JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A medical doctor and pastor who headed a wholistic Christian ministry in northeast Nigeria was shot to death on Oct. 14, sources said. Dr. Habila Solomon, president of Charity and Hope Ministry based in Jauro Yinu village, Taraba state, was killed at his home in the village by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, according to Nwamandze Gaius, a pastor also based in northeast Nigeria.
“This is the second attack on him, as he was first attacked by herdsmen in his house on Oct. 1, but God shielded him,” Gaius said in a text message to Morning Star News. “However, on Oct. 14, the herdsmen returned and shot him in his chest, killing him instantly.” Solomon was a great encouragement to many people who gave their lives to Christ, Gaius said. “He was the reason why many people saw hope,” he said. “Dr. Solomon was a great missionary, as he positively impacted thousands of lives for Christ. In the course of doing missions, God used him to provide drinking water, shelter, free education and feed the poor.”
Other colleagues also identified Fulani herdsmen as the killers. “He was murdered by Fulani herdsmen,” said a colleague of the slain ministry leader whose name is withheld for security reasons. “Dr. Solomon was very active in reaching Muslim Fulani herdsmen, alongside other ethnic groups, with the gospel.
Solomon visited herdsmen settlements in the wilderness and in camps to preach the gospel to them, he said. “He also provided the herdsmen and their families with free medical care,” the source said. “I believe that because some of them have professed Christ, some of the fanatical herdsmen must have seen Dr. Solomon as a threat to Islam, hence their decision to kill him.”
Charity and Hope Ministry serves in rural areas proclaiming Christ and providing free medical care and sinking bore-holes for clean drinking water at no cost to villagers, he said. “We will miss his impact on the lives of rural dwellers and the body of Christ,” he said. Another colleague whose name is withheld said the ministry of the slain pastor extended into Yobe and other states of northeast Nigeria, where Boko Haram terrorists and heavily armed Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Christians.
“He made significant impact in the kingdom of God, especially in the mission fields where he led so many souls to Christ, helped the poor and needy as well as contributed immensely in planting churches among the unreached,” the source said in a text message to Morning Star News.
Christy Usman, a friend of the slain Christian leader, said he worked among the Mumuye people of Taraba state. “I’ve known Dr. Habila Solomon personally as a missionary that took the gospel of Jesus Christ very seriously,” Usman said. “He built a church and was changing lives and saving souls together with his wife. His death is indeed a very painful experience.”
A relative requested prayer for his family. “Please stand with our house in prayer to go through this shocking premature death at the hands of gunmen in Nigeria,” the relative said. “Shocking”
A colleague, Emmanuel Haruna, described Solomon as a true soldier of faith, while another expressed incredulity at the callousness of the killers.
“I can’t believe that men could be this cruel to have killed someone working to save lives through preaching the gospel and improving their living conditions,” the colleague said.
Another colleague, Habakkuk Zubairu, said Solomon fought the good fight and ran the race of faith and won. “He answered God’s call and finished the assignment successfully,” Zubairu said. Charity and Hope Ministry was established in 1999 to plant churches and provide humanitarian services such as providing clean drinking water, education and clothing, according to its mission statement on Facebook.
Among other areas, it has helped people in Gbalang, Garin Hamidu, Gadan Wabje, Yorro Mountain, Jauro Koto, Jauro Gana, Mumuye, Karim Mounde, Lau, and Zuwaa Boron Kaza.
Leading Country in Christians Killed
Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report. In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.
In this year’s World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 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 recent report.
“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] 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.
The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked. “In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”
The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.
In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”
On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.
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