be fair, unbiased, and that it would herald an end to the indiscriminate attacks on Christians that have regularly taken place in the area over the years.

• That there will be no further violent incidents in reaction to the case being brought to trial.

• That Christians (particularly teachers) throughout northern and central Nigeria will be kept safe despite the repeated threats against them.