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Christian Leaders Urge Prayer for Nigeria’s Forgotten Victims

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Their pleas for government help falling on deaf ears, Christian leaders issued calls for prayer this month as Islamic extremist groups continued terrorizing northeast Nigeria.

In the wake of attacks and kidnappings by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), leaders of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) called for the release of four members long held captive by Islamic extremists in the country’s northeast.

The Rev. Stephen Baba Panya, president of the ECWA, said church leaders are troubled at the lack of effort by the Nigerian government to free church members years after Islamic extremist groups took them captive. He called for prayer for high school student Leah Sharibu, two aid workers, university student Lillian Gyang and the 112 girls who remain captive of the 276 kidnapped from a high school in Chibok, Borno state in 2014.

“Please join faith with me, and let us pray standing on God’s promises in Matthew 18:18-19 that Boko Haram/ISWAP or any other Islamic terror group shall not determine the fate of God’s beloved daughters Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha Ngaddah, Grace Lucas, and Lillian Gyang who are ECWA members, and also the remaining Chibok girls,” Pastor Panya said in a statement sent to Morning Star News.

Leah Sharibu, 15 years old when she was kidnapped by Boko Haram on Feb. 19, 2018 from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, in Dapchi, Yobe state, was one of 110 girls taken captive; the 109 Muslim girls were released while Leah remained captive when she refused to renounce her Christian faith.

Ngaddah, mother of two children and an aid worker with UNICEF, was abducted on March 1, 2018 in Rann, Borno state, when ISWAP militants attacked an Internally Displaced Persons camp where she was working. Her aged mother reportedly died of trauma soon after learning about the kidnapping.

Taku, a health worker with Action Against Hunger, was kidnapped by ISWAP militants on July 18, 2019, along the Damasak-Maiduguri highway in Borno state. She also was ministering to displaced people.

Lillian Daniel Gyang, a student at the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) in Borno state, was kidnapped on Jan. 9 by ISWAP while returning to school from the Christmas and New Year’s break from her native Plateau state.

ISWAP in 2016 broke off from Boko Haram, which attacked two predominantly Christian communities in Borno state earlier this month. The Boko Haram insurgents, who seek to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, attacked Pulka and Gwoza towns soon after Christians had finished Sunday evening services on Nov. 8, residents said.

“The attacks on Pulka and Gwoza towns started at about 9 p.m. and lasted till around 11p.m.,” area resident Vanessa Muda told Morning Star News by text message. “The Boko Haram terrorists invaded our towns shooting indiscriminately on our people.”

Another area resident, Polycarp John, said the Boko Haram militants were heavily armed.

“They were repelled when personnel of the Nigerian army who were stationed here fought them and forced them to retreat from Gwoza and Pulka towns,” he told Morning Star News by text message. “Our towns have been under constant attacks from Boko Haram since 2014, and at a time, Gwoza town was made the headquarters of the Boko Haram caliphate until the Nigeria army retook the town from them in 2018.”

The attacks came on the heels of an appeal by leaders of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), for prayer for Christians in southern Borno state facing terror from both Boko Haram and ISWAP militants.

“It is harvest time, which is challenging in normal years, but in these past years includes the threat of Boko Haram destroying the crop or attacking people as they harvest,” the leaders wrote in a Nov. 6 email. “Pray for many vulnerable villages in southern Borno state and other areas far from military bases.”

Six Nigerians Convicted

Lela Gilbert, senior fellow for international religious freedom for the Family Research Council, stated in a recent report that in spite of frequent appeals from Nigerian church leaders across the denominational spectrum and international human rights advocates, violence is escalating.

“Many informed observers describe Nigeria’s political leadership as both incompetent and corrupt,” Gilbert noted. “But that’s only part of the problem. Not only are they almost entirely Muslim in their religious affiliation (while the country’s population is roughly half Christian), as previously noted, several governmental leaders – beginning with President Muhammadu Buhari – belong to the Fulani tribe, as do numerous military and police officials. This is seen as one of the major roadblocks to reform, particularly with regard to the Fulani jihadi massacres.”

In the United Arab Emirates, authorities were able to convict six Nigerians resident in the UAE for financing Boko Haram activities in Nigeria, according to press reports.

Surajo Abubakar Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu were sentenced to life imprisonment, while Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, Abdurahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa each received 10-year prison sentences, according to Nigerian newspaper the Daily Trust.

An Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal convicted the six Islamists of providing Boko Haram with $782,000.

On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

The Ignored Genocide of Christians in Nigeria

 

Nigeria-Christian-child-searches-for-parents-VOICE_OF_THE_PERSECUTED™

Nigerian Christian child searching for his parents displaced after the attack

Gatestone Institute

The mass slaughter of Christians in Nigeria, which some international observers have classified as genocide, is reaching unprecedented levels.

According to an August 4 report, at least 171 Christians were slaughtered by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in the space of roughly three weeks:

And these are only those we know of. In reality, the toll is likely to be far higher. Many thousands are also being displaced by the violence from homes and such livelihoods as they had left after covid lockdown brought economic havoc…. Our news desk has been swamped by such stories for many months, yet this relentless and bloody toll of Christian lives is disturbingly absent from wider mainstream media.

In one of the recent raids, on July 10, Muslim herdsmen massacred 22 Christians — “mostly women and children” — and torched many homes in a farming community. “The Fulani came in and were shooting,” recalled Bilkisu James from her hospital bed. “They killed two of my children [and husband].” They also “hacked another five of Bilkisu’s relatives to death with machetes including a mother and her baby daughter and a mother and her two sons.”

A Muslim neighbor had apparently exposed the Christian family to his invading coreligionists: “Before I was shot,” Bilkisu continued, “I saw the Fulani man who is my neighbour, he even identified me. I surrendered to him on my knees” — to no avail. They shot her in the chest and back and left her for dead, even as she “heard them light the match and set the house on fire.”

The next day, a neighboring village was raided: “ten women, a baby and an elderly man were burnt to death in a house where they had taken refuge. Another seven villagers were injured and four houses burnt out.” On July 19, people attending a wedding celebration were among at least 32 Christians massacred in Fulani attacks.

In a separate “horrific night attack during a torrential rain storm on 23 July, at least seven Christians died… as militants brutally hacked unarmed men and women and children to death with machetes.” The report adds that “This was the second attack on the village within days, with seven murdered in an attack days earlier on 20 July.”

On July 29, Muslim herdsmen murdered another 14 Christians — 13 of whom belonged to one extended family. Only one member of the family remained alive; his wife, all his children, aunt, uncle, brother, and other relatives were slaughtered.

Most recently, armed jihadis stormed the Lion of Judah Church in Azikoro and opened fire on worshippers; four Christians were killed.

Listing more atrocities — there are hundreds through the years — is futile in one article. (For a comprehensive look at Christian suffering in Nigeria and other Muslim nations, see Gatestone’s monthly “Persecution of Christians” reports.)

For now, consider just the month of April, 2020:

  • Between April 1 and 2, machete-wielding Muslim herdsmen murdered at least 13 Christians: “[W]e woke up to bury seven people burnt to death… from an overnight attack,” one source said. Those killed “are mostly elderly Christians who were unable to escape as members of the community ran into surrounding bushes during the attack.”
  • On April 7, the Fulani herdsmen slaughtered a pastor and three members of his congregation, including a 10-year-old boy. The pastor, Matthew Tagwai, who was murdered in his home, is survived by a pregnant wife and two small children.
  • On April 10, the Islamic herdsmen murdered pastor Stephen Akpor, 55. “Two herdsmen came to a branch of our church, Celestial Church… where they shot him as he was praying and counseling five members in the church,” his colleagues said. “The herdsmen shot the pastor several times and then stabbed him to death.” He is survived by his wife and five children.
  • On April 11, Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot a Christian farmer dead.
  • On April 13, Muslim Fulani herdsmen decapitated two Christians, in a manner that required them to be “buried without their heads.”
  • On April 14, Muslim Fulani herdsmen butchered nine Christians, six of whom were children, one a pregnant mother. “They were armed with machetes and AK-47 rifles as they attacked us,” a survivor recalls: “They attacked our village at about 8 p.m., and they were shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ as they shot into our houses.” Thirty-three homes were set ablaze.
  • On April 16, Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed Sebastine Stephen, a young Christian student. “The Fulani herdsmen were over 50 carrying sophisticated guns and shooting sporadically. After they killed the young man,” a survivor reported, “they then broke into the house of Mr. Jack Nweke and abducted him with his wife, leaving behind their three children.”
  • On April 19, Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed four Christians. “Thirty-eight houses with 86 rooms were also razed down, while about 87 families are affected,” a source said.
  • On April 20, “A Christian farmer, Titus Nyitar, was shot to death, and his head was cut off,” an area resident said. Titus was “working on his farm when he was killed by the herdsmen.” Afterwards they “proceeded to the village to burn down houses and kidnapped three villagers.”
  • On April 22, Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 12 Christians; earlier, the report notes, they kidnapped a couple as they were being married inside their church.
  • On April 23, the Fulani “killed two people, kidnapped another and burned down a church building that included the pastor’s home in attacks on predominantly Christian areas in north-central Nigeria.”

Aside from the most scandalous or spectacular incidents—such as the recent rape and slaughter of a Christian student sheltering in a church—the so-called mainstream media does not report on the bulk of the persecution (lest, perhaps, a pattern emerge, and the attacks seem more ideologically driven, as opposed to mere “crimes”).

“It is as if the lives of Christians no longer matter,” said a Nigerian pastor about the wedding attack that claimed 32 lives:

It is very disturbing that these daily onslaughts on Christians … have been going on far too long unattended by the Federal and State governments…. there are no sympathy visits to the remnant victims in the communities… There are no steps taken to alleviate their sufferings by providing relief materials to them since they have been made internally displaced persons in their thousands.

“I strongly believe,” said a survivor of a recent Fulani attack that claimed the life of his sister and four other Christians, “that some of these security personnel who are Muslims are conniving with these armed men to attack our people…. the sad reality is that our people have made representations to the government at both the state and federal levels and nothing has been done.”

“What is the crime of these innocent people against Fulani herdsmen?” another local asked concerning an attack that left a pastor and a 10-year-old child dead.

For how long shall we continue to experience this killing? For how long shall we continue to beg the government and the security agencies to come to the aid of our people?

Such questions are especially relevant in light of recently released statistics: Since 2009, “not less than 32,000 Christians have been butchered to death by the country’s main Jihadists” — with next nothing done about it, a May report found:

Militant Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram … have intensified their anti-Christian violence … with hacking to death in the past four months and half of 2020 of no fewer than 620 defenseless Christians [470 by Fulani herdsmen and 150 by Boko Haram], and wanton burning or destruction of their centers of worship and learning. The atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked and risen to alarming apogee with the country’s security forces and concerned political actors looking the other way or colluding with the Jihadists. Houses burnt or destroyed during the period are in their hundreds; likewise dozens of Christian worship and learning centers.

According to numerous Christian leaders in Nigeria, the reason formerly simple Fulani herdsmen have, since 2015, managed to kill nearly twice as many Christians as the “professional” terrorists of Boko Haram is “because President Buhari is also of the Fulani ethnic group,” to quote Nigerian bishop Matthew Ishaya Audu.

In a January statement, the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella group representing most denominations, further accused “the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari” of “colluding” with the Islamic terrorists “to exterminate Christians in Nigeria.” The Association asked:

Since the government and its apologists are claiming the killings have no religious undertones, why are the terrorists and herdsmen targeting the predominantly Christian communities and Christian leaders?

Some Nigerian leaders go beyond Buhari and blame “the evil called Barack Obama” — in the words of Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s former Minister of Culture and Tourism. On February 12, the former government official wrote the following on his Facebook account:

What Obama, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton did to Nigeria by funding and supporting [current president Muhammadu] Buhari in the 2015 presidential election and helping Boko Haram in 2014/2015 was sheer wickedness and the blood of all those killed by the Buhari administration, his Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram over the last 5 years are on their hands.

Although President Buhari’s fellow Fulanis have claimed the lion’s share of attacks on Christians since his presidency, Boko Haram — the original scourge of Christians in Nigeria — is still active. Earlier this year, for instance, it released a video of a masked Muslim child holding a pistol behind a bound and kneeling Christian hostage, a 22-year-old biology student who was earlier abducted while traveling to his university. After chanting in Arabic and launching into an anti-Christian diatribe, the Muslim child shot the Christian several times in the back of the head.

Weeks earlier, Islamic gunmen abducted Reverend Lawan Andimi, a pastor and district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. After the terrorists demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release — two million euros, which his church and family simply could not raise — they beheaded the married father-of-nine. Earlier, in a January 5 video that his abductors released, Pastor Lawan had said that he hoped to be reunited with his wife and children; however, “[i]f the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God. I want all people close and far, colleagues, to be patient. Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything.”

The Nigerian government, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah said about the beheading of another 10 Christians earlier this year, is “using the levers of power to secure the supremacy of Islam… The only difference between the government and Boko Haram is that Boko Haram is holding the bomb.”

Lead photo report

Alert! Prayer Vigil THIS AFTERNOON for Leah Sharibu

At 2019 Prayer Vigil in Washington D.C. for Leah Sharibu. Pictured: Gloria Puldu, Rebecca Sharibu (Leah’s mother), Lois Kanalos Founder of VOP – Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

(By Faith McDonnell) Today is Nigerian Christian teenager Leah Sharibu’s 17th birthday.

At 4PM Eastern time, you can join a prayer vigil for Leah sponsored by our friends at the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) and the Leah Foundation. The information on how to join this zoom prayer vigil, here, is also in the links for both of these organizations:

To join the digital prayer vigil,
go to Zoom.com on May 14th at 4 pm (EST).
Meeting ID: 999 5251 1334
Password: May14

This is Leah’s third birthday in captivity. On February 19, 2018 her school was attacked by the Islamic jihadi terrorists, Boko Haram, along with 109 of her classmates. Only Leah is still in captivity. She refused to denounce her Lord Jesus and convert to Islam. So with Boko Haram she remains.

Leah’s situation is hauntingly similar to that of the April 14, 2014 abduction of the Chibok Girls, the 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno State, also by Boko Haram. We must not forget neither Leah nor those Chibok girls that remain separated from their families somewhere.

Christians in Nigeria are suffering unbelievable persecution. Leah is just one example of a persecuted Nigerian believer in Jesus, but she is a perfect representation of what hundreds of thousands of Nigerians in the north and middle belt states of Nigeria endure every day, and by praying for her today, we will also be praying for all of Nigeria’s persecuted Christians.

The prayer vigil is the culmination of seven days of prayer. We missed the prayer points during those days, but here they are listed so you can add them to your prayers. The Leah Foundation lists actions and advocacy ideas in which you can participate, and ICON has pictures for each of these seven days of prayer:

Day 1: Pray for Leah Sharibu’s Safe Release
Day 2: Pray for Leah Sharibu’s Family
Day 3: Pray for the Defeat of Terrorism in Nigeria
Day 4: Pray for World Leaders to Call for Action in Nigeria
Day 5: Pray that Leah and her Family are Encouraged Today
Day 6: Pray for Other Girls in Captivity
And then today, Pray for Leah on Her Birthday

Please join us in honoring Leah, a courageous Christian young woman, on her birthday, and praying for her release. This prayer vigil will be a great encouragement and comfort to her parents, and all of the Christians in Nigeria who are facing unspeakable violence from Boko Haram and the Fulani jihadists. They will know that they are not forgotten. They know that God is with them, but please make sure they know that we are, as well.

Lois Kanalos, Voice of the Persecuted with Faith McDonnell, Institute on Religion and Democracy

 

Nigeria: ‘Government is Boko Haram but without bomb’, says church leader

 

 

Wala Village attack Nigeria Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, went to the United Kingdom last week to discuss trade and investment amid increased criticism from church leaders back home who say the government is effectively enabling attacks on Christians in the country.

“They [the government] are using the levers of power to secure the supremacy of Islam, which then gives more weight to the idea that it can be achieved by violence,” Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto told the charity Aid to the Church in Need earlier this month. “With the situation in Nigeria, it is hard to see the moral basis they have to defeat Boko Haram.”

The bishop spoke out after the beheading of 10 Christians by the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) on Christmas day and an attack by the Islamist group Boko Haram on Christmas eve in which seven people were killed.

“The only difference between the government and Boko Haram is Boko Haram is holding a bomb,” the bishop said, adding the Buhari government had created the environment in which Islamist groups like Boko Haram could thrive.

“It is not a lie that this government is favoring Islam,” said Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, a prominent evangelical leader in Nigeria, pointing at how Buhari’s political appointments are all Muslim while Nigeria’s population is a nearly even balance of Christian and Muslim.

There have been too many unfulfilled promises, he told Nigeria Everyday. Para-Mallam has been an advocate for the release of Leah Sharibu, a Christian teenager who was abducted by Boko Haram almost two years ago and is believed to still be detained by the group. Last year Buhari promised her family he would do all he could to bring her back. “If the government is truly committed to ending some of these impunities, the crises and the attacks on Christians would have stopped, a lot more could have been done to achieve this,” said the pastor.

Nigeria is 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Just as in 2019, Nigeria’s score for violence was at maximum, due to attacks by Islamist Fulani militants, Boko Haram and other armed groups. Some 1,350 Nigerian Christians lost their lives in the violence.

Six Years after Girls Kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria, Attacks Persist in Area

Destruction after kidnapping of Chibok high school girls in April 2014. (Voice of America, Yaroh Dauda)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Nearly six years after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a high school in northeastern Nigeria, the Chibok area in Borno state is under threat of “annihilation” from the rebel group and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), area leaders said.

While 112 of the kidnapped girls remain in captivity, Boko Haram abducted another 22 people in the predominantly Christian Chibok area in December, according to a statement from the Kibaku Area Development Association.

“The Kibaku Area Development Association (KADA) wishes to cry out and put it on the record that we are being targeted for attacks and annihilation, whether at home or wherever we are,” Dauda Iliya, head of the association, said in the statement issued from Abuja on Feb. 3. “Our people and homelands are in danger. Our homes, farms, barns, and places of worship are destroyed. We are unable to exercise our religious freedoms as we prefer. Our very existence is under grave threat.”

Iliya said 11 parents of the girls kidnapped in 2014 have been killed in subsequent attacks, and eight other parents have died from post-traumatic disorders such as heart conditions related to the abduction of their daughters.

“Of 20 Chibok girls’ parents – our kinsmen and women – who are now deceased, 11 were killed during the Boko Haram attacks, eight died of heart conditions as a result of trauma, with those alive subsisting with various degrees of heart conditions and trauma along with their resultant effects,” he said.

Among the 22 people kidnapped in December, five were abducted in the nearby Kwarangilum community in a Boko Haram attack on Christmas Eve, with the rebels burning down houses and carting away live cattle, sheep, goats and chickens, he said.

“Five days later on the 29th of December in Mandaragrau, 17 Chibok indigenes were kidnapped,” Iliya said. “We also do not notice much effort by the government to permanently end the scourge of Boko Haram terrorism, and restore peace in our homelands in particular, and the northeast in general; nor the return of our 112 daughters held in captivity for close to six years.”

The area has been under constant attack by Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, for 10 years, he said.

Boko Haram terrorists on Feb. 18 attacked two predominantly Christian communities in Chibok County, Kwarangilum and Forfor villages, residents said.

“The terrorists [simultaneously] attacked the communities around 6 p.m., shooting indiscriminately and burning down houses,” Maina Kapi told Morning Star News by text message. “Please, your prayer is needed because today Boko Haram entered Kwarangilum area of Chibok.”

Habakkuk Aboki, another area resident, said Islamic extremists also attacked another part of Chibok County in January.

“In January 2020, two Christians were killed in Payasatan-Bilaburdar village, also here in Chibok,” he said by text message.

Confirmation of the killings and names of the victims could not be obtained from the area, which is subject to frequent communications blackouts.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Boko Haram Terrorists Attack Predominantly Christian Community in Northeast Nigeria

Remains of EYN church in Garkida, Adamawa state, Nigeria. (Facebook, Save the Persecuted Church)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremist militants from terrorist group Boko Haram on Friday night (Feb. 21) destroyed three worship sites and an unspecified number of houses in northeast Nigeria, sources said.

Thousands of people were displaced as the militants set three church buildings and the houses on fire in predominantly Christian Garkida, in Adamawa state’s Gombi County, area residents told Morning Star News.

“Please, pray for Christians in Garkida, Gombi LGA and its environs, that God will take control over the current situation they’re faced with,” one resident told Morning Star News by text message during the attack, which local sources said lasted from 7 p.m. until midnight.

The charred buildings belonged to the Church of the Brethren (EYN), the Anglican Church and the Living Faith Church, area resident Watirahyel Mshelia said.

“The Boko Haram insurgents were in hundreds and came into the town in nine trucks, while some rode on 50 motorcycles,” Mshelia told Morning Star News.

Another area resident, Manasseh Allen, said in a text message during the attack, “Our people in Garkida are right now running for their lives as Boko Haram carries out attacks on the community.”

Allen said reports about an impending attack by Boko Haram reached Christians in the town at about 1 p.m. on Friday, but that Nigerian armed forces took no proactive steps to protect them.

“In spite of all the local intelligence reports on the afternoon of Friday, after the terrorists were sighted around Kwarangulum in Chibok Local Government Area, which is close to Garkida, no effort was made by soldiers stationed in the area to preempt the attack,” Allen said. “I feel very sad about this.”

The attack broke up a meeting of EYN congregation’s Christian Women’s Fellowship, said another resident of Garkida, Yohanna Sunday.

Local media reported that the militants abducted an unspecified number of Christians. The number of casualties was unknown as many people had left town prior to the raid, though a military spokesman reportedly said one soldier had been killed and another wounded. The few remaining residents were said to have fled into hiding in the surrounding bushes upon sighting the Boko Haram invaders.

Adamawa Police spokesman Suleiman Nguroje confirmed the attack in a text message to Morning Star News.

“We have received a report that there is an attack in Garkida, and we’ve mobilized personnel to the area,” Nguroje said.

Residents told Nigerian newspaper the Daily Trust that the assailants first attacked a military checkpoint on Friday before razing public and private buildings in Garkida. Saying the attackers held the town for hours, ransacking and looting buildings, a local resident told the newspaper that the insurgents overpowered police and vigilante defenders before burning a police station, police barracks, church buildings, a hospital and a health center and the homes of two local officials.

The military had restored order and was patrolling the streets on Saturday (Feb. 22), a resident told the newspaper. The Daily Trust cited a security source as saying Boko Haram rebels, which seek to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, acted unchallenged for hours despite the presence of soldiers in the town during the siege.

A resident told another Nigerian news outlet that Nigerian army soldiers engaged the Boko Haram rebels in gun battle but then pulled back for reinforcements, during which time the insurgents inflicted most of the damage. The terrorists reportedly advanced to neighboring towns after soldiers returned and drove them out.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Kidnapped Christian Student Executed by Islamic Extremists in Northeast Nigeria

Young child extremist executes kidnapped Christian student.

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic State-affiliated terrorists have executed a Christian university student kidnapped earlier this month in northeast Nigeria, sources said.

In a video that Site Intelligence Group reported was released on the Islamic State’s Amaq news website, a boy of indeterminate age with a pistol shoots and kills Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a member of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) who was kidnapped on Jan. 9 on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Highway while returning to studies in Maiduguri, Borno state.

The armed, masked boy in the video, a member of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) according to Site, says in the Hausa language that the Christian from Plateau state will be killed in retaliation for “atrocities against us,” possibly referring to Muslim-Christian violence in the 2001 Jos riots.

“This is one of the Christians from Plateau state,” the boy says. “We want to tell all Christians that we have not forgotten what you did to our parents and grandparents. Christians all over the world must know that we will never forget their atrocities against us, until we avenge the bloodshed visited on us.”

The video then shows the boy shooting Dalep in the head from behind, and then in the back, killing him.

After Dalep was kidnapped, his family had received no information about his whereabouts. It is unclear when the execution took place, but Site reported that it took place at an unidentified outdoor area in Borno state.

From Jing village in Plateau state’s Pankshin County, according to a Jos resident originally from the area, Dalep was identified by members of his ethnic Mupun people as the one killed in the video. He was a second-year biology education student at the University of Maiduguri.

ISWAP in 2016 broke off from the rebel terrorist group Boko Haram, which originated in Maiduguri.

The Mupun Cultural and Development Association (MUCDA) on Wednesday (Jan. 22) confirmed the execution of Dalep in a press statement issued in Jos, with MUCDA spokesperson Kenzy Ngupar blaming Boko Haram. Many people in Nigeria make no distinction between ISWAP and Boko Haram.

“We have information that he was abducted on his way to school in Maiduguri, which led to the unfortunate video going ‘round of his killing,” Ngupar said. “At this point we condemn in its entirety the senseless abduction and killing of Nigerians in any part of the country and call on the government to step up practical efforts to address this growing menace in our country. MUCDA and indeed the entire Mupun nation is pained by this.”

Fabong Jemchang Yildam, chairman of the Plateau Youth Council (PYC), condemned the killing and declared three days of mourning and prayers among Christians.

“We are indeed pained that our young people have become targets for terrorists despite our peaceful and receptive nature,” Yildam said in a press statement on Wednesday (Jan. 22). “This gruesome murder of an innocent Plateau son is totally unacceptable and unjustifiable. It is an outrage to freedom of religion movement and respect for human lives.”

Saying the PYC strongly believes that humans are born free and equal and should achieve their full potential in a safe and loving society irrespective of background and belief, Yildam said the execution of Dalep was a serious setback in the quest for religious freedom.

“We demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice and receive punishment commensurate with the crime they have committed,” Yildam said. “Government must intensify the war against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in Nigeria and must ensure the safety of Nigerians anywhere in the country.”

Yildam called on Plateau youths to wear black armbands or black clothes in mourning through Friday (Jan. 24).

“We remain law-abiding even in this period of darkness and mourning,” the PYC spokesperson said. “We also commiserate with the immediate family of the martyr and others whose lives were untimely snuffed out. For the victory of evil over good can only be temporary.”

The Rev. Dennis Bagauri, Lutheran pastor killed in Adamawa state on Jan. 20, 2020. (File photo)

Lutheran Pastor Killed

In Adamawa state in northeast Nigeria, Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) officials confirmed the killing of the Rev. Dennis Bagauri at his church site home in the Nassarawa Jereng area, Mayo Belwa County, on Monday (Jan. 20).

He was shot to death the same day the district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, the Rev. Lawan Andimi, was beheaded by Boko Haram in the Michika area of Adamawa state.

The Rev. Musa Filibus, archbishop of LCCN, issued a press statement on Tuesday (Jan. 21) from the church’s headquarters in Numan town, Adamawa state, saying gunmen believed to be from Boko Haram killed Pastor Bagauri.

“The church leadership condemns in the strongest term the killing of the man of God, who has been in the vineyard of service to God,” Filibus said. “Please pray for the security agents to fish out the killers of our pastor.”

Yola resident Rebecca Musa told Morning Star News in a text message that “the men armed with guns broke into the LCCN where the pastor lives and shot him dead at night when all persons in the area had gone to sleep.”

Besides leading a congregation, Pastor Bagauri also served as an adviser on religious matters to the Adamawa government. The state police commissioner said investigations are underway.

Adamawa Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri on Tuesday (Jan. 21) sent his condolences to the church and the family of the slain pastor, whom he described as “a God-fearing man, easy-going, and with great humility.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

NIGERIA: Boko Haram beheads Rev. Andimi Branch Chairman of (CAN)

Rev. Andimi pleads for help on video released by the Boko Haram

Nigerian Christians are reeling from shock after learning Rev Lawan Andimi was executed on Jan. 20 by the Boko Haram. He was an ordained minister of EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, served as EYN district secretary for the Michika area and was a branch chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the Michika area. The state CAN chairman, Bishop Dami Mamza, disclosed on Tuesday that Boko Haram insurgents had demanded for £200million ransom and rejected the N50million offer before executing Andimi. He said the captors threatened to kill him on Saturday but did not carry out the execution until Monday.

Part of a message Voice of the Persecuted received this morning from one of our sources on the ground said, “Having sleepless nights with the executions of Boko Haram and especially the killing of the pastor in December and Rev. Andimi. Although, there are many cases of such nature. It is very disturbing.”

Ahmed Salkida, a journalist known to have access to Boko Haram and release information for them, shared the horrific news on Twitter.

Later, he also shared, “Reverend Lawan Andimi was beheaded yesterday afternoon, the video of the appalling executions with that of a soldier was obtained at 2:42pm. I made sure that the family, the authorities and the church were duly informed before the news was put out to the public this morning.”

Reports claim the Boko Haram terrorists rejected a N50m ransom offer that fell short of their steep demand and went ahead to behead Rev. Lawan Andimi on Monday. The insurgents had demanded for N946m but was only offered N50m, infuriating the terrorists.

Morning Star News reported that Rev. Lawan Andimi had a treasured life – loving family, an affectionate congregation and respect from his colleagues.

The kidnapped district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Michika County, in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, had stated in a video that he trusted in God should he lose his life to Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram.

CAN President Samson Ayokunle confirmed in a comment to the Nigerian newspaper the Daily Post that Pastor Andimi had been executed.

Pastor Andimi had said in a Boko Haram video released by Salkida on Jan. 5 that he hoped to be reunited with his wife, children and colleagues.

“If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God,” he said. “I want all people close and far, colleagues, to be patient. Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything.”

Pastor Andimi, who also served as chairman of CAN’s local chapter, was kidnapped on Jan. 2 when Boko Haram attacked two Christian communities in the area.

In the video released on Jan. 5, the pastor called on church leaders to speak out for him and urge Adamawa Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri to intervene to secure his release.

“I have never been discouraged, because all conditions that one finds himself is in the hand of God,” Pastor Andimi said in the video.

Strongly Worded Statement

CAN President Ayokunle said in a press statement that the execution of Pastor Andimi was “gruesome, unfortunate and a shame on the federal government,” according to Nigerian newspaper The Nation.

“What has become of intelligence-gathering of our security agencies?” Ayokunle said in the statement. “Is this government and the security agencies still claiming that the war against these criminals in religious garments has been won despite all the killings? Is the government sincere in fighting these terrorists or merely paying lip service to the war against the insurgency? Is there any hope that our security is guaranteed under this government?”

CAN’s director of legal and public affairs, Kwamkur Vondip, reportedly said in a statement that the church did “everything within her reach to secure the safe release of this pastor gentleman but it was not possible because they didn’t have the military power to do so,” according to The Nation.

“Just last Sunday, a clergyman, Rev. Denis Bagauri, was murdered by unknown gunmen in his residence at Mayo Belwa of Adamawa state,” Vondip reportedly said. “The church views the unabated kidnappings, extortions and killings of Christians and innocent Nigerians as shameful to the government that each time boasts that it has conquered insurgency.”

In the strongly worded statement, Vondip said it was reprehensible and saddening that each time the government claims the defeat of Boko Haram, more killings are committed.

“In the light of the current developments and the circumstantial facts surrounding the prevailing upsurge of attacks against the church, it will be difficult for us to believe that the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari is not colluding with the insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria, bearing in mind the very questionable leadership of the security sector that has been skewed towards a religion and region!

“Is that lopsidedness not a cover-up for the operation of the insurgency? If not, why couldn’t the well-equipped security agents of Nigeria get this man killed rescued?”

Vondip urged the government to ensure the release of Leah Sharibu, kidnapped from a high school in Dapchi, Yobe state in February 2018, and hundreds of other victims of Boko Haram and splinter group the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP).

“A government that cannot protect the governed is a failed government,” Vondip said. “Can the government tell us what they did since Rev. Andimì cried out to them for help?…If the security agencies claim the terrorists are operating outside the country, why is it possible for these hoodlums to invade the country, kill, maim, burn and kidnap without any convincing checks on the part of the security agencies?

“Since the government and its apologists are claiming the killings have no religious undertones, why are the terrorists and herdsmen targeting the predominantly Christian communities and Christian leaders?

“If the security agencies are not living up to the expectations of the government, why hasn’t it overhauled them with a view of injecting new visionary ones into the security system?”

He said that as long as the government refuses to act, the crimes will continue.

“We are almost losing hope in government’s ability to protect Nigerians, especially Christians who have become endangered species under its watch,” he said.

Ayokunle called on the international community to come to the aid of Nigeria, “especially, the Nigerian church, so that we might not be eliminated one by one.”

President Buhari, in a statement to the Daily Post, said security forces were working continuously to secure the release of hostages and appealed for Nigerians not to see terrorist attacks and plans as a religious fight or persecution of Christians.

“Not seeing terrorists as they should be is exactly what they wish to divide Nigerians,” Buhari said in the statement. “Nigerians must continue to be united in ensuring that they do not subscribe to the terrorists’ message of division. Unfortunately, some leaders and politicians seek to make political capital from our religious differences.

“As we fight Boko Haram on the ground, so too must we tackle their beliefs: stability and unity in face of their hatred is itself a rejection of their worldview. This government shall never tolerate religious intolerance. We clearly and unambiguously restate our support for the freedom to practice whichever belief you wish. The politicization of religion – as forbidden by the constitution – has no place in Nigeria.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured” (Hebrews 13:3).

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. You can also join the Persecution Watch prayer conference call tonight and pray united for them. Call details below

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