Muslims in Nigeria Kidnap Christian Children

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Beginning in November of last year, 13-year-old Victor Udo Usen, a member of the Christ Apostolic Church in Sokodo went missing.

On 20 February, news that young Victor was spotted in a Muslim neighbour's house jolted his family. A young Christian girl had raced to the Usens' home in the Mabera area of Sokoto city with the news.

Victor's mother, Esther Udo Usen, told Compass that she ran to the house where her son had been seen. She met him, however, even as he was making frantic efforts to escape from the house where he has been held incommunicado for six months.

"I quickly held his hands and dragged him along with me towards our house," she said. "But within a twinkle of an eye, I heard shouts of 'Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar [God is great]!' I was shocked as I saw a large number of Muslims rushing towards us."

The mob surrounded them and snatched her son away from her, she told Compass with tears in her eyes.

Before she could send for her husband, who was not home at the time, members of the mob told her that her son was now a Muslim and that she and her husband were no longer his parents.

"They abducted him in November last year, and I only saw him today," she told Compass. "How can someone force my son into his religion?"

Victor's father, Udo Usen, told Compass that when he received the distressed call from his wife, he rushed home only to discover that the boy had been abducted anew.

"I thought, 'If I force myself into the house of that Muslim to get my son, I will not only be placing the lives of my family at risk but also creating room for them to attack other Christians in Sokoto,'" Usen said.

Instead, Usen contacted his pastor, and together they reported the matter to other Christian leaders - as well as to police and the state security service.

"The police told us that they cannot do anything at the moment until the Sultan of Sokoto, the leader of Muslims in Nigeria, returns from his trip," he said. "They have held this boy for six months without our consent. They have forced him into Islam. How can they do this to a 13-year-old child?"

The Usens are not the only Christian family in Sokoto who have had one of their children abducted and forced into Islam; Christian leaders there say abduction of teenage Christian boys and girls has become a common phenomenon in majority-Muslim Sokoto state.

Christian leaders are worried that the kidnapping trend is on the increase, creating tensions between Muslims and Christians. The Nigerian government knows of the abductions but has done nothing to protect Christian children from religious predators.


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