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This teenage girl still suffers as a captive of the Islamic Boko Haram group in Nigeria. They call her an infidel, an unbeliever, beneath them and deserving of punishment. They say she will be their ‘slave for life’.
Why, what has she done? In the face of evil, this young girl refuses to recant her faith in Christ and convert to Islam…come what may.
Our ‘sister’ is in chains for Christ. Pray as if you were held captive with her, as you would want others to pray for you. #FreeLeah #Pray4Leah
(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.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A decade after Boko Haram began a bloody campaign to impose sharia (Islamic law) on all of Nigeria, Christian leaders say some areas are still under the control of the terrorists.
This information has been continually confirmed by Voice of the Persecuted sources in Nigeria.
The Rev. Mohammed Abubakar Naga, chairman of the Borno state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), told Morning Star News that the terrorists are still active in the northeastern part of the country where the group originated and has displaced thousands of people, effectively closing many churches.
“Gwoza East, especially the hills, has been taken over by Boko Haram,” Pastor Naga said by phone. “The terrorists still attack Christian communities there. This is even with the presence of personnel of the Nigerian army in the area.”
After beginning a violent campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria 10 years ago, Boko Haram has killed an estimated 35,000 civilians, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The agency said 37 aid workers lost their lives in the course of serving those displaced by the attacks.
Two of the many pastors Boko Haram killed in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state include the Rev. Faye Pama Musa, then secretary of the CAN’s Borno state chapter, slain on May 14, 2013 after the terrorists followed him from his church building to his house and shot him to death; and Pentecostal pastor George Ojih, captured in 2009 and beheaded for refusing to recant his Christian faith.
Initially targeting government and police officials as part of its campaign against corruption, the insurgency that began in Maiduguri, Borno state increasingly struck Christian educational institutions, health facilities and worship sites, sometimes destroying entire Christian communities.
The CAN’s Naga, who has pastored Pentecostal Believers Covenant Church in Maiduguri for 35 years, said the Boko Haram uprising has been the greatest challenge to Christians in northern Nigeria. Christians were either killed or forced to flee to other parts of the country or to countries like Cameroon and Niger.
In the 2014, Boko Haram attacked congregations of prominent denominations such as the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), the Church of the Brethren (EYN), Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), and Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Pentecostal churches, Pastor Naga said.
Commonly referred to as Boko Haram, loosely translated as “[Western] education is forbidden,” the group is now officially part of the Islamic State as ISWAP, the Islamic State in West Africa Province.
In 2002, Mohammed Yusuf, a public servant with the Borno state government and an ardent Islamic student under the tutelage of Sheik Ja’afar Mahmud Adam in Maiduguri, broke ties with the Islamic cleric and founded his sect.
Based in Maiduguri, Yusuf’s teachings included opposition to Christianity and Western democracy, which he said had their roots in the Bible and Western political philosophy. He labeled them “haram,” or forbidden.
In 2009, shortly after Yusuf beheaded Pastor Ojih as an example to others of what happens to those who refuse to convert to Islam, he and other Boko Haram members were captured and extrajudicially killed.
Abubakar Shekau took over as leader after Yusuf’s death in July 2009. Increasingly sophisticated attacks followed, and in 2015 the group aligned with the Islamic State. Its suicide bombings and other attacks have displaced an estimated 2.3 million people from their homes, and in 2015 the Global Terrorism Index ranked it the deadliest terror group in the world.
Nigeria’s military has retaken most of the 20,000 square miles that Boko Haram had seized in Borno state, but the group continues to carry out kidnappings and guerrilla attacks. In April 2014 the group abducted 276 students from the Government Secondary Girls School in Chibok, Borno state, and on Feb. 19, 2018 kidnapped more than 100 high school girls in Dapchi, Yobe state.
About 100 of the 276 girls kidnapped from Chibok are still missing. Nearly all of the Dapchi girls were released on March 21, 2018 after the government negotiated their freedom, but Boko Haram retained Leah Sharibu, now 16, because she refused to renounce Christ.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – More than a month after an aid worker indicated in a video that kidnapped Christian teenager Leah Sharibu had been killed, a government official in Nigeria on Saturday (Aug. 31) said she was alive.
Citing intelligence from security agencies, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu released a statement reaffirming that the government is negotiating with terrorists for the release of Leah and other captives.
“Contrary to false reports, she [Leah] is alive, given assurances from our security agencies, and the government is committed to her safe return, as well as all other hostages to their families,” Shehu said. “Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward processes that should hopefully yield her release by her captors.”
Lines of communications remain open with the kidnappers of Boko Haram, now called the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), to secure her release, he said.
“With the abduction of loved family and friends, the government understands how difficult these times are for them, but the government is pursuing many options to ensure the safe return of Leah Sharibu,” Shehu said. “The worrying cycle of speculations on whether Leah Sharibu, the kidnapped Dapchi schoolgirl, had been harmed by her abductors is what has made us to speak out.”
Though the government negotiated with Boko Haram for the release of the other girls, Shehu said that the administration does not encourage payment of ransom to secure the release of captives. For this reason, he said, the government was not rushed to yield to demands of the terrorist group.
“Kidnapping for ransom should never be encouraged,” he said. “This means not capitulating to the demands of terrorists; refrain from rewarding their heinous crimes with payment.”
Leah, 16, has been in Boko Haram captivity since Feb. 19, 2018, when she was abducted alongside more than 100 other students of the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe state, in north-east Nigeria. While the other girls were released in March 21, 2018 after the kidnappers’ negotiations with the government, the terrorists retained Leah because she refused to renounce Christ.
In late July Boko Haram released a video in which a Christian aid worker kidnapped on July 18, Grace Taku, mentioned that Leah and three other Christian women in captivity had been killed.
“I beg that Nigeria government should please, I’m begging again, please do something to see that we’re released, because this had occurred before in this organization, Red Cross, where some ladies were caught – Hauwa and Zipporah, they asked to be released, but because Nigerian [government] did not do anything about it they were killed,” she said in the video. “I’m begging on behalf of all of us here that Nigeria should not allow such to happen to us. And it also happened again with Leah and Alice [Ngaddah], because Nigeria could not do anything about them they were not released, they were also killed.”
In the video, Taku pleads with Christian leaders, the Nigerian government and international agencies to intervene to secure their release.
The Rev. Stephen Baba Panya, president of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) said in a text message to Morning Star News that Christians in Nigeria, and especially in the ECWA to which Leah and her family belong, no longer trust that the government is genuinely working to free her and other captive Christians.
“We no longer rely on the Nigerian government’s assurances, which often amount to nothing,” Panya said. “Instead, as the Scriptures say, the just shall live by faith concerning Leah and many other national issues.”
Panya said he and other Christians must put their trust in God rather than the government.
“Our defense, confidence, is faith in God. We are praying and trusting God to bring back Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha, Sister Grace, and the remaining Chibok girls back to us safely in Jesus name,” he said. “If God decides to still use the Nigerian government or security agents for that, to God be the glory.”
ECWA General Secretary Yunusa Nmadu, Jr., said the church is happy over news that Leah is still alive. He urged the government to intensify efforts towards securing her release and that of other Christians.
“ECWA welcomes the statement from the federal government of Nigeria reassuring citizens that the world’s most popular prisoner of religious freedom, Leah Sharibu, is still alive,” Nmadu said in a text message to Morning Star News. “We urge the government to do more beyond assurances of her being alive and see to the speedy release of Leah Sharibu.”
The government needs to do more to reduce the insecurity in the country, he added.
“We are slowly sliding into a failed state due to the spate of insecurity, and the government seems to be helpless in the hands of bandits to the extent that some state governments are now holding talks with bandits that should be behind the bars,” he said.
Five Christians Killed
Much of the country’s descent into lawlessness has taken place in Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria. On Thursday (Aug. 29) Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed five Christians and destroyed many homes in an attack on predominantly Christian Kiri, in Kaduna’s Kaura County, area residents told Morning Star News.
The attack came two years after a herdsmen assault in the same area that displaced many people who had returned to try to start their lives anew.
In last week’s attack, the herdsmen mounted a surprise invasion while most people were still working in their fields, area resident Jude Bako told Morning Star News by phone.
“Five of our people have been killed, and two others are still missing as we do not know where the herdsmen took them to,” Bako said. “The Fulani herdsmen attacked our village while we were still working on our farms. Our people who were in the village at the time were forced to flee for their lives, too.”
Another village resident said he narrowly escaped being killed.
“I escaped being killed by the herdsmen when they attacked us at about 4 p.m.,” Musa Gabriel told Morning Star News. “Four of our people were killed during the attack, and the fifth person died from gunshot wounds yesterday morning, Friday.”
Gabriel said that in the attack two years ago, the herdsmen burned down the worship buildings of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) and ECWA.
Bege Katuka, chairman of the Kaura Local Government Council, confirmed Thursday’s attack.
“Five persons were killed, while two others are still missing,” he said. “A number of houses were destroyed during the attack.”
Police also confirmed the attack.
Kaduna State Police Command spokesman Yakubu Sabo confirmed that four persons were killed in the attack on Thursday (Aug. 29), and that a fifth person died the next day from gunshot wounds.
“On Friday, Aug. 30 while our men were combing the area, they discovered four corpses, and the 35-year-old Daniel, who was injured during the attack, later died, making five people who were killed,” Sabo said.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Voice of the Persecuted Note: Despite government reports, the article below confirms multiple communications sent to VOP from our sources that the Boko Haram still controls a very large area in North Nigeria’s Gwoza Local Government area. Unable to return home, many Christians have been trying to survive in IDP camps for years.
A Chibok Parent, John Bassa, has stated that at least 49 towns in the north east, are still being occupied by Boko Haram insurgents.
He said this on Tuesday during a town hall organized by Channels to assess the performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the last four years.
Bassa who stated that 44 of his relations who were Boko Haram commanders had been killed, and at least 50, were still “active and high-ranking officers of Boko Haram” controlling some territories, maintained that many towns are currently empty as a result of the insurgence.
When asked: “Are you saying that Boko Haram is still in control of some territories in the northeast, from where they plan and execute these attacks – he responded by saying “of course”.
He went further to explain that “out of 52 towns in Gwoza, its only three right now that you can freely live within. (that is, Limankara, Gwoza town and Pulka).
“Gwoza town was liberated by our former President Goodluck, one week before election then in 2015 and the new administration liberated Limankara and Pulka so, 49 towns are still empty with nobody apart from the Boko Haram. READ MORE
Agenzia Fides reported that Fr. Isaac Agubi, a priest who serves at the Holy Name church of Ikpeshi, 230 km away from Benin City, capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria was released by the police. The priest had been kidnapped on June 16th along the Auchi-Igarra road, around 5 pm, as he was returning home from church service. Area hunters helped police forces identify where the kidnappers were in the forest. During the release of the priest one of the bandits was injured.
It’s believed the kidnappers belong to a group of Fulani, who in Nigeria and other West African countries have committed of violent raids. In the last week in northern Nigeria, violence linked to the Fulani issue and others committed by Boko Haram, caused the death of over 150 people, while nine others were kidnapped, the report stated.
In the State of Sokoto on June 15, 25 people lost their lives in raids, likely committed by the Fulani, in three villages. In a separate incident, a woman, and her stepson, were kidnapped by a gang of Fulani on Airport Road, in the city of Osi, in the state of Ondo, on their way to church.
On 12 June an officer and 20 soldiers in the State of Borno were killed in the attack on a military formation. The Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA), then claimed responsibility for the attack.
On June 14, at least 34 people were killed in an assault by an armed group that attacked three villages in the area of Shinkafi in the State of Zamfara. The militanys, who arrived on motorcycles, set fire to the houses and shot all those they encountered.
A few days ago His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, had denounced “the unprecedented level of insecurity” and the “complete impunity” of who sows chaos and destruction in the Country.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Despite endless calls for the Nigerian government to do everything to secure the release Leah Sharibu, the girl who refused to denounce her Christian faith, will spend another birthday, May 14, in Boko Haram captivity.
Human Rights Lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe, shared with Voice of the Persecuted an event at the prestigious Georgetown university in Washington, Nobel Literature Laureate Wole Soyinka paid a poignant tribute to heroine Christian Schoolgirl Leah Sharibu in an ode to Leah and Chibok last week.
Likening Leah to iconic human rights champion the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Soyinka said we must “celebrate the exception who said “no” “ as it reminded him of Mandela who refused conditional release.
Reciting the ode titled “Mandela comes to Leah”, Soyinka said, “ “No”, she said, “Faith is not of compulsion”…her torch undimmed in the den of zealots.”
Prof Soyinka said he could only recite excerpts from the ode because he broke down the last time he had tried to read it.
Prof Soyinka also did an epic takedown of a Georgetown professor’s claim that poverty and desperation was behind Boko Haram terrorism.
He said that it was ideological bordering on the metaphysical and we should not underestimate it. “We’re dealing with something much deeper” he said and recalled the son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria who was upper middle class but who disappeared with his family to join ISIS abroad.
“There’s a will to deny the possibility of horror and evil. We have reached a point where We have to go beyond the material analysis of this phenomenon. It goes beyond poverty and marginalization. The ideology of sheer morbidity”
Soyinka deplored the 20 American intellectuals who wrote protesting the proposal to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization actually saying it would interfere with their “scholarly research” saying it “took my breath away”. “Some were my friends (but) there they were in all seriousness simply because they had a very wrong analytical approach to this problem.”
“We must simply jettison the language of political correctness. Political correctness is turning Africa continent into the graveyard of freedom and liberty if we don’t call things by their proper names…”
“We’re dealing now with the toxin of power which barely manifests itself under the cloak of religion.”
Also on the panel with Soyinka was the ambassador who belatedly announced Obama’s decision to designate Boko Haram as an FTO as then top US diplomat for Africa Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas Greenfield.
Greenfield pleaded impotency in responding to the Chibok abductions due to denials by many as to what happened which she said was her biggest challenge. “I had this feeling of impotency – a superpower who couldn’t do anything…I still feel it…there’s no more frustration to be in and I felt frustrated.” She also mentioned a recent attack in Nigeria where girls were taken the previous week.
Ambassador Greenfield paid tribute to some of the girls whom she had met as being strong saying she herself was traumatized just watching the drama “Chibok: Our Story” which preceded the panel discussion.
International human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe who led the successful advocacy effort to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization thanked the cast and producer/playwright of “Chibok:Our Story” Wole Oguntokun for giving voice to the Chibok situation despite efforts of the government to silence the advocacy.
He mentioned the sad news that Leah’s 16th birthday was coming up in captivity on May 14 and the good news that one of the escaped Chibok girls he brought to school in the US was graduating with an associate degree in science the same week.
While stating that he forgave ambassador Greenfield for the Obama administration’s delay in designating Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization because she delivered the good news, Ogebe noted that the Chibok girl graduated from college without one dime of US government support in the past 5 years. “We can’t bring back the girls but we can all do something,” he added.
Ogebe and Ambassador Greenfield had testified together before the US Congress on the day the FTO designation was announced – she represented the Obama administration while Ogebe and a Boko Haram victim represented civil society https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-113hhrg85552/html/CHRG-113hhrg85552.htm
The panel event was part of the Currents Festival at Georgetown University where the Chibok play which has performed in Nigeria and Rwanda made its US debut to rave reviews. Wole Oguntokun the acclaimed producer/playwright is a protégée of Soyinka.
1. Abuja – National Christian Centre, CAN Hqts Abuja and the Unity Fountain Park
Time: 9am – 12noon
2. Jos – ECWA Hqts Church – Time 12noon -3:00pm
3. Lagos: Realm of Glory Hqts Church
Off Dibor Street, Okota-Isolo, Lagos
YOLA AND PORTHARCOURT NOW ADDED
With also now have two additional Cities:
4. Yola – Unity Chapel.
Adasolid Estate, Opp. FRSC, Numan Road, Kofare.
Jimeta – Yola
Pastor Zidon: 08081919000
5. Port Harcourt –
Date: Mon 13th
@ Cornerstone Christian Foundation, Manila Pepple St by JAMB office off Fruit Market, D/Line, Port Harcourt. 5pm.
Contact: Sis Carol 08081739960
6. London UK Please join us to pray and protest from May 14, 2019 1-1:30pm, the address is: 9 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5BX. Nigerian High Commission. CSW
7. Washington USA – Leah Birthday Cake-cutting commemoration Hart Senate Building, Capitol Hill May 14, 2019 (email@example.com) AUP & USNLG
8. Washington US – Radio Ogebe’s tribute to Leah on WAVA 105.1 FM at 5:30pm EST Monday May 13 2019 listen live online at http://player.listenlive.co/57651/en
Ogebe encourages people to post and share Leah’s photographs as their temporary profile picture for a day.
VOP Note: Leah has stood for Christ for 449 days. Please continue to pray for her and all others in captivity for their faith.