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Pastors in Nigeria Say Military Complicit in Attacks on Christians

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Christian leaders meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria this month delivered a sharp rebuke, saying the military is complicit in attacks on Christians.

With the governor of Plateau state in attendance, the Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), delivered a report to Buhari at the presidential villa on Nov. 6 stating that 646 Christians in Plateau state alone were killed from March through October.

“The narrative has been that these people are killed by unknown gunmen, or suspected herdsmen, or that there have been farmer-herders clashes,” Datiri said in the report, obtained by Morning Star News. “All these are deceptive narratives deliberately framed to conceal the truth and continue to perpetrate the evil.”

The truth, he said, is that Muslim Fulani militias heavily armed with sophisticated guns, including AK47s, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades have attacked and killed Christians.

“After the attacks, it is the Fulani herders that settle and graze their cattle on the farms of the victims,” Datiri said in the report to the president. “The proficiency and mode of operation in all of these attacks, as testified by the surviving victims, leaves us in no doubt of the complicity of the military being used as hired mercenaries by the Fulani militias. On this, we are disappointed, and sadly so, that the government has not delivered on her constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property.”

Datiri said the herdsmen in collaboration with Boko Haram jihadists and other Muslim militants in the areas of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bassa and Bokkos destroyed 30 church buildings and 4,436 Christian homes, sending 38,000 Christians into 10 camps for displaced persons from March through October.

“Are we to believe that the armed forces sent to keep peace go with the instructions to protect them?” Datiri said. “The implication is that they protect the aggressors and leave the victims mercilessly helpless.”

Datiri pointed out that as the figures pertain only to Plateau state, they do not include those killed by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.

For his part, Plateau Gov. Simon Lalong reportedly faulted Muslim and other community leaders for compounding the crisis of violence in the state by hiding criminals.

Buhari, a Fulani Muslim, responded to the Christian leaders by saying he did not doubt COCIN’s report on the atrocities committed against their communities.

“The communities (in Plateau) have lived long enough to know that there is nothing they can do without each other than to live together in harmony,” Buhari said. “As leaders, we must persuade the upcoming generation using every channel, particularly the educational institutions, to live together with our neighbors.”

Christian and Muslim leaders have to work harder to convince the upcoming generation that they must live together in the same country, Buhari said.

“It is not all Muslims that are against Christians, and neither are all Christians against Muslims,” he said. “In our security arrangement, the police is in the frontline in making sure that communities irrespective of ethnic or religious bias live together in peace.”

Church Under Siege

Datiri told Buhari the church in Plateau state has been under siege for 18 years, bringing the 3 million COCIN members of the 104-year-old church to their knees across central and northern Nigeria.

“We are here to tell you the truth with the hope that it will help you to make adjustments and take appropriate action,” he said. “We are aware that you might have received several false and misleading information regarding the perennial crises. It is our hope that you will oblige us to tell you our concerns and pains affecting us and make suggestions that will bring about positive impacts on your government.”

With about 65 percent of the population of Plateau state belonging to the COCIN, the church leaders have first-hand knowledge of the true facts on the ground, he said.

“Your excellency, in the last 18 years, COCIN as a denomination has suffered destruction of lives and property more than any church or any community,” Datiri said. “The devastation in terms of massacre of lives and destruction of property is unimaginable. Pastors and members in their thousands have been killed in cold blood, either shot dead or slaughtered like animals or burned to death. Houses and businesses have been burned or looted and farmlands have been destroyed.”

COCIN has also suffered in the northeastern states of Yobe, Borno (in Maiduguri, Gwoza and Chibok, for example) and Adamawa states, he said.

“And yet, despite the huge government intervention in that area, very little relief has come to COCIN and her members, if any,” he said. “We are aware that a lot of government intervention in terms of relief material has gone to the northeast. Unfortunately, our members in that zone have been left out of the distribution.”

In the Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro counties of Bauchi state, where more than 90 percent of the population belongs to the COCIN, thousands of lives have been lost and billions of naira in property destroyed, Datiri said.

“We have also suffered heavy losses in Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kaduna states,” he said.

In Plateau state, where thousands of lives and billions of naira in property have also been lost, the devastation this year has been incredible, he said.

“Even on the day you visited Jos in March and launched the Peace Roadmap, your excellency, lives were being massacred in Bokkos and Bassa Local Government Areas,” Datiri said. “And in June, over 300 people (about 350) were massacred, slaughtered in cold blood over a period of three days in Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas. Since then, almost on a daily basis, people are either ambushed and shot dead or attacked in their homes and killed in cold blood or killed on their farms.”

The COCIN leaders sought the meeting with Buhari to correct misinformation about the nature of the violence, he said. They urged Buhari to take urgent measures to end the carnage and to rehabilitate and resettle displaced Christians.

“We have a lot of our members in the IDP camps and others living with relatives in other communities,” Datiri said. “There is an urgent need for them to return back to their homes to continue their farming activities, which is their main source of livelihood. Their lands and homes need to be recovered and rebuilt.”

The Internally Displaced People are depressed and broken and need rehabilitation, he said.

“They need to be reassured that the government is concerned of their welfare. Economically, they need to be re-equipped with farming tools, fertilizers and seeds,” he said. “The church has always been the last hope for the poor, downtrodden, depressed and broken. It is the first place for rehabilitation. If the IDPs are resettled in their various communities, their usual meeting points are their churches, schools and hospitals established by the same church. The church buildings and institutions should be rebuilt.”

Finally, he called on the government to secure the release of kidnapped Christians, including Leah Sharibu, a high school Christian abducted along with more than 100 other girls from Dapchi in February but not released with the others because she refused to recant her faith.

“We call on the federal government to take every adequate measure in ensuring their safe release from their abductors,” Datiri said.

About 100 of 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok, in Borno state, in 2014 are still missing.

Boko Haram, whose name is loosely translated as, “Western education is a sin,” has fought for more than nine years to impose Islamic law on all of Nigeria, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing more than 2 million. Boko Haram militants reportedly warned parents of the returned Dapchi girls not to send their daughters back to school.

In 2015 the Nigerian military began taking back most of the territory Boko Haram had controlled, but many areas remain, and the terrorists are still mounting isolated attacks. Jubilee Campaign reports that, according to figures from the Stefanos Foundation, Boko Haram in 2017 took responsibility for attacks that claimed more than 650 lives.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Boko Haram Attacks Relentless in Wake of Kidnapping of Girls in Nigeria

Boko-Haram-leader-Abubakar-Shekau.-Wikipedia

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. (Wikipedia)

(Morning Star News) – After a massacre in which members of the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group last month dressed in Nigerian Army fatigues, Christian leaders believe elements in the military must be complicit in the often-unchallenged attacks on Christians.

In the wake of the group’s kidnapping of more than 300 high school girls, Boko Haram has launched continuous attacks, some of them resulting in dozens of fatalities, on predominantly Christian areas of northeastern Nigeria. As trust in the Nigerian military falters, Christians have reportedly begun trying to arm themselves in defense.

“In Ataggara, Southern Senatorial Zone of Borno state, Boko Haram attacked and were repelled by the community,” three Christian leaders wrote on June 10 in Nigerian newspaper The Guardian, describing a June 1 insurgent assault that killed nine church guards posted at a worship service.

Community leaders went to military officials in Pulka to report the attack and were assured that a unit would protect the town’s people, wrote church leaders Pogu Bitrus of Chibok, the Rev. Ibrahim Dauwa of Gwoza and the Rev. James Yaga, also of Gwoza. 

“The following day some people appeared in Nigeria Army issue in nine armored personnel carriers bearing the colors and insignia of the Nigerian Army,” the wrote. “They announced to the villagers that they had come to assess the security situation. When the people gathered to hear them, the men that came in armored personnel carriers and in Army uniform opened fire and killed over 250 men, women and children.”

The assailants pursued those who fled into the bush and butchered them with knives or shot them to death, they wrote.

“We are aware that the Nigerian military is a deeply divided fighting force,” they wrote. “As the Ataggara case above illustrates, when some Muslim commanding officers and others receive reports from our communities, they pass such reports to Boko Haram, who come in Nigerian Army issue uniforms to perpetrate pogroms in our communities.”

Suspected members of Boko Haram, an insurgent group that seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, reportedly undertook an equally insidious ruse on June 4 in Barderi, on the outskirts of the Borno state capital of Maiduguri. Pretending to be a few of the itinerant preachers common in Nigeria, the Islamic extremists gathered villagers for a homily on “the righteous path” at about 9:30 p.m. witnesses told Agence-France Presse (AFP).

After villagers had gathered, another set of insurgents joined the false preachers, and they opened fire on the crowd, the witnesses said. At least 45 men, women and children were killed.

Boko Haram members had assaulted four villages in Gwoza District the previous day in violence that community leaders said may have resulted in hundreds of deaths.

Enumerating attacks that killed from 2 to 46 people in each of nearly 50 other villages from mid-May to mid-June, the three church leaders noted that the violence took place where Christianity is the dominant faith.

“We want to place on record that all the communities mentioned above are predominantly Christian,” they wrote. “Why are we being attacked now? The answer lies in the result of the 2011 presidential election. It is on record that the Middle Belt, which the Southern Borno State Senatorial Zone is a bona fide part of, voted massively for President Goodluck Jonathan; a fact that enabled the sitting president to succeed at the polls in 2011. Going towards 2015, Boko Haram, on behalf of the oligarchic North, wants to decimate and displace our communities so that we would be less of a factor.”

Additionally, observers say Boko Haram violence is meant to destabilize the government not only by showing it cannot contain attacks but by sowing religious conflict. As Christians seek arms to defend themselves against an insurgency that some say already has superior weapons to those of the Nigerian military, a plea by the three church leaders for the president to arm Christians belies how desperate churches have become.

“Our most profound prayer to President Jonathan, which we want other Nigerians and the international community to pressure him to accede to, is that he should arm our communities,” the three church leaders wrote. “If we have access to arms and ammunition like Boko Haram, we would have a sporting chance of defending our lives, dependents and property.”

Suspected Boko Haram members launched another massive attack at the end of the month near Chibok, where the high school girls were kidnapped on April 15, spraying a church service in Kwada village with bullets on June 29 before burning homes. Scores of Christians were killed there and in neighboring Kautikari, and five church buildings in the villages were destroyed.

In Abuja, the Nigerian capital, a Boko Haram bomb attack on a shopping mall at the Emab Plaza on June 25 killed 24 people. Area witnesses told Morning Star News that the mall includes a Christian bookstore and several Christian-owned stories. Though some Muslims were killed, Boko Haram sought to maximize Christian fatalities, as bombers timed the explosion for 4 p.m., 15 minutes after many Muslims had left for the 3:45 p.m. prayer time at a nearby mosque.

“The bomb was targeted at the mall because there is a Christian bookshop where there were Bibles, Christian literature and videos are sold,” said a resident who requested anonymity. “Also, all the shops that sell computers and accessories are owned by Christians.”

Shortly after the explosion, the Rev. Musa Asake, national secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), told Morning Star News, “It is unfortunate that there is a deliberate attempt to annihilate Christians at all cost.”

Besides Abuja, in the country’s center, Boko Haram has also attacked other parts of Nigeria. In Owerri, Imo state in the country’s southeast, authorities thwarted an attempt to bomb the Living Faith Church, a Pentecostal church.

On 14 June, Boko Haram members gained entrance to the church and planted bombs the night before more than 15,000 worshipers would attend services the following day. Vigilant security guards reportedly alerted police and soldiers, who arrested six of the insurgents.

Moses Oyedele, pastor of the church, confirmed the bombing attempt.

“Yes, there were some Boko Haram men who were arrested in my church by security agents as they were planting bombs in the church,” he told Morning Star News. “The bombs were detonated and evacuated by the security agents. We thank God for His intervention.”

Imo Gov. Rochas Okorocha said in a press statement that authorities averted a massive disaster.

“The bombs had the capacity to go within a 500-meters range, and it would have been a disaster if they had exploded, as the church where it was planted is located at a densely populated area of the state,” he said.

The three church leaders from Chibok and Gwoza assert that high-ranking Muslim officials are disingenuous in stating that the Boko Haram insurgency is devoid of a Muslim extremist agenda.

“In 2012, in a widely publicized video recording that is easily accessible on the Internet, Abubakar Shekau … announced the mission statement of his sect,” they wrote. “Among other things, he said, ‘This war is not political. It is religious. It is between Muslims and unbelievers. It will stop when Islamic religion is the determinant in governance in Nigeria or, in the alternative, when all fighters are annihilated and no one is left to continue the fight.’”

Let’s remember these prayer points when praying for Nigeria:

  • Pray for strength for our Christian brothers and sisters, and the weak and defenseless
  • Pray for guidance for President Jonathon
  • Pray for courage and a renewed spirit
  • Pray for protection, and divine intervention
  • Pray for the kidnapped girls that God may provide comfort and courage to their families and the girls
  • Pray for the Church leaders that they may find a renewed strength, and guidance, knowledge and protection
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence and love to envelope all those facing persecution

Why the Media Doesn’t Cover Jihadist Attacks on Middle East Christians

attacks on christians

“To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace”—Hebrews 6:6

The United Nations, Western governments, media, universities, and talking heads everywhere insist that Palestinians are suffering tremendous abuses from the state of Israel.  Conversely, the greatest human rights tragedy of our time—radical Muslim persecution of Christians, including in Palestinian controlled areas—is devotedly ignored.

he facts speak for themselves. Reliable estimates indicate that anywhere from 100-200 million Christians are persecuted every year; one Christian is martyred every five minutes. Approximately 85% of this persecution occurs in Muslim majority nations. In 1900, 20% of the Middle East was Christian. Today, less than 2% is.

In one week in Egypt alone, where my Christian family emigrated, the Muslim Brotherhood launched akristallnacht—attacking, destroying, and/or torching some 82 Christian churches (some of which were built in the 5th century, when Egypt was still a Christian-majority nation before the Islamic conquests).  Al-Qaeda’s black flag has been raised atop churches.  Christians—including priests, women and children—have been attacked, beheaded, and killed.

Nor is such persecution of Christians limited to Egypt.   From Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east and from Central Asia to the north to sub-Saharan Africa to the south; across thousands of miles of lands inhabited by peoples who do not share the same races, languages, cultures, and/or socio-economic conditions, millions of Christians are being persecuted and in the same exact patterns.

Muslim converts to Christianity and Christian evangelists are attacked, imprisoned, and sometimes beheaded; countless churches across the Islamic world are being banned or bombed; Christian women and children are being abducted, enslaved, raped, and/or forced to renounce their faith.

Far from helping these Christian victims, U.S. policies are actually exacerbating their sufferings.  Whether in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, or Syria, and under the guise of the U.S.-supported “Arab Spring,” things have gotten dramatically worse for Christians.  Indeed, during a recent U.S. congressional hearing, it was revealed that thousands of traumatized Syrian Christians—who, like Iraqi Christians before them are undergoing a mass exodus from their homeland—were asking “Why is America at war with us?”

The answer is that very few Americans have any clue concerning what is happening to their coreligionists.

Few mainstream media speak about the horrific persecution millions of people are experiencing simply because they wish to worship Christ in peace.

There, is of course, a very important reason why the mainstream media ignores radical Muslim persecution of Christians: if the full magnitude of this phenomenon was ever know, many cornerstones of the mainstream media—most prominent among them, that Israel is oppressive to Palestinians—would immediately crumble.

Why?  Because radical Muslim persecution of Christians throws a wrench in the media’s otherwise well-oiled narrative that “radical-Muslim-violence-is-a-product-of-Muslim-grievance”—chief among them Israel.

Consider it this way: because the Jewish state is stronger than its Muslim neighbors, the media can easily portray Islamic terrorists as frustrated “underdogs” doing whatever they can to achieve “justice.”  No matter how many rockets are shot into Tel Aviv by Hamas and Hezbollah, and no matter how anti-Israeli bloodlust is articulated in radical Islamic terms, the media will present such hostility as ironclad proof that Palestinians under Israel are so oppressed that they have no choice but to resort to terrorism.

However, if radical Muslims get a free pass when their violence is directed against those stronger than them, how does one rationalize away their violence when it is directed against those weaker than them—in this case, millions of indigenous Christians?

The media simply cannot portray radical Muslim persecution of Christians—which in essence and form amount to unprovoked pogroms—as a “land dispute” or a product of “grievance” (if anything, it is the ostracized and persecuted Christian minorities who should have grievances).  And because the media cannot articulate radical Islamic attacks on Christians through the “grievance” paradigm that works so well in explaining the Arab-Israeli conflict, their main recourse is not to report on them at all.

In short, Christian persecution is the clearest reflection of radical Islamic supremacism. Vastly outnumbered and politically marginalized Christians simply wish to worship in peace, and yet still are they hounded and attacked, their churches burned and destroyed, their women and children enslaved and raped. These Christians are often identical to their Muslim co-citizens, in race, ethnicity, national identity, culture, and language; there is no political dispute, no land dispute.

The only problem is that they are Christian and so, Islamists believe according to their scriptural exegesis, must be subjugated.

If mainstream media were to report honestly on Christian persecution at the hands of radical Islamists so many bedrocks of the leftist narrative currently dominating political discourse would crumble, first and foremost, the idea that radical Islamic intolerance is a product of “grievances,”and that Israel is responsible for all Jihadist terrorism against it.

by Raymond Ibrahim 

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