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Priest Recounts Kidnapping, Torture by Fulani Militants

12/02/2021 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) –Father Bako Francis Awesuh of Kaduna State was kidnapped along with ten of his parishioners on the night of May 16th, 2021. Recently, he described his ordeal in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need.

“I heard gunshots and I quickly turned off the television set,” he told the news source. “I saw five bulky Fulani herdsmen who were well-armed; I recognized them by their dress and by the way they spoke.”

Father Awesuh explained that the Fulani broke down his door and forced themselves inside.

“One of the men pushed me to the floor, tied me up and flogged me mercilessly, saying ka ki ka bude mana kofa da tsori (‘you are getting tortured because you kept us standing outside for so long and refused to open the door when we were knocking’). They stripped me naked down to my shorts.”

The Fulani militants brought Father Awesuh and ten of his parishioners into the bush, where they trekked for three days with little food, and no water.

“On the third day, we arrived at a camp deep in the forest. In that camp, there was a small hut where they kept us.”

“We were not allowed to bathe throughout our captivity. We had to urinate and defecate in the hut. We were smelling like dead bodies and the hut smelled like a mortuary.”

Father Awesuh said that he and the group were tortured and threatened with death, if their families were unable to pay the $120,000 ransom.

At one point, three parishioners died trying to save the group after tracking down their route.

“Oh, what sorrow to have watched three of my parishioners shot dead in cold blood, right before my eyes—and I couldn’t do anything,” he said.

“At this point, I felt helpless, hopeless, useless, and restless! I urgently craved for death to take me, as the scene of the killings kept playing in my head. I couldn’t pray because of the shock I was in. Whenever I opened my mouth to pray, words failed me. All I could say was ‘Lord have mercy.’”

Eventually, the families of the victims were able to pay a reduced ransom of $17,000. After one month and five days in captivity, the group was freed.

“I narrowly escaped death,” said the Father. “I know of so many priests kidnapped before and after me who were killed even after a ransom was paid.”

“Fulani attacks have become very common in Kaduna state. I am therefore calling on the international community to please come to our rescue.”

Militant Fulani herdsmen continue to terrorize Christian communities in Nigeria and have surpassed Boko Haram as the greatest threat to believers in the country. Despite this, the Nigerian government and much of the international community continue to say that there is no religious basis for the violence taking place. This blindness is part of the reason that Nigeria continues to rank in the top ten of Open Door’s World Watch List.

Please join us in praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, for the Lord to strengthen the Nigerian church and heal His persecuted children of their trauma. Please also pray for the world to recognize the scale of the suffering that believers are having to endure in Nigeria, as well as for the souls of those who persecute the church, that all will repent and find salvation in Christ.

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