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ISWAP Terrorists Execute Five Christians in Nigeria, Video Shows

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremist terrorists who kidnapped 11 Christians in northeast Nigeria on Christmas Day have executed five of them, according to a video released by the Islamic State’s AMAQ News agency.

The 49-second video, dated Dec. 29, shows five armed members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) lining up behind five men dressed in orange robes who are kneeling with their hands tied behind them. Ordered in the Hausa language to state their names, each of the kneeling men in turn is heard saying their name and adding, “I’m a Christian.”

Morning Star News heard the names spoken as Uka Joseph, Sunday, Wilson, Joshua Maidugu and Garba Yusuf.

Speaking in the Hausa language common throughout northern Nigeria, one of the ISWAP militants then says,

“This is a warning to Christians in all parts of the world and those in Nigeria. We have not forgotten what you did to our brethren in Zangon Kataf town and other parts of Nigeria. Use the heads of these five of your brethren to continue with your ungodly celebrations.”

The five Christians are then shot to death.

The executioner’s citing of Zangon-Kataf appears to refer to ethnic clashes in the area in Kaduna state in 1992 over a proposal to relocate a market away from land granted to the Hausa people, who are primarily Muslim. Clashes broke out between them and the indigenous, predominantly Christian Atyap people, resulting in 60 deaths in February 1992 and 400 more in May 1992, with Hausa youths killing many Christians of various tribes in retaliation.

On Christmas Eve ISWAP terrorists began an attack on Garkida, Adamawa state, that local residents assumed was launched by Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group from which ISWAP broke off in 2016. Government and local sources said the Nigerian army repelled the attack, but as it continued into the wee hours of Christmas Day, the assailants were said to have killed six Christians and kidnapped 11 others.

Screenshot of video released by Islamic State showing execution of Christians in northeast Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

Morning Star News received messages from area residents on Wednesday (Dec. 30) asserting that six Christians were killed in Friday’s (Dec. 25) attack on Garkida, and that the Christians martyred in the video were among the 11 kidnapped.

Moses Abarshi, a Christian leader in northern Nigeria, notified Morning Star News that a Christian had told him that his brother and four other Christians had been executed for their faith.

“Please let us keep the family in our thoughts and prayers in this trying time,” Abarshi said by text message. “May the blood of these martyrs keep speaking for the gospel. May the church not be frightened and discouraged, in Jesus name!”

In the attack on Garkida town, ISWAP burned down homes, looted shops and stores, set fire to a hospital and took food from homes, area Christians said.

On July 22 a video was released showing terrorists believed to be members of ISWAP executing five men, with one militant saying it was warning to “all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity.”

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 designated Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” Nigeria joined Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on the list.

In a more recent category of non-state actors, the State Department also designated ISWAP, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as “Entities of Particular Concern.”

On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.

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.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

Seven Christians Killed in Christmas Eve Attacks in Nigeria

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremist militants killed seven Christians in Christmas Eve attacks in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, according to area residents, while two people were reportedly killed in neighboring Adamawa state.

Residents of the villages of Pemi and Debro, near Chibok, Borno state said the insurgents were members of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, and that the militants burned a Church of the Brethren (EYN) building in Pemi. In addition, seven people were reportedly kidnapped, including a pastor.

Across the border in neighboring Adamawa state, residents of Garkida told Morning Star News that Boko Haram attacked at the same time on Dec. 24, but that Nigerian army forces repelled them. Adamawa Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, however, released a statement on Christmas Day saying two civilians had been killed in the attack, including a 5-year-old boy, before soldiers drove the rebels away.

In Borno state, the jihadists began their attacks on predominantly Christian Pemi and Debro at about 6 p.m., area residents said.

“Seven Christians were killed at Pemi, and the church building of EYN was completely burned by them,” area resident Awiya Lawan told Morning Star News by text message. “Houses, cars and stores were burned down. The Boko Haram gunmen carried out the attacks for three hours before soldiers arrived at the area at 9 p.m.”

Peter Solomon, another resident of the area, also said that heavily armed Boko Haram rebels, who seek to establish sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, killed seven Christians.

“The Boko Haram attackers destroyed the church building of EYN and looted foods from many houses before burning about 10 houses in Pemi, which is located about 20 kilometers [12 miles] away from Chibok town,” Solomon said

In Adamawa state, the attack by suspected Boko Haram militants forced Christians to halt Christmas preparations and flee into bushes to escape, area residents said.

“Garkida town in Adamawa state is under a massive attack,” area resident Joel Bahago said in a text message to Morning Star News. “Please pray for us, as this isn’t how we planned for Christmas, Lord.”

Another area resident, Rhoda Yadiwutuwa, said in a text message on Christmas Day that Nigeria’s armed forces had repelled the assailants but that most of the residents were still hiding in bushes and nearby hills.

“It is well with us people of Garkida, we shall hold our peace, because victory belongs to our God and Lord, Jesus Christ,” Yadiwutuwa said.

Markus Bulus wrote in a Christmas Day text that area resident were thankful.

“Whatever Boko Haram planned against us has failed,” Bulu said. “Whatever it is, we shall still celebrate Christmas. Jesus, we’re so grateful this day even with the bad experience we had last night. We have nothing to offer as our thanksgiving, but we offer our hearts in deep supplication to your majesty on this Christmas Day.”

Terror in Kaduna

In north-central Nigeria, a series of attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen across three counties of southern Kaduna state earlier this month killed 33 Christians, destroyed 18 homes and displaced more than 2,500 people, Christian leaders told Morning Star News.

On Dec. 17 in Zangon-Kataf County, the herdsmen killed at least 10 Christians in Goran Gan village and destroyed 18 homes, and on Dec. 21 they killed three others at Ungwan Jatau and Ungwan Gimba villages, area residents told Morning Star News in text messages.

Sule Tinat Bodam, general secretary of the Atyap Community Development Association and a Christian community leader in Zangon-Kataf, confirmed the attacks.

“On Dec. 17, the Gora Gan community was attacked by armed gunmen suspected to be Fulani militias on motorcycles,” Bodam said. “The attack left over seven people dead, and over 17 houses were burnt down. The Sheyin family was wiped out almost completely by the attackers.”

He identified those killed as Ayuba Sheyin, 69; his wife Jummai Sheyin, 55; their son Saviour Sheyin, 14; son Goodluck Sheyin, 11; daughter Patience Sheyin, 5; Peter Akau, 70; Joel Ishaya, 35; and Binta Musa Tauna, 85. In addition, 16-year-old Henry Jonathan was hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

“The Sheyin family lived just in front of the primary school where the military, meant to secure the village after previous attacks, are stationed,” Bodam said.

Luka Biniyat, spokesman for the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), added in a Dec. 21 press statement that three more corpses had been recovered, bringing the number of Christians killed in Gora Gan to at least 10.

SOKAPU executives visited a camp for Internally Displaced Persons in Zonkwa, Zangon-Kataf County, where 2,500 Christian women and children were taking refuge after raids by armed herdsmen, Biniyat said.

Also in Zangon-Kataf County on Dec. 19, herdsmen killed four Christians in four other villages: Ungwan Gaiya, Ungwan Gimba, Ungwan Makama and Apimbu, according to state Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs Commissioner Samuel Aruwan.

“The military confirmed that two houses were burned in the Apimbu attack,” Aruwan said.

In Chikun County, herdsmen on Tuesday (Dec. 22) killed seven Christians and wounded four in Gbaja village and killed two more Christians in Ungwan Gwaiva, area sources said.

In Kajuru County, herdsmen killed three Christians in Kujeni village on Tuesday (Dec. 22), sources said.

The Rev. Ali Buba Lamido, archbishop of Kaduna Province of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), issued a statement on Thursday (Dec. 24) expressing concern over kidnappings that have accompanied the killing.

“Kidnapping has become the order of the day as these kidnappers get into people’s houses and abduct them without any resistance or challenge from the security agents,” Lamido said. “Many people have been abducted, and a lot of millions of naira were paid as ransom. Those kidnapped were subjected to dehumanizing conditions and traumatizing experiences. Some family members of the those kidnapped were shot while trying to escape from the kidnappers.”

On Dec. 10 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement calling for further investigation into crimes against humanity in Nigeria.

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.

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.

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