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Leah Sharibu spends 16th birthday in captivity

(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

Time: 10:30am-12noon

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 (justiceforjos@gmail.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.

17 Christians Communities wiped out by Boko Haram in Nigeria

Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) By our Nigerian Correspondent — Boko Haram has been carrying out vicious attacks against Christians communities mainly in the southern part of Borno State and northern Adamawa State. Christians constitute 85% of the population in these areas. Scores of victims and eyes witnesses spoke with VOP’s Nigerian Correspondence who recounted that the latest attacks as aimed at destroying Christian communities.

According to some of the IDP (internally displace people) camp officials, there are over 4,000 Christians in an unofficial internally displaced camp in Lassa from 17 Christian communities in Borno and Adamawa States. These communities include, Bdagu,  Ngurhengwal,  Yaza,  Kwang, Multafu, Pambam, Emmi,  Kelekasa,  Shawa, Maikdadri, Kummaza,  Nkirvu,  Yaffa,  Huyum, Bagajaw, Izge and Wassada. Residents are predominately Christian who are members of Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), ECWA, Redeemed Church of God, and the Catholic Church.  “We have nowhere to go”, a witness said.

These communities depend on seasonal farming as a major means of income, while others rear animals, sell craft work or petty trading for survival. They’ve suffered perpetual attacks with great losses, including their homes, from the Boko Haram since 2013. Many have been gunned down, slaughtered and abducted since the Islamic militants began terrorizing the region.

Fleeing residents and Christian leaders are extremely concerned with the rise of recent attacks by the armed group. Within a week, the militants raided, Kuda-Kaya, Diambo, Makalama, Yimirali-Autlha, Yimirali-Barka, Yimira Kopa, Gatamarwa,- Maik-dadri  and Multafu villages killing scores of people, took their food and belongings then set their homes ablaze.      

Interview with residents of 2 Christian communities recently attacked:

Maikadiri Village Attack:

Those from Maikadiri are predominantly farmers with over 70% Christians who worship with denominations such as Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), Deeper Life Bible Church (DLBC) and Catholic Assemblies. The village is located in the Uba Local Government Area of Borno State. 

Boko Haram attacked Maikadiri village on March 18, 2019. They went through along Lassa settlements killing 2 people and abducted many others on their way back to hideouts in the Sambisa Forest.

One eye witness who narrowly escaped shared his experience with our correspondent.

“Using a robe, they tied my hands behind my back and killed the two others in front of me. Once they identify you as Christian, they don’t waste time and butcher you with knife”, he added. Their attention was drawn from me when the Lassa security forces started shooting from afar. I quickly crawled on my stomach for some distance then ran into a bush and escaped.

A church leader who spoke with VOP’s correspondent commended the effort of the Lassa security forces who ambushed the insurgents. They exchanged fire with the militants and many of the Boko Haram members were killed. The security force also seized 3 of their cars and 5 motorcycles.

After the military left the community, the Boko Haram returned for a revenge mission on March 26, 2019. They assumed the villagers collaborated with the military to ambush them, so they burned down the entire village. The community members lost everything they owned. It was also dangerous for them to stay within the region without military protection. With no other choice, they moved to the unofficial IDP camp as a result of the dire security challenges.  

Multafu Attacks:

On March 22, 2019, an armed group of Boko Haram rode into Multafu village on motorcycles and bicycles around 7p.m.and started shooting. Two Christians were killed in the presence of their family members.

A villager told Voice of the Persecuted, “They went straight to the Church of Brethren of Nigeria (EYN) and burned it to ashes while chanting “Allahu Akbar.” They also looted food then burned down 7 Christian homes.  

During the attack the insurgents caught a fleeing woman with her 2 daughters. They let her to go but started to leave with her daughters. The woman quickly made up a story and claimed that one of her daughters was married. Not wanting any married women, they left the one thought to be married and sadly abducted the other one.  One victim told VOP that the Boko Haram used the abducted girl’s mobile phone after they left. The caller stated, “We are coming back to take more girls, food and burn the houses.”     

After hours of operations, the militants looted food items and left at their own convenience. Security forces within area refused to respond even when they were called at the beginning of the attack. “We no longer have hope in the security forces, we knew they would never come,” said a community leader.

Unfortunately, on March 24, 2019,the Boko Haram came again as promised. With the cover of night and no security forces around to repel the attack, they traveled through the same towards the village. They interrupted church services taking place, killed 3 men and set the whole village on fire. Witnesses claim they did their operations calmly and stayed in the village for some days.

“We thought the insurgents had left, so we went back to the village to bury our dead. To our surprised, they were still in the village waiting to ambush us on our return,” said a witness.

“I have told security forces several times, but they refused to show up” a clergyman shared. They took up courage with the help of a vigilante group and a few security forces to retrieve the bodies of the murdered members of the community. The militants engaged them and after much pressure, they were finally able to gather the remains and bury them. 

Analysis of Security Challenges

  • Since the displacement of people beginning with Boko Haram attacks in 2013, victims have been battling with insecurity in their region. The security formations and installations have proven to not be enough for both Adamawa and Borno states.
  • Security forces don’t respond to attacks in adequate time and in some instances don’t respond at all.
  • Residents have been forced and often encouraged by local government to form their own vigilante groups to protect their communities.
  • In 2017, when they wanted to regain their communities from the Boko Haram. They selected community members as delegates to approach the Borno State government to help with a security installation to liberate their communities. The government refused to act.
  • Residents met with the former Caretaker Chairman, House of Assembly member and political stakeholders but VOP was told, “They deceived us by saying they would look into the matter but then deliberately refused. A community member said, “We believe the inaction occurred because we are a Christian community.” Later, they and concluded to hire the service of a local vigilante group to partner with their Christian youth to liberate their communities. “We had initial meetings with Muslims including Fulani herdsmen within the community, but to our dismay they betrayed us by withdrawing from the process.” We contributed between (N1000 –N2000) per household and called on some of our brethren based in the cities to send their contributions as well. We gathered around N700, 000 and approached the Vigilante leader at Gombi Village.
  • In that same week, a government delegation from Yobe State came to the same vigilante leader for the same job. Out of sympathy, he agreed to our request and decided to offer 30 trained vigilantes to be paid every month at a sum of N30, 000 each.
  • They stayed for 3 months and we spent a total amount of N6, 000,000.00 on their salaries and feedings. They worked hard, chased away the Boko Haram from our communities and gave us access to farming and other normal activities,
  • While we were enjoying the peace process, the insurgent had renewed strategies and used the herdsmen around the region and massively attacked the vigilante group and killed the leader. After that, they chased the Christians from their communities.                   

Challenges and Needs

  • We want to go back to our communities we need security so that we can start faming to feed ourselves; the government is not doing anything to help us. 
  • There is no good school for our kids; public school is inadequate for learning and prone to abduction at any moment. Although there is EYN private school, they charge N3,200 as tuition fee and it’s not affordable to most of us.
  • We need medical attention, spiritual reading materials and prayers to stand in these moments of trial and persecution. 

VOP Note: Please keep praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Multiple attacks have taken place since this update.

Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christian brothers and sisters experiencing brutal persecution.

We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. They will not be forgotten!

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We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

Gunmen Attacked Nigerian Christian Community in Michika

Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) by our Nigeria Correspondent—Boko Haram terrorists attacked a village in Adamawa State which forced residents to flee to the mountains.

Kwada Tizhe, an eye witness of the Boko Haram attack in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, shared with VOPs correspondent during an interview. I was lying down, resting with my family at home in the evening hours on Monday (March 18, 2019). Around 6:40 in the evening, I heard the echo of gun shots which I initially thought was the military testing their rifles. Within a short time, the shots sounded closer and consistent. We began to hear the heavy weapons and could see the red fire flare of bullets sailing through the air. Then followed  sounds of rocket launchers and explosive devices. When I realized Boko Haram was attacking and saw everyone scattering, I joined the men, women and children that were running for cover.

The Boko Haram rode in on many motorcycles and an open-bodied truck. They were shooting and throwing bombs and kept approaching closer while we were running to the hills. It was fortunate the attack happened at night when it was hard to see from a distance which direction we were running to. If it had been earlier, the casualties could have been higher.

The militants separated themselves into groups. Some went straight to the Union Bank, bombed the entrance and took lots of money. Others proceeded to the market square, broke into shops and carted away many food stuffs such as rice, macaroni, indamine and other provision items. They virtually emptied all the shops and loaded all the food items into their truck.

The other group kept shooting and throwing bombs in every direction. Unfortunately, 4 people were shot and all of them died in route to the hospital. Apart from the 4 that were killed, an elderly person was shocked with the sounds of the explosives and died due to a history of high blood pressure.

“The attack continued for hours, then they left the town through another route. While they were moving, the truck was damaged. They abandoned it after removing the money and looted items. Security forces came from Yolo, Madagali and Mubi to surround the town.” Contrary to reports, the villagers claim they showed up after the attack.

Our correspondent asked, What are the possible reasons for the attack?

Response: I think they have been specifically targeting Michika because it’s the largest Christian community with strong political/economical influence. We have heard several times from them that they would wipe us away. All these persecutions started because of the following reasons.

In the 2015 Presidential elections, we voted for President Good Luck Jonathan against the present sitting President (Muhammadu Buhari). Since then, the Muslim communities around us were not happy and they decided to plot to a point that lead to the separation of our market square.

The Muslims fixed ‘market day’ on Sunday’s which affected church service worship. When we drew their attention to it and asked them to consider our faith, they refused to pay attention because it was deliberate. We then organized all the Christians in the churches and changed the market day from Sunday to Saturday and patronized our brethren shops. The Muslims were so angry that they made multiple advances to armed groups to attack us.

Another reason is the coronation of a Christian brother as King of Michika which was recently done by the traditional ruler. They were shocked for a Christian to emerge as King in northern Nigeria. They consider it as taboo for an infidel to obtain this kind of title. They vowed that they would wipe away the community and even attack the king.

The forth reason might not be far from political interest. We always vote for the candidate that supports Christians. This 2019 election, we voted against the sitting President and the governor before the INEC declared it inconclusive. A new election was scheduled this Saturday, March 23, 2019. They know we will vote against the sitting governor. In their thinking, if we leave the town in fear of a Boko Haram attack, then it would give them room to rig the elections.

I think above all, as do others, that the Boko Haram has run short of money and food items. That’s why they attacked us. In any case, we are all back to our homes now, and we are going nowhere.

Voice of the Persecuted is committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief and encouragement. We are committed to our mission called PROJECT 133 in Nigeria. They will not be forgotten!

We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thankful for each one of you who have joined this mission through your prayers and support.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. Donations always desperately needed.

Nigeria: Where is Leah Sharibu

As we approach the next elections, the question that should agitate our mind is “Where is Leah  Sharibu?” This should be made a subject of discussion particularly for the incumbent President seeking a second term. Unfortunately, we seem to have swept this issue under the carpet. See the full article here to read the questions not only Nigerians but the global community are asking about this Christian girl who still has not been rescued.

Please keep Leah in your prayers.

Nigeria’s herder-farmer conflict escalates due to government inaction – Amnesty International


(World Watch Monitor) Almost 4,000 people have been killed and thousands displaced in fighting between herders and farmers in Nigeria’s middle belt in the past three years, Amnesty International says in a new report.

Amnesty, who started documenting clashes in January 2016, said yesterday (17 December) violence was increasing with more than half (57%) of the 3,641 recorded deaths in the past three years occurring in 2018, and that the government’s failure to curb the violence and prosecute the perpetrators, was exacerbating the situation.

“The Nigerian government has displayed what can only be described as gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population and end the intensifying conflict between herders and farmers. The authorities’ lethargy has allowed impunity to flourish and the killings to spread to many parts of the country, inflicting greater suffering on communities who already live in constant fear of the next attack,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

Clashes between predominantly Christian farmers and mainly Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria have a long history, including raids and counter raids, but both groups testify that they mostly lived together in peace.

Since 2017 the conflicts have become increasingly violent and deadly, said Amnesty, attributing it to competition of resources due to climate change and the influx of refugees on the run from the Islamic Boko Haram insurgency. Attackers appear well organised and armed with sophisticated weapons.

“The killings are becoming no longer herder-and-farmer clashes” but a “deliberate attempt to conquer and occupy the land of the people’s ancestral heritage,” said Dr. Soja Bewarang, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Plateau State in June, after suspected Fulani gunmen went on a killing spree in the state leaving scores dead.

As World Watch Monitor has reported, the attacks are concentrated in the states in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” which straddles the precolonial line dividing the predominantly Muslim north from its Christian south.

Although Ojigho denied the conflict had anything to do with religion or ethnicity, others have said conflicts over land have taken on an ethnic and religious character and that without acknowledging this, politicians will not be able to properly address the conflict.

report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in July said the conflict had evolved “from spontaneous reactions to provocations to become premeditated scorched-earth campaigns in which marauders often take villages by surprise at night”, claiming six times more lives than the Boko Haram insurgency.

(Photo: World Watch Monitor)

Nigerian news reports Boko Haram executes second aide worker

(Voice of the Persecuted) Nigerian news sources are reporting shocking news that Boko Haram terrorists have executed the second International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) aide worker, Hauwa Leman.  ICRC had begged the Nigerian government to intervene, it is sad their cries have gone unheard.

In a report first published by TheCable, the terrorist group vowed to keep Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi Christian schoolgirl, as “a slave for life”.

The Nigerian government said it was shocked and saddened by the killing of another aid worker by the insurgent group.

In a statement issued in London on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, described her execution as “dastardly, inhuman and ungodly”, saying nothing can justify the shedding of the blood of innocent people.

“We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker.”

“However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors, he said.”

Atiku Abubakar, Former Vice President (1999-2007), I’m deeply saddened by the murder of Hauwa Leman, an ICRC aid worker, by terrorists. I implore the Federal Government to deploy every reasonable tool at its disposal to bring Leah Shuaibu and all the children in Boko Haram captivity home. (photo)

About 3 hours ago, VOP began receiving the chatter of this heartbreaking report. Please keep praying!

 

Boko Haram threatens to kill Christian teenager

(Voice of the Persecuted) Urgent prayers needed for Nigerian Christian teenager threatened to be executed today by Boko Haram. 15 year old Leah Sharibu was among over 100 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from a school in Dapchi, Northern Nigeria on Feb. 19, 2018. It was a kidnapping that mirrored what happened in Chibok four years earlier when 276 girls were abducted from the school in Chibok, Borno State. A month after the Dapchi abduction on March 22 the militants released 104 of the schoolgirls, with the exception of Leah. The teenager was the only Christian in the group. Boko Haram members told Leah to renounce her Christian faith and become a Muslim or they would not let her go. The Muslim schoolgirls begged her to do it and go home with them, but she refused to deny her faith in Jesus and is still a captive of the Boko Haram. The Nigerian government has been bombarded with pleas, including those from the international community, to step up and secure Leah’s immediate release.

A month ago, Boko Haram militants killed one of three Red Cross workers being held as their captives. The militants gave a one month deadline to kill Leah and the two others unless the Nigerian government met the radical group’s demands for their release. Today marks that deadline!

We ask that you pray with us for young Leah and the Red Cross workers.

…for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Rom. 14:8-9

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 5:8, we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Our brothers and sisters in the New Testament did not fear martyrdom. In fact, they considered the martyrs crown to be an honor and read in Revelation 20 that the martyrs will reign with Jesus in heaven.

Not to promote a cult of martyrdom, but to encourage that we need not fear what the enemy will do. Rejoice that Christ has conquered death and is victor over all. The persecuted church in Nigeria and around the world is not a “victimized” church but part of the global, persecuted church who is a “victorious” church because the bride of Christ follows a “victorious” Savior.  The Son, who has conquered death, sits at the right hand of God the Father.

Only God knows what will happen to Leah Sharibu, this day, or in the days to follow.  Pray for her release and let us also pray and rejoice that His good, acceptable and perfect will will be done to bring Him glory.  For Leah Sharibu, our dear sister, belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. Not jihadists or even the devil can snatch her out of the hand of Jesus.

Let us pray for God’s will to be done in this situation that will bring him glory.
Let us pray that Leah will be comforted, encouraged, and strengthened in her heart by the overwhelming presence of God.
Let us pray that Leah will know the overwhelming love of God in her situation.
Let us pray that Leah’s parents and relatives be comforted.
Let us pray the Nigerian church will take heart from Leah’s testimony.
Let us pray that the Nigerian church will rise up and be the church that God wants it to be. That the Nigerian believers will be the light of Christ in the darkness of that nation.
Let us pray the Boko Haram and Fulani will see the light of Christ and embrace Jesus.
Prayer is our greatest weapon. James reminds us that the prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect (James 5:16).
Leah said early on in her captivity that she would not deny Christ. Brothers and sisters let us not deny her by refusing to pray for her. Let us keep her, the Nigerian church and the global persecuted church in our prayers.
Let us keep on praying for those who were in the shadow of the cross.

 

Leah Sharibu’s Father, Church Raise Plea after Boko Haram Threat

Parents in Chibok, Nigeria mourn the loss of girls kidnapped in 2014. (VOA)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Following disclosure of a video by Boko Haram Islamic extremists threatening to kill Christian high school student Leah Sharibu within one month, Christian leaders in Nigeria have declared three days of prayer and fasting.

In the video disclosed last week, the terrorists are shown killing an aid worker. In a comment to Morning Star News, the 15-year-old Leah’s father, Nathan Sharibu, pleaded with the terrorists to have mercy on his daughter, who was not released with more than 100 kidnapped high school girls earlier this year because she refused to convert to Islam.

“I plead that the leaders of the group have mercy on my daughter and spare her life,” Sharibu told Morning Star News by phone on Monday (Sept. 24). “I also want to plead with the Nigerian government to do all they can to secure the release of my daughter, Leah. She does not deserve to die in this cruel way.”

Leaders of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Sharibu’s church, directed all its congregations within and outside Nigeria to observe three days of fasting and prayers (Sept. 24-26).

Signed by the Rev. Yunusa Nmadu Jr., ECWA general secretary, the letter, entitled “URGENT PRAYER CONCERN,” calls for prayer and fasting for Leah’s release and that of other Boko Haram abductees. Two aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross,

Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Alice Loksha Ngaddah, remain hostage following the terrorists’ killing of Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, 25, a mother of two who worked as midwife with the ICRC.

Dated Sept. 19, the letter calls on Christians across the world to join the church in praying for their release.

“We urge other churches worldwide to join us,” it reads. “Thank you for standing in the gap.”

The head of Nigeria’s Anglican Communion also voiced his concern. The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), said in a statement after the church’s synod met in Minna, north-central Nigeria, that the Nigerian government must undertake all means possible to secure the release of Leah and others.

“No sacrifice is too much to get these girls released,” Okoh said. “In the interest of democracy, freedom of religion and national cohesion, sufficient effort should be made to bring their ordeal and that of their parents and families to an end.”

The late Khorsa and the two other health workers were abducted on March 1 in a Boko Haram attack on Rann, on Nigeria’s far northeastern border.

In the Boko Haram video, made available to Nigerian online outlet The Cable, the insurgents assert they made contact with the government about the hostages but received no response.

“We contacted the government through writing and also sent audio messages, but the government have ignored us,” a spokesman of the group says. “So, here is a message of blood. The other nurse and midwife will be executed in similar manner in one month, including Leah Sharibu.”

The Nigerian government last week confirmed that the group sent the video to officials in which the terrorists threaten to kill Leah and the aid workers. Garba Shehu, a media aide to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, said in a statement that the video showed the killing of Khorsa, kidnapped with the two other aid workers in Borno state.

“The government of Nigeria strongly condemns this reprehensible and inhuman act,” Buhari was quoted as saying in the statement. “No religion permits the killing of the innocent.”

He appealed to the United Nations and other international agencies to prevail on Boko Haram “to stop these acts of extreme barbarism” and said his government will make efforts to secure the release of Leah, the two Red Cross workers and all other Nigerian citizens held captive by Boko Haram.

In an audio recording released by a local journalist on Aug. 27, Leah says in her native Hausa that she wants the Nigerian government and “people of goodwill” to rescue her.

She and the other girls were kidnapped on Feb. 19 from Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, in northeast Nigeria’s Yobe state. All were released in March except Leah.

Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 1,000 children in Nigeria since 2013, according to CNN.

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 nine years to impose sharia (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.

Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

VOP note: It’s not to late to pray for Leah Sharibu’s release. Please join us in praying for her along with others held captive (thousands since the insurgency), our Nigerian brothers and sisters and the nation of Nigeria.

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