- 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
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
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
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
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
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
Tensions erupted on December 8 when
rampaging Muslims set fire to the NIFES
offices, then abducted and murdered
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.”