This blog features quite a bit of Nigeriana, especially about Christian-Muslim relations. The reason is that my wife and I have spent 30 years in that country as missionaries and published quite a number of books about it. You can go to the Boeriana and Islamica pages of our website
< www.SocialTheology.com/ >.
So, this post is no exception. Unfortunately, those relations have mostly been negative, tense, hostile and even violent. The details of that can be found on the above Islamica page.
Today's story is a typical one. If it were exceptional, I would not pass it on, but its typical nature requires that I do. This is an example of what has been going on for years, for decades. You would think that with all the blood shed over the past 50 years or so, someone would get tired and reason would pop up to put a stop to all this, but no, it just goes on and on and on....
While I often encourage you, readers, to enjoy the post you are reading, I cannot do so today. Rather, I can only encourage you to weep as you read and to pray for peace and tolerance.
But there is another side to it. In today's story, Christians rightly feel persecuted. However, so do Muslims, at least the apparent majority of Nigerian Muslims who constitute nearly half of the 180 million population of the country. To them, a secular constitution is a form of persecution of Muslims, for they want sharia law, not Western secular law. Most Christians do not seem to understand that. It is a much more complicated picture than most Christians realize. Muslims persecute Christians; semi-secular Christians persecute Muslims. Neither one recognizes its contribution to the impasse.
So far my comments. Now proceed to read the following story, but be sure to have a bundle of napkins at hand.
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 439 | Wed 24 Jan 2018
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NIGERIA'S CONVERSION CRISES: ECHOES OF EGYPT
-- plus Update on Syria
by Elizabeth Kendal
Nigerians Miss Nabila Umar Sanda (19) and Engineer Simput Eagles Dafup (33)
met and exchanged contact details in Dubai four years ago. A few years later,
as Nabila (a Muslim) was studying at Bingham University - a Church-owned
university in Karu, in Nigeria's central Nasarawa State - she decided that
she wanted to become a follower of Jesus Christ too. When Nabila learned that
Simput Dafup was going to be in Jos, Plateau State, over Christmas (2017),
she re-connected with him and arranged to meet him there. When Nabila told
Simput that she wanted to convert to Christianity, he asked about her family,
in particular her father who is a powerful Muslim elder and a traditional
title holder in Biu, Borno State. Nabila told Simput that as she was 19, she
was entitled to choose her own religion and would do so regardless of
obstacles. However, Simput remained concerned, so on Monday 8 January he and
Nabila sought advice and assistance frSanda Nabila Umar, Eagles Simput, Bimngham Uom local church leader, Pastor Jeremiah Datim. Cognisant of the delicacy of the situation, Pastor Datim decided it
was best to follow protocol and contact the umbrella group for the Muslim
community in Nigeria, Jama'atu Nasril lslam (JNI), to inform them of Nabila's
decision to convert, in the hope they might smooth the way forward. When
Nabila's parents were informed, her furious father vowed revenge and
requested intervention by the Department of State Security Services (DSS).
Later that day, DSS officers stormed Pastor Jeremiah Datim's home, assaulted
his wife and children and abducted Nabila. They also violently abducted
Simput Dafup from his home and arrested Daniel Hassan, the taxi driver who
had driven Nabila from Abuja to Jos. At a press conference in Jos on Saturday
13 January Pastor Jeremiah Datim clarified the constitutional issue at the
heart of the crisis. 'I want to state,' he said, 'for the avoidance of doubt,
that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees the right
to anyone to propagate his faith and the right also to practise any religion
of one's choice.' Simput Dafup's widowed mother, Lydia then appealed for
information on her son's whereabouts. 'My son,' she said, 'a quiet gentleman
par excellence, was on Monday, January 8, 2018, brutalised, tortured and
whisked away from his residence in Jos by men we suspect were from the DSS
for allegedly converting one Miss Nabila Umar Sanda from Islam to
Though no charges had been laid and no arrest warrants issued, the DSS is
alleging that Nabila was abducted in Abuja, held captive in Jos and forcibly
converted to Christianity. This echoes the 'Camilia' myth promulgated by
Islamists in Egypt [see: RLPB 082 (17 Nov 2010)]. The accusation comes as the
Voice of Northern Christian Movement of Nigeria (VNCMN) is pressuring the
government of President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the abduction of some
100 Christian girls. VNCMN Executive Director, Pastor Kallamu Musa Ali Dikwa,
explains: 'Muslims have abducted 100 Christian girls under the age of 18 and
forcefully converted them to lslam and we have reported to security agencies
severally but no arrest was made or return of Christian girls to their
parents ... .' Thus the whole context mirrors that of Egypt [see: RLPB 398,
'Bring Back Our Coptic Girls' (15 March 2017)]. But Nigeria is not Egypt!
Nigeria is a democracy with a secular Constitution where Christians comprise
at least 51 percent. Tensions are soaring.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has slammed the DSS
for 'acting as some kind of "Islamic religious police" ... We call on the
National Assembly to call ... the [Director-General] of DSS to desist from
using public offices to promote and canvass the interests of a particular
religious group which are direct affronts to the Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria which absolutely prohibits the elevation of one religion
as state religion'.
[In a separate incident, on 15 January DSS officers similarly (i.e.,
violently and without a warrant) attempted to arrest Jos preacher Isa El-Buba
after he criticised President Buhari in a nationally broadcast sermon. Church
members resisted, forcing the DSS to withdraw. For details on this and the
Islamisation of Nigeria, see Religious Liberty Monitoring, 24 Jan 2018.]