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Algerian Christians rally for “freedom of worship without intimidation”

Photo: Evangelical Focus report

(Evangelical Focus) by Joel Forster—Peaceful demonstrations call authorities to “stop closure of worship places”. Churches re-organise themselves in houses as the government threatens to close more buildings.

Algerian Protestant Christians have protested peacefully in the last days against the “unjust” governmental campaign to close churches. Groups of believers have called on the streets for “freedom of worship without intimidation”. “Mr Governor, stop the closure of churches”, said one of the signs written in Arabic and French.

“No to the unjust closure of churches” was written on another banner. Demonstrators also called to “derogate the 06/03 law of 2006”, a controversial order used to hinder the activities of faith minorities.  

BUILDINGS CLOSED, MATERIALS BLOCKED

“The closures of churches happen arbitrarily, with no chance of taking the materials out of the worship places. Chairs, microphones, materials, Bibles, everything is blocked”, told Evangelical Focus an Algerian source who knows the churches on the ground well.

Several local churches have moved their belongings to other worship places when the intervention of police officers seemed imminent.

Nine Protestant worship places have already been closed in 12 months, the last case being a “witness point” of a larger church in Tizi-Ouzou.

AN ANTI-PROTESTANT CAMPAIGN

The government action against Protestant groups has focused much on the Kabylie region. Some believers in the region see it as a “provocation” of the government with the underlying aim of prompting some kind of reaction that could then be punished “with a firm hand”, the source said.

Nevertheless, Algerian church leaders have called to maintain a peaceful attitude, not expressing anti-governmental opinions on social media, and defending religious freedom as they continue to engage in the prayer and fasting initiatives started in March.

The hostility of the government has led to a “stronger unity than ever before among the churches”. The significant growth of the Christian Protestant communities in the last twenty years may have led to some discrepancies in secondary theological issues, but these have now been set aside “to face all these injustices together”, the Algerian source told Evangelical Focus.

Christian communities whose places of worship have been shut have found the collaboration of other groups who are offering their facilities. “New groups in houses” have also been started lately.

The national government of Algeria is in the midst of a confusing transition time after the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Abdelkader Bensalah is the new interim leader called to organise new elections.

MORE CHURCHES AT RISK

In the last days, it has been known that two more churches in the Kabylie region could be forcibly closed. So far, authorities have justified their actions arguing that most Protestant places of worship do not have the license required under a law of 2006, known as the 06/03 order.

The Algerian Protestant Church (EPA, in French), an entity formed four decades ago which now unites more than forty Protestant churches in the country, has denounced Christian communities have applied for these licenses for many years, but authorities have intentionally ignored their requests in order to put them in a position of illegality. Algerian Human Rights experts are seeking to derogate the law.

WEA DEMANDS END OF CLOSURES

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of the international organisations that has positioned itself in favour of the Algerian Protestant Church.

The WEA addressed the situation at the recent September sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. It denounced that “the churches are in a legal grey-zone of non-recognition, giving authorities the latitude to close one building after the other”. The body representing 600 million evangelical Christians worldwide called to “end the campaign against Protestant churches, and review the registration process”.

Six Girls, Two Staff Members Kidnapped from Christian-Run High School in Nigeria

Engravers’ College sign in Kakau Daji village, Chikun County, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – A day before the Kaduna governor said kidnappers terrorizing the state are working with Boko Haram, Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Thursday (Oct. 3) kidnapped six teenage girls and two staff members from a Christian-run high school in north-central Nigeria, sources said.

Suspected to be herdsmen who have carried out numerous kidnappings and attacks in southern Kaduna state, the armed Fulani at 12:20 a.m. invaded Engravers’ College in Kakau Daji village, in Chikun County Local Government Area near Kaduna city, as students and staff members fled into the bushes, the sources said. The eight victims were taken away at gunpoint.

Kaduna Gov. Nasir el-Rufai told media on Friday (Oct. 4) that “bandits,” the term used by officials and Nigerian media wary of connecting the kidnappings to their fellow tribal Fulani, are working alongside elements of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

“We have been receiving intelligence some three months ago that the bandits have connected with some elements of Boko Haram, and they will be targeting schools to kidnap children because they know that that is what makes the news,” El-Rufai said.

Shunom Giwa, vice principal of Engravers’ College, said that five armed herdsmen appeared at the door of his house and spoke with each other in the Fulani language.

“They asked me to lie down, and I did as instructed,” Giwa told Morning Star News by phone. “They then attempted to enter my bedroom and, fully aware that my wife and children were inside, I stood up to distract them, but they asked me to lie down again, which I did.”

A few minutes later, he said, another set of the armed Fulani herdsmen appeared at his house with Joel Adamu, the school’s vice principal academics, and they ordered his colleague to lie on the floor beside him.

“When I discovered that their attention was on my colleague, I just ran into the bush, and on realizing I was escaping, they shot at me, but fortunately they didn’t get me,” Giwa told Morning Star News. “They searched for me without success, and when they couldn’t get me, they started looking for where the students were.”

As the assailants went to the school hostel and forced the door open, Giwa tried to distract them by shouting, “Police, JTF [Joint Task Force] security come, there are kidnappers here!” he said. “On hearing me shouting, they began to shoot at to my direction again. I then ran and jumped over the fence and ran out of the school.”

He remained hiding behind the fence until the sound of barking dogs signaled to him that the assailants must be leaving, he said. He headed toward a school official’s house where female students had gathered after hearing gunshots.

“When we recovered from the shock of what was happening, we started doing a head count to know which students were missing,” Giwa said. “We found that Joel Adamu, the vice principal of academics, the house mistress and six female students were abducted.”

The school, which is open to both Christian and non-Christian students, has a secular curriculum in accordance with Nigeria’s Ministry of Education but includes a Christian perspective, and students take Christian Religious Knowledge as a subject, an official told Morning Star News.

The school has a student population of 100, with rampant insecurity in the state compelling some parents to withdraw their children from the school, Giwa said.

The kidnappers have contacted school officials with their demands for ransom, he said. Initially they demanded 30 million naira (US$82,327) per student before negotiating lower, according to local reports.

“We are trusting God for the protection of the captives and hoping they would be released without being hurt,” Giwa said.

The 15-year-old daughter of Julde Juli was among the abducted students.

“I was shocked on receiving the news of the kidnapping of my daughter and other students,” he told Morning Star News. “I just pray that nothing happens to them, and that they come out alive. I trust that our God is sovereign over all things. We are trusting that through divine intervention our children would be rescued.”

The high school has suspended classes, school Director Samuel Amamchukwu told Morning Star News in a text message.

“We can’t continue with academic activities while the six students and two staff are in captivity,” he said.

Remaining students have returned to their parents, he said.

The village lies in the kidnapping belt of the state and is on the route to Kwanti village, where Morning Star News last year reported the displacement of many Christians due to kidnappings by armed Fulani Herdsmen, according to area residents.

Kaduna State Police Command spokesman Yakubu Sabo said authorities are making efforts to rescue the captives.

“The Command immediately mobilized combined teams of anti-kidnapping, SARS, and conventional police to the area for possible rescue of the victims and arresting the perpetrators of the unfortunate incident,” he said.

Kaduna state Commissioner for Information, Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan said in a statement on Friday (Oct. 4) that Gov. El-Rufai has dispatched a government delegation to sympathize with the school community and assure them that security agencies are working to rescue those abducted.

Persecution Ministries schedule 12-Hour Prayer Conference Call for IDOP 2019

Voice of the Persecuted, in partnership with Persecution Watch, will host an open 12 hour prayer conference call to mobilize Christians to unite in prayer for those suffering for their faith in Christ during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP2019 Persecuted but not abandoned). The call begins at 9 a.m. Eastern and will continue throughout the day until 9 p.m on Sunday, Nov. 3rd. The call is open to all with a desire to pray for those facing extreme hardships for their faith in Christ. Callers are not required to remain on the call for the full twelve offers, but encouraged to sacrifice some time to join the call and band together in prayer.

Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of WEA RLC states,

“Millions of Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith daily. From Pakistan to Kazakhstan, Nigeria to North Korea, Christians routinely face discrimination, harassment, violence and even death for their faith in Jesus. Their suffering is unimaginable. 

The Bible in Hebrews 13:3 command Christians to pray for those suffering as if they themselves were suffering. In other words, the Bible calls us to not only remember those who suffer but also to identify with them in their suffering. In keeping with this scriptural command, the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) has united millions of Christians in prayer for the suffering Body of Christ around the world. After all, as the Bible says: If one suffers, we all suffer.

Over the years, the IDOP has served as a platform to highlight the stories of persecuted Christians and mobilise the global Church to respond to their plight. Moreover, in so doing, the IDOP has also been a source of solidarity and encouragement to persecuted Christians by reminding them that they are part of a larger, global family of believers.

We believe that God uses the prayers of his people to strengthen and deliver suffering saints. However, in order to pray for these suffering brothers and sisters, we must first listen to their stories. In other words, we must hear their cry.

We invite you, therefore, to join us this year on 3rd and 10th November as we unite globally to pray for the persecuted. Let’s pray that in spite of the pressure and persecution, our suffering brothers and sisters –where ever they may be in the world — would stand firm in their faith, hold fast to the promises of God, and live victoriously in Christ.”

Blaine Scogin, Founder of Persecution Watch and Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted shared,

“Brothers and Sisters, in this final hour of redemptive history, we see the forces of Satan marshaling against the followers of Jesus. Persecution continues to increase in a frequency which has not been seen previously in history. Satan has declared an all out war on the followers of Jesus and if possible seeks to destroy them.

But God has given to us powerful weapons that are not of this world. We recognize those weapons as the word of God and prayer. Imagine the power of using His word as we pray. Through the Holy Spirit, we can pray powerful prayers to uphold our persecuted family.

God has placed us in the freedom of America. We are able to cry out for those who cannot cry out for themselves. The persecuted in the shadow of the cross pray of course, but they also have a heartfelt plea, Please pray that we will ‘endure’ the persecutions and that God will deliver us ‘through’ the persecutions.”

Sunday, November 3rd, is designated the first of two days IDOP2019 will be observed this month. Believers around the world will be lifting up our persecuted family and we want to join with them lifting our prayers also on behalf of those suffering.”

Ephesians 6:18 New Living Translation

▪︎ Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (NLT)

Colossians 4:18 New Living Translation (NLT) (KJV)

• HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL.
Remember my chains. (NLT) {KJV)
May God’s grace be with you.

Please share this invitation with your church, prayer warriors and through your social media contacts.

The Lord hears the cries of the righteous who are afflicted. He intercedes for them. Will we hear the cries of our persecuted family? It’s time for us to intercede in prayer for them.
From the team at Voice of the Persecuted, MARK YOUR CALENDARS, join us! (Call details below)

Location: Any location from your phone

DATE:
Sunday, November 3 2019
Time:
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. MDT
6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PDT
Call Number:  
712-775-7035
Access Code:
281207#

International numbers and Mobile App links available (We encourage the use of the free mobile app)

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International IDOP Prayer Conference Call Connection

(Note: You may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Dial a number from any of the countries listed at this link to connect to the conference call. In-app language support is available for select countries.

The weekly Persecution Watch Prayer Call meets at 9 pm EST every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For more info contact: pwprayercall@gmail.com  

 

1 The UN Declaration on Human Rights states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Christian Family in Hiding after Hindu Extremist Mob Assaults Them in India

Hindu extremists severely attack retired pastor and his family in northern India. Photo: Morning Star News

(Morning Star News) – A retired pastor, his wife and their sons are in hiding from police after a Hindu extremist mob injured them in a gruesome assault in northern India, sources said.

Patram Mangala, retired Church of North India pastor now helping to run St. John School in Sohna, Gurugram District in Haryana state, sustained injuries to his nose when he was hit with a spade in the face, and his 28-year-old son Abhishek Mangala lost four front teeth and ruptured blood vessels in his eye in the Sept. 22 attack.

Pastor Mangala’s 65-year-old wife Sarla Mangala sustained an injury under her right eye apart from internal injuries to her body, and their son Raj Kumar Mangala, 40, sustained internal injuries in the attack, which appeared to be rooted in a recent court judgment against the Hindus in their attempt to erect a Hindu idol on the property, the retired pastor said.

The 68-year-old Pastor Mangala and his wife were cleaning their front yard in the early evening when a group of Hindu extremists with wooden sticks surrounded them and began to assault them, he said. Between 30 to 40 other people then joined in the assault.

Pastor Mangala’s sons ran to help their parents but were also attacked. The pastor said he could identify only some of the assailants, and that those who joined in had been notified earlier for a well-planned attack.

Abhishek Mangala lost teeth in assault by Hindu extremists in Sohna, Haryana state, India on Sept. 22, 2019. (Morning Star News)

“Two men, Anil Kumar and Danny, smashed a stone on Abhishek’s face, breaking four of his front teeth,” Pastor Mangala told Morning Star News. “His mouth was profusely bleeding, and his face was covered with blood. Abhishek’s lip tore, and his left eye blood vessels ruptured.”

Their home is part of the St. John’s school premises, and the assailants picked up a spade used for repair work on the institution in the attack, he said. They also struck them with rocks lying outside the gate, along with sticks.

“They began to hit me with their legs and fists and manhandled my wife by pushing her and hitting her,” he said. “They abused us using vulgar language and threatened to kill us. The attackers snatched the gold ring that I was wearing in my finger and snatched my son Abhishek’s cell phone as well.”

Besides the injury to his nose from the spade, Pastor Mangala sustained injuries to his thigh and other parts of his body, he said.

The family reported the assault to city police in writing on Sept. 24, but officers registered no complaint for nearly a week – in stark contrast to a false complaint registered against the Christians the day of the attack, he said.

“The culprits have been threatening us to kill us, and they have warned us that if we go to the police, they will kill us,” Pastor Mangala reported in his complaint, translated from Hindi. “In the future if I or my family members are attacked, these people named in the complaint should be held responsible. I request that strict action be taken against these hooligans and a First Information Report be registered and they be arrested. I pray that justice be given to me and my family.”

Local news media broadcast the Hindu extremists’ false charges as stated by a police official and the main accused in the pastor’s complaint, Anil Kumar. Officer-in-Charge Arvind Dahiya told Punjab Kesari News Channel that an FIR had been registered against Pastor Mangala, his wife and their two sons for “breaking the Hindu temple and illegally trying to take possession of the Hindu temple land under the Indian Penal Code.”

They were also charged with rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon, unlawful assembly, disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant, injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation, he said.

Kumar told media that the Christian family attacked him and the others.

Denying all allegations, Meenal Mangala, the daughter of Pastor Mangala, told Morning Star News that she felt helpless as she does not know who to contact for help.

“The allegations against us are false and fabricated,” she said. “We don’t know what to do. It is our property, and we have the papers to prove it. They forcefully wanted to worship their god on our land. Through court we stopped that and won the legal battle, but now they are spreading a false and fabricated story through media, and it is being telecasted on local TV.”

Meenal Mangala said the family has submitted a CD to the police containing footage from CCTV cameras installed at the school facing its front gate. The cameras captured the entire assault and show how the Hindu extremists beat the family, she said.

Fearing arrest, the Christian family has left their home and gone into hiding since being released from the hospital.

Only after Morning Star News spoke to Investigating Officer and Assistant Sub-Inspector Shish Ram asking why no action was taken on the complaint of trespassing and assault filed by the Christian family did officers register a case against the assailants on Friday (Sep. 27).

Ram said a case was registered against the Hindu assailants under First Information Report 608 for rioting, rioting armed with deadly weapon, unlawful assembly, disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.

He said justice would be done, though no action has been taken yet.

The land on which the St. John’s School was built was purchased in Sarla Mangala’s name on Sept. 30, 1985, according to official records. She and Pastor Mangala were running the school and residence in 2015 when some Hindus trespassed and erected a Hindu idol and brought construction material onto the campus, Sarla Mangala charges in a lawsuit.

“On June 10, 2015, in the evening between 6-6:30, some anti-social elements came to our land and tried to enter forcefully,” Pastor Mangala said. “They threatened to kill my wife if she did not leave the property, hence we filed a complaint in the court claiming that the property is ours and that no construction should be done on that land. I approached the court against the trespassing four years ago and got a stay from the court. The court pronounced judgment in our favor two months ago.”

Tehmina Arora, director of legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India, said in a press statement earlier this year that India must enact laws to protect religious minorities from such attacks.

“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith,” Arora said. “It is worrying to see these horrendous acts of mob violence continue. It is high time special laws are enacted to protect Christians and other religious minorities from being attacked and then imprisoned under false accusations.”

Mob attacks are not isolated incidents in India, added Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF-International.

“While the right to religious freedom is protected by the Indian constitution, we nonetheless see Christians face persecution and denial of their fundamental rights,” he said. “Sadly, the recent mob attacks are not isolated incidents but testify to what many Christians experience in India today. All people have the right to freely choose, and live out, their faith.”

India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Photo: Retired pastor’s wife, Sarla Mangala and son, Abhishek Mangala

Christian in Uganda Loses Children, Mother and Stepfather to Islamist Attack, Sources Say

Gaddafi National Mosque in Kampala, Uganda. (Wikipedia, Laika, ac)

(Morning Star News) – A 36-year-old Christian near Kampala, Uganda is mourning the deaths of his son, daughter, mother and stepfather, who were killed when Muslim extremists set their house ablaze seven weeks ago, sources said.

Before the radical Muslims set Ali Nakabale’s house on fire on Aug. 20 in Nakaseke, Nakaseke District about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Kampala, his wife and other area Muslims had become enraged that he and his mother had converted from Islam to Christianity, Nakabale said. He and his 56-year-old mother, Nankya Hamidah, had put their faith in Christ at an open-air evangelistic event in August 2018.

“I had just visited my aunt only to receive sad news of the burning of our house,” the distraught Nakabale told Morning Star News by phone. “Upon arriving home, I found the house destroyed by fire that burned my four family members, including my two children. On reaching the mortuary, I found their bodies burned beyond recognition.”

Killed along with Hamidah were Joseph Masembe, who had also left Islam to follow Christ and had married Hamidah in November 2018 after her husband’s death earlier that year; Nakabale’s 9-year-old daughter, Afsa Lawada; and his 6-year-old son, Yakubu Njabuga.

A neighbor told Morning Star News that he and others became aware of the fire at 1 a.m. on Aug. 20.

“We saw fire emanating from the house of Hamidah with loud chants from Muslims saying, ‘Allah Akbar [God is greater],’” said the neighbor on condition of anonymity. “Arriving at the scene of the incident, we found that the house had been razed down, killing the four family members.”

Nakabale said that the mosque leader of the Kyanja area of Nakaseke had written a letter to his stepfather, Masembe, stating, “It has come to our attention that since you got married to Hamidah, you have not been attending the mosque.”

“At this, then I realized that the Muslims were monitoring our movements,” Nakabale told Morning Star News.

Relatives first discovered the Christian faith of Nakabale and his family members in May, after he brought his young son to attend an evening worship service. The following day his son, Njabuga, told of his experience at the service to his mother, 32-year-old Sandra Nakamada. She became furious and began beating her son, Nakabale said.

“When my wife began beating my son, condemning his action of going to church, then I knew our visit to the evening prayers had leaked,” Nakabale said. “The same day my wife walked out of the marriage and left the home. We got scared because we knew that our lives were in danger. For three months, no Muslims visited our home.”

During that time, Nakabale’s mother Hamidah was caring for the two children, he said.

Nakabale, his mother and stepfather had been secretly attending the evening worship of an undisclosed church since December, without his wife and children. He said that in April his stepfather built a pork slaughterhouse near their homestead, leading area Muslims to question his presumed Islamic faith – and destroy the slaughterhouse, as pork is forbidden in Islam.

“It was on April 15 that the Muslims destroyed our slaughterhouse, following the incitement of the brother of Sheikh Jamada, claiming that Masembe was practicing prohibited acts,” Nakabale said.

Nakabale reported the deaths of his four family members to police, who have filed a case (No. SD: 32/21/08/2019) and are investigating, he said. Depressed and in mourning, he fears for his life and is living at an undisclosed location, a source said.

“Nakabale is depressed and is questioning God on the brutal deaths of his two little children,” said another source whose name is undisclosed for security reasons. “He needs counseling and prayers at this difficult moment.”

Also in central Uganda, in July a widow in was forced to flee her home after receiving Islamist threats when area Muslims discovered she was a Christian. Such incidents are the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Boko Haram Executes Two Christian Aid Workers in Nigeria

Screen capture from Islamic State’s Amaq news site of Christian aid workers Godfrey Ali Shikagham (left) and Lawrence Duna Dacighir before their execution by Boko Haram. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Islamic extremist group Boko Haram released a video last week showing the execution of two Christian aid workers in Nigeria, sources said.

Lawrence Duna Dacighir and Godfrey Ali Shikagham, both members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Plateau state, are shown kneeling while three masked, armed men stand behind them in a video posted Sept. 22 on Boko Haram’s Amaq news agency site. The two young men, who had gone to Maiduguri to help build shelters for people displaced by Islamic extremist violence, are then shot from behind.

Speaking in the Hausa language, the middle one of the three terrorists says in the video that they have vowed to kill every Christian they capture in revenge for Muslims killed in past religious conflicts in Nigeria. Dacighir and Shikagham, originally from Plateau state’s Mangu County, were captured by Boko Haram, now called the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), as they carried out their work in displaced persons camps.

Ethnic and religious tensions resulted in large-scale clashes between Muslims and Christians in Jos in 2001 and 2008.

It is not clear from the video, temporarily posted on YouTube, when the two men were executed. Their identities were confirmed by a relative, the Rev. John Pofi, a COCIN pastor.

Pastor Pofi, a cousin of the two executed Christians, told Morning Star News in a text message statement also shared with others that the two Plateau state natives had gone to Maiduguri from Abuja.

“Lawrence and Godfrey left Abuja for Maiduguri in search of opportunities to utilize their skills for the betterment of humanity and paid with their lives,” Pofi said. “We will never get their corpses to bury. The community will have to make do with a makeshift memorial to these young lives cut short so horrifically.”

If the federal government had created economic opportunities for those tempted to join extremist groups and had returned security to the country, his cousins would not be dead now, Pastor Pofi said.

“We must ask ourselves if this is the kind of country we want where young men who are earning an honest living are brutally killed while those who abduct and kill others are invited to dialogue with government and paid handsomely,” he said.

In a letter last week to the United Nations secretary general, attorney Emmanuel Ogebe of the U.S.-Nigeria Law Group, a legal consulting firm with an emphasis on human rights, expressed concern that the Nigerian government did not condemn the killing of the two men even though they were helping to provide shelter for displaced Nigerians.

“Lawrence and Godfrey …were using their skills to provide a basic human need of shelter to others when they were killed,” Ogebe stated. “Your excellency, we wish to draw your urgent attention to the fact that taken together with the execution of aid worker Hauwa  Liman (ICRC) this time last year, the recorded number of aid workers slaughtered by terrorists in Nigeria over the past decade is now in excess of 40.”

Ogebe asserted in his letter that the killing of the two Christians was Boko Haram’s first execution on the basis of “ethnic cleansing.” The two victims were from the predominantly Christian Mwalghavul ethnic group. Previous ethnic/religious clashes took place between the predominantly Muslim Hausa and Fulanis against the predominantly Christian Berom, Irigwe, Afizere, Tarok, Ngas and Mwalghavul peoples.

Ogebe wrote that workers for international aid group Action Against Hunger kidnapped in July issued a distressed plea for government help with no notable administration response. On Wednesday (Sept. 25), Action Against Hunger announced that one of its workers being held hostage had been executed.

“More executions of humanitarian workers could yet occur,” Ogebe wrote to the U.N. “Despite these humanitarian organizations’ resilience in still serving victims, the Nigerian Government has since just last week suspended Action Against Hunger and Mercy Corp on dubious grounds.”

International aid agency Mercy Corps suspended operations in Borno and Yobe states in northeast Nigeria after the Nigerian army closed four of its offices in the region without explanation, the agency announced on Wednesday (Sept. 25).

Ogebe urged the U.N. secretary general to obtain an assurance from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that all hostages will be released before the country’s Independence Day on Tuesday (Oct. 1).

“We also ask that you implore him to lift the suspension on humanitarian groups providing urgent services to victims,” Ogebe wrote. “We urge the secretary general to remind President Buhari of Nigeria’s obligations under international humanitarian law to negotiate the protection of aid workers and non-combatant civilians in its dialogue with BH/ISWAP [Boko Haram/Islamic State in Western Africa Province].

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

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