Violence against Nigerian Christians rises; pastor murdered for preaching about Jesus, repentance

Nigerian pastor, Chukwu Ekere, has been brutally murdered by four gang members for preaching about Jesus and telling them to repent for their sins.

(Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)Worshippers arrive at a church in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

Police officials from Rivers State, Nigeria have arrested the suspects, who were identified as Henry Ajie, Bright Ajie, Dadison Ogadima, and Sampson Dibia. 

"The gang [confessed] to have been responsible for the kidnapping of Pastor Chukwu Ekere ... and killed him for the simple reason that the man of God disturbed them with his preaching of repentance and also for urging them to shun their nefarious activities and accept God," the police said in a statement, as quoted by PM News Nigeria.

In addition to killing the pastor, it was revealed that the gang members were also responsible for the kidnapping, raping, and murdering of a woman named Mrs. Igila last Jan. 7.

"The suspects confessed to the allegations of the victim's kidnapping after which they raped, strangled her, and buried her corpse in shallow grave," the police said.

Open Doors, an organization that helps persecuted Christians worldwide, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, noted that in just a year the killing of Christians in Nigeria has increased by 62 percent. There have been about 4,028 killings and 198 church attacks in northern Nigeria alone.

Just last week, it was reported by Nigeria's Daily Post that the two sons of the presiding pastor, Rev. Nicholas Wayih, were murdered by attackers after a prolonged fight during a home invasion.

"Christians living under Shariah law are facing discrimination and marginalization and have limited to no access to federal rights," an Open Doors representative said.

Open Doors indicated that they hope the rise in persecuted Christians will prompt the Nigerian government, as well as the international community, to take some serious action. They also hope that the Christians in Nigeria will be more involved in fighting for the safety of their brothers and sisters.