Nigerian Pastor and Wife Wrongly Accused and Jailed Released After 3 Years Behind Bars


A Nigerian pastor and his wife who were wrongly accused and kept behind bars without hearing for over 3 years, have scored a significant victory after being acquitted of wrongdoing based on accusations they kidnapped and proselytized a 12-year-old girl.

The Rev. Jonah Gangas and his wife, Josephine, came under fire after taking in a runaway Muslim girl in 2013 and allowing her to live with them for seven years, according to Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADF International).

After graduation from secondary school, that girl reunited with her family. This was the beginning of trouble for the Christian couple who acted kindly and compassionately.

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At the behest of a Muslim organization, Jonah and Josephine Gangas who preach with Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA Church), were accused of kidnapping the girl. They were subsequently arrested in 2020 and imprisoned for three years without bail.

But, according to ADF International, “after many delayed hearings, the High Court of Justice of Kaduna State released their decision, fully acquitting the couple of wrongdoing in a ‘no case’ motion.”

Attorney Sean Nelson of ADF International who disclosed this, said he is “thankful” for the acquittal and that no one should be punished for sharing kindness and compassion.

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“For simply helping this young girl, and taking her in during a moment of need, they were punished, prosecuted, and imprisoned,” Nelson said. “We are pleased that the court has sided with Reverend and Mrs. Gangas, and we hope that this decision will positively impact other Christians and religious minorities in the country who are being unjustly punished for their faith, as well.”

The acquittal of the Rev. Jonah Gangas and his wife, is a rare victory in Nigeria, a place where Christian persecution is rapidly increasing.

Believers Portal recently reported that two Nigerian universities — one federal and one state — have reportedly barred Christian students from “being able to use any facilities for worship [or] fellowship, as disclosed by ADF International.

“The reason you know it’s discrimination is that … the Muslim students are completely allowed to use all of these facilities,” he said. “They’re preventing Christians from using those spaces, from worshipping on campus, having fellowship; they have to go off campus to do that. It’s just plain discrimination.”

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Nelson said such restrictions are a total violation of Nigeria’s constitution, which protects freedom of religion and belief.

Christians in Nigeria are not only facing social pressure; some are facing violence and death, with officials failing to uphold protections.

Nigeria remained one of the deadliest place in the world to follow Christ, with 4,118 people killed for their faith from Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023, according to Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List (WWL) report. More kidnappings of Christians than in any other country also took place in Nigeria, with 3,300.

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Nigeria was also the third highest country in number of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings such as hospitals, schools, and cemeteries, with 750, according to the report.

Nigeria ranks number 6 in the 2024 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

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