4 February 2014
When Pastor Dike Ocha found the body of a young girl near his home in Kankia, Katsina state, Nigeria, he immediately contacted the police. The six-year-old had been missing for four days, causing fear among the townspeople. Unfortunately, by reporting to the police, Ocha unwittingly made himself a target for angry villagers.
False rumours quickly spread through the village, accusing Ocha of the girl’s death. A mob of over two thousand youths gathered at his home, demanding his death and that of all other Christians in the village. The mob managed to grab Ocha, pulled him into the street, and mercilessly beat him. Even as he was taken to the hospital, the mob pursued him, eventually dragging him back into the street and setting him on fire, resulting in his death. The attackers also burned the pastor’s home and a local church, and other Christians’ homes were looted and destroyed, leading their families to flee the village out of fear. Ocha’s wife also fled with their two children, having lost everything and fearing for their lives.
Later investigations by the local police commissioner revealed that Ocha had nothing to do with the girl’s death. Despite being located in northern Nigeria, where Christians often face persecution from radical Muslims aiming to establish a separate country governed by Islamic law, Katsina state had remained relatively peaceful. However, Christians in the area are aware that persecution can erupt at any time, either from Islamists or even their neighbours, leaving them without homes or families. Nevertheless, many Christians in northern Nigeria continue to boldly share their faith among their neighbours.