Pastor, his family and other Christians killed in northern Nigeria

The Rev. Jacob Abah was slain near Maraba in Taraba state, Nigeria on March 13, 2024.
The Rev. Jacob Abah was slain near Maraba in Taraba state, Nigeria on March 13, 2024. | (Philip Tule for Christian Daily International-Morning Star News)

Terrorists on March 13 ambushed and killed an African Church pastor, his wife and son along with several other Christians on a highway in Taraba state, northeastern Nigeria, sources said.

The Rev. Abah Jacob, wife Marian Abah and their son were slain with the other Christians near Mararaba on the highway between Gankwe and Mararaba in Donga County, a group of pastors said at a press conference in Jalingo on Saturday (March 23).

Pastor Jacob led the African Church of Kyado Archdeaconry at Adi Parish in Bali Local Government Area of Taraba state, the Rev. Nathaniel Saawua said at the press conference.He said dozens of other Christians were wounded in the attack and were treated at various hospitals.

“But since the gruesome murder, it appears to us that nobody is bothered, because not one family member of the victims has been contacted by the authorities, and no official visitation to the families by any government official from Bali or Donga local government councils,” Pastor Saawua said.

Among those who were wounded but escaped, some have no finances to sustain their hospital stays, he said.

“One person has so far died in the hospital, and some of them have little or nothing to foot the bills of the treatments they are receiving,” Pastor Saawua said. “While we draw the attention of the authorities concerned to this pathetic and unfortunate situation, we want to call on spirited individuals who are touched by this incident to come to the aid of these victims and the bereaved by providing succor to them to alleviate some of their physical and emotional pains.”

The pastors called for investigation into the killing of these Christians.

Church member Apeife Malachi Aondofa said Pastor Jacob and his wife and child “were killed in cold blood while they were on pastoral visit to the church’s mission field at Adi parish in the Gazabu area of Bali Local Government Area. The pastor and other Christians traveling alongside them where killed at Mararaba town.”

Other church members who sent text messages to Christian Daily International-Morning Star News prior to the press conference also described the assailants as “terrorists” or “Fulani terrorists.”

Taraba Gov. Agbu Kefas directed police and other security agencies to investigate.

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.

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.

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a 2020 report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.