Islamic terrorists threaten to kill kidnapped clergymen in Nigeria

The Rev. Paul Musa of the COCIN in Gamboru Ngala, Borno state, Nigeria, in image reportedly released by Boko Haram.
The Rev. Paul Musa of the COCIN in Gamboru Ngala, Borno state, Nigeria, in image reportedly released by Boko Haram. | (Social media)

Islamic extremists in northeastern Nigeria released a video early last week threatening to kill a kidnapped Christian pastor if they did not receive a large ransom payment, according to local reports.

The same terrorists who displayed the flag of jihadist group Boko Haram in a video in May released another video – with published reports showing its date of release ranging from June 21 to June 25 – of the Rev. Paul Musa, pastor of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Gamboru Ngala, Borno state, kneeling in front of terrorist brandishing a gun.

Pastor Musa and his wife were kidnapped in March 2023.

“One week ultimatum has been given by our captors for you who are ready to secure our release, to do that which is necessary to meet their demands,” Pastor Musa says in Hausa on the video. “If within one week nothing is done, me and my wife will be killed. My appeal is that you do whatever you can within the stipulated time to get us out of here or receive the news about our death.”

The 15-second video shows the pastor dressed in an orange shirt and kneeling, his hands behind his back, with the terrorist standing behind him. He says in the video that this is his last appeal to government authorities and church leaders.

Reports of the ransom amount the terrorist group demands have ranged from 39,180 USD to 130,221 USD. The Rev. David Ayuba Azzaman of Kings Worship Centre International in Kaduna told media outlet Truth Nigeria that Pastor Musa’s son informed him from Cameroon that the terrorists gave the pastor’s family and church seven days from the June 24 release of the video to pay the ransom or he would be killed.

The COCIN raised funds and offered them to the terrorists, which they rejected as insufficient, Azzaman told Truth Nigeria.

The chairman of the Borno State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Rev. John Bakeni, told the media outlet that multiple videos showing Pastor Musa have appeared previously, and that CAN has been striving to obtain the release of various Christian captives, including Pastor Musa.

Kidnapped Priest

In northwestern Nigeria’s Zamfara state, a Catholic priest appealed for his life in a video after he was kidnapped on June 22 from church premises at St. Raymond Catholic Church in the Damba area of the city of Gusau.

The Rev. Micah Suleiman, in 51-second video sent to the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto by the unnamed terrorists, pleads for ransom to be paid or else he will be killed.

“Brethren, here’s my plea, please help get me out of captivity. Here, my captors don’t keep those they kidnapped for more than a week,” Suleiman says in the video.“They told me killing is their pastime, and they’ll not hesitate to kill me. That I’m still alive they said is because they’ve decided to give me the chance to talk to my people to pay up the ransom they’re demanding for my release.

“I beg you in the name of God, help get me out of here. Just take a look at me. Look at my legs, I have been tied down, and beaten with my legs chained. Here, I’m alone, as there’re no other captives with me. They killed those they’ve kidnapped. Please in the name of God, help me.”

The Rev. Nuhu Iliya, chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, announced his kidnapping and asked for prayer, as did the Rev. Emmanuel Anyanwu, also a Catholic priest.

“Dear friends and beloved family in Christ, I am Revd. Fr. Emmanuel Anyanwu, and I am asking you in tears for prayers and support for my dear friend and brother priest Rev. Fr. Micah Suleiman, who is in deep suffering under the captivity of Islamic extremists,” Anyanwu said. “His only offense was being a Christian and a catholic priest.”

Zamfara State Police Command spokesman Yazid Abubakar confirmed the kidnapping of the priest.

In the 2024 WWL of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria was ranked No. 6, as it was in the previous year. Nigeria remained the deadliest place in the world to follow Christ, with 4,118 people killed for their faith from Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023, according to Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List (WWL) report. More kidnappings of Christians than in any other country also took place in Nigeria, with 3,300.

Nigeria was also the third highest country in number of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings such as hospitals, schools, and cemeteries, with 750, according to the report.