Originally published in The Christian Post.
A Nigerian Christian girl, who was abducted in January and forced to convert to Islam, has finally been reunited with her family in the country’s northcentral Kaduna state.
The Hausa Christians Foundation (HCF) told the independent daily newspaper, Vanguard, that Sadiya Amos has escaped from her captors and returned to her family in the Kubau Council Area after being held hostage for more than a month.
Last month, the Anglican Church and Hausa Christian community in Kubau raised concern over Amos’ abduction and alleged forced marriage to one of her captors.
According to an earlier report from The Guardian, Amos went missing on the night of January 5.
Amos’ father, Amos Chindo, was forced to go to Sharia court on January 7, where he was threatened by a lawyer claiming to be an advocate for Sadiya and a Sharia court judge. Both accused Chindo of preventing his daughter from converting to Islam.
The judge and lawyer were accused of forging a birth certificate in which Sadiya’s age was raised from under 17 to 19. Additionally, the lawyer and judge refused to give Chindo access to his daughter or tell him her whereabouts.
The trial was adjourned until January 14.
According to a statement from the HCF, Amos and her parents attend the church where the Anglican Bishop of Ikara Diocese, Yusuf Ishaya Janfalan, presides.
According to Vanguard, Janfalan delegated priests to attend Amos’ court hearing on January 14 and call for the Sharia court to acknowledge that both parents are Christians and not subject to Sharia law.
“[T]he judge didn’t listen to them or even give them the chance to speak and never even listen [sic] to Sadiya’s parents,” the HCF statement reads. “Instead, the Sharia judge went ahead to read his predetermined judgment and closed the case without the Sadiyas in court”.
HCF said that the organisation did its best to try to secure Amos’ release after the court’s decision but had no luck. At a protest in January, Janfalan and leaders from the Hausa Christians Foundation called on the government for an immediate intervention to secure Amos’ release.
“While doing our best to rescue her, we reached a point where we could not do anything due to financial constraint,” the HCF statement explains. “While praying to God for open doors to speed up her freedom, the power of our God went ahead and completed the work all to His glory”.
Sadiya Amos told HCF that she was kept in a room for more than a month and forced to convert to Islam. She said that guards were posted outside her door so that she would not escape.
But one day, the guards fell asleep and left the door open. Amos said that allowed her to escape and return to her parents.
“The case of abducting Christian girls and their forceful conversion to Islam as well as forcing them into marriage has become a watershed issue in Northern Nigeria,” the HCF statement reads. “The Hausa Christians Foundation in less than three years has rescued 12 of these girls out of the over 30 cases that were reported to us from across Northern Nigeria, especially the Hausa Land.”
It is unclear as to who Amos’ captors are. However, the kidnappings of hundreds of young girls in Nigeria have been carried out by different actors in recent years. Those actors include the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, its splinter group, the Islamic State West Africa Province, and radical Fulani herdsmen.
Last October, six Christian schoolgirls and two staff members were abducted from a Christian-run high school in Kaduna city by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
In 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped over 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in Borno state. Over 112 remain missing.
In 2018, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped from a government school in Dapchi. Although nearly all were released, Christian teen Leah Sharibu was not because she reportedly refused to deny her faith in Christ. After two years, family members and advocates are still calling for her freedom.
“The moment these girls are abducted, they are subjected to all manners of evil just to take control of their minds,” HCF warns. “Once their captors have taken hold of their minds, these girls will do everything they are asked to do.
While the parents fight for the release of their daughters, these abductors continue to sexually abuse these girls, control their food, drinks, clothes, where they sleep and perpetually invoke evil spirits upon them to the point that these girls completely lose their minds and never think of going back to their home”.
HCF warned that it only takes about one or two weeks for a Christian girl to be abducted and married off.
“She will be sexually abused even before the marriage to make the parents give up on her when she becomes pregnant,” HCF stresses.
Open Doors 2020 World Watch List ranks Nigeria as the 12th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution.