How I slipped out of Nigeria amidst threats to my life

by Steven Kefas


Steven Kefas, a journalist and human rights activist from Kaduna State, has been persecuted and imprisoned over his fearless reporting on the Fulani militia attacks in his home state.


He previously wrote for Nigeria Report about the Kaduna State government's war on journalists and whistleblowers.

Some of the threatening messages Steven Kefas received in the weeks before his decision to leave Nigeria.


When I stepped foot outside the Kaduna maximum security prison on 29 October 2019, I thought I was really free. But I was wrong; what was to come would be more terrible than the prison walls and the jailer's chains. I had been in prison for 162 days under very dehumanising conditions for my advocacy against the senseless killings of Christians in my native Southern Kaduna, and northern Nigeria as a whole.


In April 2020, barely six months after my release from jail by the government, I went on the run again because so-called security agents were coming after me for simply tweeting a news link published by Zenger news, a United States-based digital newspaper. Zenger news had reported that a mobile phone recovered from the scene of a terrorist attack on the Christian community of Chawai in Kauru local government area of Kaduna State contained phone numbers of some  serving military personnel.


The report further alleged links between the terrorists and the Nigerian military. I didn't write the report, I only tweeted the story. Shortly after my tweet went viral with over 4,000 retweets, I started getting strange phone calls from people threatening me. I had to leave my home and travel to another town for my safety.


Attacked in my sleep


After some months the threats subsided, or so I thought. I continued my advocacy until I had another shock in July 2021 - a letter purportedly written by Fulani terrorists and addressed to a friend of mine, Pastor Gideon Mutum, a Kafanchan-based clergyman and human rights activist. The terrorists had told Pastor Mutum to inform me that they would hunt me down. Pastor Mutum had to flee Kafanchan and I also relocated to another town.


In April 2022, I was attacked in my sleep by unknown persons who sprayed poisonous chemicals - believed by doctors to be chlorine gas - into my bedroom through the open window. I spent weeks in hospital due to the effect of the gas I inhaled. I am still suffering respiratory problems as a result.


After the gas incident, I relocated from my house to a different town in June. Shortly after my relocation, former neighbours began to inform me about unknown individuals who had come to ask after me. A few days before I left Nigeria, my former pastor sent me a WhatsApp message informing me that some people who claimed to be Department of State Security officials had come to look for me.


How I left Nigeria


When my good friend the Very Rev. Fr. John Mark Cheitnum was abducted and gruesomely murdered by terrorists, I knew that it was just a matter of time before I would also be abducted or killed. Fr. Cheitnum, a vocal advocate for human rights, justice and equity was abducted on 15 July 2022 and murdered almost immediately. His decomposing body was recovered a few days later.


A day before he was buried, I was warned by a friend who works with one of the intelligence agencies not to attend the burial. He warned me that plans to abduct me were at an advanced stage, and that I should leave northern Nigeria, and possibly the country, if I could.


Less than two weeks later, on 27 July, I embarked on a tumultuous journey through one of Nigeria's northern borders by road. I left the country with nothing other than the clothes I was wearing, my passport and, most importantly, faith. It was a journey I never planned for but that was necessary if I was to stay alive. I had no idea where I was going.


Today, I am in exile, a refugee in another man's country, simply because I chose to speak for the voiceless men, women and children that are daily being massacred because of their faith or ethnicity in Nigeria.


Write a comment

Comments: 17
  • #1

    Joseph Simon Tongah (Thursday, 18 August 2022 10:15)

    God's angels will keep you Psalms 91.God in heaven created you for a purpose when it is fulfilled He will receive you home.

  • #2

    Kyana stephen (Thursday, 18 August 2022 10:21)

    Oh my goodness what a tragedy please dad be safe and the good lord we serve will preserve you.. Be good for us

  • #3

    Dejang Thomas (Thursday, 18 August 2022 11:28)

    Weldon Steven Kefas for speaking up for many of us.
    The Lord keep and preserve you in the name of Yeshua.

  • #4

    Isuwa freda winifred (Thursday, 18 August 2022 12:45)

    This too shall pass,my prayers are with u always�

  • #5

    Tabitha Jasini (Thursday, 18 August 2022 13:16)

    The lord will preserve u .

  • #6

    Feylom (Thursday, 18 August 2022 13:42)

    May God strengthen you and all off us from enemies of Christendom

  • #7

    JOHN Thomas Boka (Thursday, 18 August 2022 14:34)

    You took the right steps and God will be with you and direct your steps.
    Now you have more space to report...

    We will continue to talk � about bad policies and killings of Nigerians and God will see us through.

    More love from this end bro.
    One love.

    1 Corin 5:16-18. Rejoice and Give thanks always

  • #8

    Esther Auta (Thursday, 18 August 2022 15:01)

    The Good Lord Will Preserve You Sir, We Won't Stop Praying For You.

  • #9

    Faith Thomas Tanko (Thursday, 18 August 2022 15:45)

    Our Father will definitely keep watch over you Bro.
    You shall never be abandoned.

  • #10

    Laraba Samuel KANTIOK (Thursday, 18 August 2022)

    Dear son The Almighty God Your creator will still and continue to stand on his genuine unbounded wonderful deep and strong love that he has for you He will keep on protecting you and your FREEDOM and VICTORY shall surely come TOMORROW My prayers are with you YOU WILL RETURN WITH CHARIOTS It is well with you YARO LOVE YOU

  • #11

    Laraba Samuel KANTIOK (Friday, 19 August 2022 04:57)

    God will continue to keep you under his armful wings Beloved son even as you sojourn on the surface of the earth where some people come back in pains and failures you will return in faith and victorious in the mighty name of Jesus REMAIN STRONG and in good health

  • #12

    Dominic Neyu Livinus (Friday, 19 August 2022 09:30)

    Wherever you are, God will protect you and give you refuge until your and the enemies of Nigeria kiss dust and defeated in Christ Jesus. It's just a matter of time
    It's well with you my brother, you will surely return in victory in Jesus name amen �

  • #13

    Patience Adams (Friday, 19 August 2022 13:45)

    Great, the Lord be with you wherever you are.
    Take very good care of yourself.

  • #14

    Ruth Chris (Saturday, 20 August 2022 13:07)

    I decree psalms 91 upon your life,God keep u safe and stay strong..

  • #15

    Ashukuh Monday Adukwa (Saturday, 20 August 2022 17:16)

    Lord please protect Steven Kefas from trouble wherever he go, and keep evil far from him. No matter where he is, he will look to You as his Protector, the one who fights for him every day.

    Your love and faithfulness, along with Your goodness and mercy, shall surround him daily, so he will not fear whatever might come against him. His trust is in You, God, and he will give thanks to You for Your love and protection.

    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • #16

    Scholar meegladz (Sunday, 21 August 2022 22:13)

    God shield you �

  • #17

    Luka Binniyat (Monday, 22 August 2022 14:30)

    Steven, God's plan for you is greatness.
    You shall return victorious.
    God keep you strong and safe, hero