A Christian pastor and his pregnant wife were killed on their farm in northeastern Nigeria last week, the latest victims in a series of abductions and killings of Christians in the country.
Gunmen shot dead Pastor Emmanuel Saba Bileya and his wife, Julianna, on their farm in Taraba, Northeastern Nigeria, on June 1, according to the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies where Bileya had been enrolled since 2014. Julianna was pregnant with the couple’s ninth child.
Bileya was a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria, CRC-N. He and his wife leave behind eight surviving children, and were buried in Donga on June 5, according to the Hausa Christians Foundation.
A statement released by the state police said that “While they were working on the farm, suddenly armed men came and opened fire on them, leading to the death of the pastor and his wife.”
The Hausa Christians Foundation called the killings part of a “systematic, direct war against Christianity in Nigeria,” and said that “pastors, Christian leaders and seminarians are either being kidnapped or killed every week” in the country.
Taraba governor Darius Ishaku called the killings “wicked and inhuman” in a statement to the local newspaper This Day, on June 3.
“Killings of this nature have happened too often recently in Southern Taraba communities and this is unhelpful to the on-going efforts of the government to achieve lasting peace among communities in the area,” said Ishaku.
“I sympathize with the surviving members of Pastor Bileya’s immediate and extended families as well as pastors and members of CRC-N in Mararaba where he served until his death.”
The attack is the latest in a spate of violence against Christians in Nigeria, largely from the terror group Boko Haram, militant nomadic Fulani herdsmen, and the terror group Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) and occurring in the Middle Belt and northeast regions of the country.
More than 600 Christians have been killed so far in 2020, according to a report on May 15 by the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety). Christians have been beheaded and set on fire, farms set ablaze, and priests and seminarians have been targeted for kidnapping and ransom.
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