Nigerian pastor’s elderly wife murdered over “blasphemy” claims; concern over increasing attacks on Christians in Nigeria

Bridget Agbahime, a 74 year old market trader and wife of Pastor Mike Agbahime, was murdered on 2 June 2016 by an angry mob in Kano state, north-west Nigeria. Five Muslim men were arrested and charged over the brutal attack, though according to witnesses four others remain at large. According to the clerk of Kano Magistrate’s Court reading the charges on 10 June, when the men were arraigned for trial on 28 June, one man burst into the shop of the late Mrs Bridget Agbahime and then alongside other accomplices, brutalised and held her hands and shouted, “Allahu akbar [God is great],” accusing her of blaspheming the prophet Mohammed. The court heard that this cry of “Allahu akbar” from one man attracted other accomplices, all of whom accosted the elderly woman. The attack resulted in her death.

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the murder and has vowed that justice will be done. He commended the authorities for apprehending the prime suspect behind the killing, and praised the Kano state government which had immediately summoned a meeting of Christian and Islamic leaders, Mrs Agbahime’s widower and security agencies in an attempt to avoid any escalation of violence in the region.

The public relations officer of the Northern Christian Association of Nigeria, Reverend John Hayab, has expressed concern about the manner in which Christians are being attacked in Northern Nigeria by Islamic fanatics. He said that that the Federal Government should do everything in its power to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Earlier, on May 31, 2016, also in Kaduna, three Christians were killed by Muslim Fulani herdsman while they were sleeping. This had been preceded by another incident in the same area, in which three Muslim Fulani herdsmen had attacked a 55-year-old Christian on May 25, 2016.

While attacks against Christians by Fulani herdsmen have taken place previously, what is worrying Christian leaders is that Islamic extremists groups are now arming and sometimes accompanying the herdsmen in their attacks against Christian farmers in the region.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), released a statement on 12 June 2016, signed by Christian leaders in 19 states. The statement called on the government to ensure protection for persecuted Christians in the north after a spate of attacks and killings. ”The perpetrators of these evil acts must be fished out with their gangs and made to face the full wrath of the law to serve as deterrence to others who might be nursing such ambition to carry out dastardly act in the nearest future.” the statement read.

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