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Death of Sunday Achi

  1. NIGERIAN STUDENT M URDERED IN
    CLASH OVER EVANGELISM

    BAUCHI, Nigeria, December 20, 2004
    — Opposition to Christian
    evangelism on the campuses of two
    Nigerian institutions of higher learning has
    resulted in the murder of Sunday Nache
    Achi, a fourth-year architectural student
    at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in
    the northern city of Bauchi.
    University representatives had earlier
    expelled three other Christian students for
    distributing a leaflet that compared the
    teachings of Jesus with Islamic beliefs.
    Muslims students at the nearby Bauchi
    Federal Polytechnic threatened two
    Christians with death before the pair was
    expelled from the school for similar
    evangelistic activities.
    Following the murder of Achi and the
    destruction by arson of the offices of the
    Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students
    (NIFES), authorities in Bauchi ordered
    Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University and
    Federal Polytechnic closed.
    Achi served as president of the campus
    ministry of the Evangelical Church of West
    Africa (ECWA). Idakwo Ako Paul, who
    shared a room with Achi in a student
    hostel on campus, told Compass that the
    young man was attending a Bible study
    the evening of December 8 when a band of
    Muslim students came looking for him.
    “Three Muslim students dressed in Islamic
    jihad style burst into the room at about 8
    p.m.,” Paul said. “I was scared because in
    the past two months, there has been
    palpable tension on the campus between
    Muslim and Christian students.
    “They wanted to know where my
    roommate was. I told them I didn’t know
    and they left. Sunday returned to the room
    about 11 p.m. and I told him what had
    transpired.”
    Paul said he retired for the night while
    Achi worked on architectural drawings for
    a class presentation the following morning.
    However, not long after falling asleep, Paul
    was awakened by his roommate’s shouts.
    “‘Wake up Paul, wake up!’ Sunday was
    shouting. I jumped out of bed to be
    confronted again by these Muslim
    students. This time they were more in
    number and were wearing masks.
    “They dragged Sunday Achi out of the
    room. I tried running after them, but one
    of them pointed a pistol at me and ordered
    me back into the room. They locked me in
    there. I kept shouting for help but the
    Muslim students in the hostel deliberately
    kept to their rooms.”
    The following morning, a Christian student
    came to the hostel, discovered Paul locked
    in the room and broke the door to let him
    out. The two of them were about to alert
    other Christian students to the danger
    when they received news that Sunday
    Achi’s body had been discovered beside a
    mosque near the home of the university’s
    vice chancellor.
    Achi apparently died of strangulation. His
    neck was broken and his body badly
    bruised, according to witnesses who
    prepared his body for burial.
    Bauchi state Governor Alhaji Adamu
    Mu’azu told religious leaders that he has
    ordered an investigation into the incident
    and that the perpetrators, if found, will
    face the full force of the law. However at
    press time, authorities had not arrested
    any suspects in the killing.
    According to Christian students in Bauchi,
    the controversy that led to Achi’s murder
    began two months ago, when a small
    group of Christians visited student hostels
    on the university campus to discuss the
    gospel with fellow students.
    Fourth-year engineering student Abraham
    Adamu Misal told Compass, “On the 9th of
    October, Miss Hannatu Haruna Alkali,
    Habakkuk Solomon and I visited a room
    with five Muslim students in it. We shared
    the gospel. Having listened to us, they also
    decided to tell us about Islam.
    “But their presentation distorted
    Christianity. I decided to give them a tract
    that made a comparative analysis of Islam
    vis-à-vis Christianity and the teachings of
    Jesus Christ.”
    According to Alkali, in the weeks following
    this conversation, Muslim extremists made
    several attempts to kill the evangelistic
    trio. A month after their visit to the hostel,
    university authorities summoned the three
    Christians to a meeting and told them they
    had blasphemed the Prophet Mohammed.
    A student disciplinary committee prepared
    a report on the incident for the university
    senate, which subsequently recommended
    that Misal, Alkali and Solomon be expelled
    from the university.
    For her part, Alkali has accepted the
    expulsion order as the price of practicing
    her Christian faith.
    “Evangelism is something we must all be
    prepared to sacrifice for,” she told
    Compass. “I see in the Bible examples of
    many who have had to lay down their
    lives for the sake of the gospel. Why not
    me?”
    Hankuri Gaya and a second student
    identified as Uzochukwu were later
    expelled from Bauchi Federal Polytechnic
    for distributing the same Christian tract
    that caused trouble for Misal, Alkali and
    Solomon. Sources told Compass that
    Muslim extremists used the leaflet to whip
    up anti-Christian fervor among Muslim
    students.
    Tensions erupted on December 8 when
    rampaging Muslims set fire to the NIFES
    offices, then abducted and murdered
    Sunday Achi.
    Achi was buried on Saturday, December
    11, in his hometown of Kibori in the
    central state of Kaduna. Funeral services
    were held at the Kibori ECWA church.
    The dead student’s father, Dr. Samuel
    Achi, faulted the Nigerian government for
    mishandling Muslim-Christian conflict in
    the country and called for urgent steps to
    be taken to avert further bloodshed.
    “Peace cannot just be preached, it has to
    be practiced,” Dr. Achi told mourners. “A
    religion that claims to be a religion of
    peace, as the Muslims claim their religion
    is, must be peaceful in practice.
    “Government in its wisdom should find a
    solution to the problem of religious
    conflicts in the country, if Nigeria is to
    remain a single sovereign state.”

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