Nigeria: Muslim Militants Target Expelled Christian Students

Muslim militants pronounced a death sentence on five Christian students expelled from public schools in November for conducting an evangelistic outreach.

The families of two of the students, Miss Hanatu Haruna Alkali and Abraham Adamu Misal, were attacked on January 26 when militants went to their family homes in the state of Gombe in northern Nigeria intending to kill them.

A sister of Alkali, who asked not to be named, reported to Compass from Gombe that Muslim militants have attacked the house several times. Family members fear for their lives.

Family Held At Gun Point

Rev. Oludare Aliu, national coordinator of the students’ ministry of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), confirmed the report. “Muslim militants went to Gombe to … kill Hannatu, but fortunately, she was not at home at the time. The family was held at gun point. Hannatu’s father happens to be a former military officer. He wrestled with the militants and was able to disarmed one of them who had a gun. While he was fighting them, one of the militants stabbed Hannatu’s mother with a knife. She has been treated for the wounds.” Alkali is now in hiding.

“Also, the militants attacked the family of Abraham Adamu Misal; he has already escaped and is now in hiding. We are yet to get details about the whereabouts of the other three students,” Aliu added.

Alkali, Misal, and three other Christian students (Habakkuk Solomon, Hankuri Gaya, and a student identified as Uzochukwu) were expelled by the authorities of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) and the Federal Polytechnic in Bauchi for sharing the gospel with Muslim students. According to officials in the two schools, Muslims in the schools complained that the Christian students blasphemed the prophet Mohammed (see Compass Direct, “Nigerian Student Murdered in Clash over Evangelism,” December 20, 2004).

Sunday Nache Achi, a student and president of the campus chapter of ECWA students’ ministry at ATBU in Bauchi, was murdered over the incident on December 8, 2004. He was not part of the group of Christian students conducting the gospel outreach.

In January, representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Bauchi called on the Nigerian government to carry out investigations into the murder of Achi and bring to justice those who killed him. They also demanded the reinstatement of the five expelled Christian students and the removal of the head officials of the two public schools for contributing to the conflicts between Muslim and Christian students.

Muslim Leaders Support Militants’ Actions

On January 25, Muslim leaders in Bauchi held a press conference. They called on all Muslims to defend Islam and to resist the demand by Christian leaders that the Muslim militants who killed Mr. Achi be brought to justice.

Alhaji Muhammad Dan Madami, who led the conference, said the Muslim leaders opposed the reinstatement of the Christian students and supported the activities of the Muslim militants. He also said the Nigerian government must not remove the heads of the two schools, both of whom are Muslims.

“The incidents [Christian evangelism outreach to Muslim students] in both ATBU and Federal Polytechnic Bauchi were meant to deliberately provoke the Muslims,” Madami said. Therefore, all Muslims must be prepared to defend their religion “and the person and good name of the prophet of Islam, Mohammed, at all times.”