Nigeria: Pastor's daughter killed after arson attack on church

A pastor's daughter has been killed in an arson attack on a church and manse in Kano state in north-western Nigeria.

The Baptist Church at the village of Gidan Maso was attacked by arsonists whose aim was to murder a young man who converted back to Christianity after embracing Islam.

The pastor, Rev Habila Garba, lost his daughter to suffocation when the two young men set fire to his home as well as to the church.

Retired General Ishaku Ahmed Dikko, president of Tarayyar Masihiyawan Nijeria, an organisation that represents Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri Christians, told journalists on Tuesday in Abuja that the arsonists were targeting the convert Yahaya Joshua.

In a statement, General Dikko said: "The Church and all the properties were burnt down in the presence of the Christian community despite all pleadings for them to stop the destruction. The arsonists gathered cornstalks and put inside the church in order to cause greater damage."

He said the arson was deliberate and premeditated.

"The Christians present exhibited great Christian qualities by not taking the law into their hands by trying to stop them by force," he added.

But far from this helping the arsonists to see reason, this infuriated them further and they went on to set fire to the pastor's home as well. "As a result of the fire, one of the Pastor's daughters died of suffocation and most of the house destroyed."

Two people, Bawa Adamu and Aminu Dauda, were wounded in a machete attack and suffered cuts and broken arms. Others also received similar wounds.

General Diook said: "The cause of the barbaric act was to kill one youth, Yahaya Joshua, who converted to Islam but later on reverted back to Christianity. The youth had escaped on learning of the plan to kill him. They therefore set the church and pastor's house on fire and went about maiming and wounding any Christian they saw. The incidence was immediately reported to the Police and the District Head at Rogo. At the time of filing this report on 3rd April, 2015, no information was received about the action taken or if any arrests were made. However, all the wounded know and can identify their attackers by name since they all belong to the same village."

​He pleaded for action to stop the persecution.

"The Tarayyar Masihiyawan Nigeriya is calling on the authorities to take the necessary steps to stem or stop all these harassments and molestations of innocent Christians for whatever reasons. We have the right to belong to any religion of our choice and live anywhere in this country. We call on the authorities at all levels to rise up to their responsibilities to protect lives and properties of every citizen in this country."

The arson attack comes a week after a branch of the Living Faith Church, Winners Chapel at Giwa in Kaduna State, was also attacked by arsonists.

According to the latest Open Doors watch list, Nigeria is at tenth place among the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Open Doors describes these as the places where followers of Christ must keep their beliefs hidden and where living the gospel means facing beatings, imprisonment, discrimination and abuse.