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‘Bring back our 112 Chibok girls – now and alive!’ Demands for closure and disclosure 7 years on

Pictures of 82 girls freed in 2017; 112 are still un-accounted for
 

(World Watch Monitor) ‘I’m Chibok girl Dad. Bring Back Our Girls Now’ read the white letters on the man’s red T-shirt.

The same morning, 15 April seven years ago, he woke to hear his daughter had been abducted from her school dormitory at night. He’s not seen her since, has no idea if she is alive or dead. But amidst his anguish he pleads “Our people are being killed on weekly basis”.

This came on the 7th anniversary of the kidnap of 276 girls, even as global news headlined an attack on a humanitarian hub in the same state from which the schoolgirls disappeared into the Sambisa Forest on the night of April 14th 2014. 112 of them remain un-accounted for.

The dad pleaded ‘Even if our girls remain in the Forest, how has the government abandoned us? Why can’t it secure their parents and brothers? I appeal to [Borno] Governor Zulum…to bring peace to our land”. (There have been three attacks this week in the Borno town of Damasak, 200 miles north of Chibok, on the border with neighbouring Niger – this time by the Islamic State, West Africa Province (ISWAP), which has splintered away from Boko Haram.

Other figures from Chibok echoed his plea “If Nigeria does not rescue our Chibok girls, there’ll be no peace in Nigeria. Boko Haram is increasing in many ways. No amount of intimidation will stop us demanding your [the girls’] rights” said one into the camera. Asked what she would say to her daughter Sarah in case she might be watching, Mrs Samuel said ‘Keep hope alive; we wait for you’.

Sarah will soon turn 25, so was kidnapped at the age of 17. Mrs Samuel also apparently shocked her audience by saying she had not heard anything from the government since the release of 82 of the girls in May 2017.

During the Zoom event, the founder of Citizens’ Hub, Aisha Muhammad Yesufu also boldly challenged the Nigerian government:

“What is the crime of a Chibok girl? Is it that she’s a girl? Is it that she’s Nigerian? Is it that she’s poor?”

Event speakers all said they struggle to understand why recent mass school kidnaps (there have been at least three this year alone) have seen those children freed almost the very next day.

They point to initial denials and incredulity by the state and federal authorities; indeed the President at the time of the 2014 mass abduction, Goodluck Jonathan, eventually ordered an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the mass kidnap because his government denied the incident had even happened for the first two weeks. The inquiry, led by retired Army-Gen. Ibrahim Sabo submitted its report on 20 June, 2014 but it has never been published and nothing has been heard of it since, according to one of the speakers.

Hence the slogan for this week’s event: “Bring Back our Girls- now and alive! Disclosure and closure” – disclosure of the Sabo report and closure for the abducted girls, their parents and communities.

Attendees heard that twenty parents have now died before seeing their daughters – again, most of them from high blood pressure or other stress-related medical conditions.

Seven years ago, a report showed how the Chibok girls’ kidnap appeared to be part of the Islamist group’s strategic approach to destroy the Christian community in N. Nigeria, where in some states, Christians still form a significant minority.

Keynote speaker, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, who retired a year ago from his role as Catholic Archbishop of the capital Abuja, said that the failure of President Buhari to fulfil his promise to defeat Boko Haram ‘by December 2015’ showed ‘graduating incompetence’. He pointed out that the Nigerian army has claimed to have killed the group’s leader Shekau at least four times. He also said that Chibok had led to kidnapping becoming an industry in Nigeria. He also compared the fact that 42 people – teachers and boys – kidnapped in Niger state had been found and freed after ten days, on 27 Feb this year, while one lone Christian girl Leah Sharibu remains in captivity more than three years after abduction, together with UNICEF nurse Alice Loksha, who was kidnapped in October 2018.

Aid groups estimate that more than eight million people in the north-east are in urgent of humanitarian assistance as a result of the 10-year Islamist insurgency.

Church Confirms Release of Pastor Threatened with Execution

Pastor Bulus Yakura with EYN member Kwajaffa Balamusa (left) after the pastor’s release from Islamic extremist militants. (Morning Star News courtesy of Kwajaffa Balamusa)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Church leaders have confirmed reports that Islamic terrorists who threatened to execute a pastor they abducted in northeast Nigeria freed him on Wednesday (March 3).

The president of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or EYN), Joel S. Billi, told church leaders on Thursday (March 4) that he had spoken to Pastor Bulus Yakura (also transliterated as Bulus Yikura) after he was freed, according to a notice posted on Friday (March 5) on the website of the Church of the Brethren’s U.S. headquarters by Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media.

“Speaking to Yakura over the telephone today was heart-touching,” Billi said, adding that Pastor Yakura told him, “I am fine, thank you for your prayers and concern,” according to Musa.

Nigerian newspaper the Premium Times had reported that Pastor Yakura, an EYN pastor abducted from Pemi village near Chibok, Borno state in an Islamic terrorist attack on Christmas Eve, was freed after Christians met ransom demands.

Citing security sources, the newspaper reported that Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram freed Pastor Yakura on Wednesday evening (March 3). A Premium Times correspondent in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, reported sighting Pastor Yakura at about 6:15 p.m. as he was taken to the office of Nigeria’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Services (DSS).

The Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram, which in 2015 formally aligned with the Islamic State and changed its name to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), released a video on Feb. 25 in which the pastor said he would be executed by March 3 unless government and church officials met the kidnappers’ demands.

After watching the video in which the pastor had announced the deadline for his execution, his wife had fallen ill and his children refused to go to school, Musa reported.

An EYN church member, Kwajaffa Balamusa, also confirmed the release of Pastor Yakura in a text message to Morning Star News on Sunday (March 7), accompanied by a photo of him and the pastor after his release.

“Thank God, for our EYN pastor is alive,” Balamusa said.

The Premium Times reported that on Wednesday (March 3), when asked to speak about his freedom, Pastor Yakura kept repeating, “I thank God, I thank God.”

The Islamic State recognizes the ISWAP faction that broke away from Shekau in 2016 as its cell in the region, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and many Nigerians still refer to the Shekau-led faction of ISWAP by its original name, Boko Haram.

Efforts by the EYN and Pastor Yakura’s family resulted in his release, according to the newspaper.

Premium Times gathered from security sources that family members and the EYN church had been negotiating the release of the abducted pastor since last week,” the newspaper reported on Wednesday (March 3).

Prior to his release, Nigerian newspaper Sahara Reporters had reported that the Christian community in Borno state’s Chibok County had contributed money for ransom in order to secure the pastor’s release.

Pattern of Executions

In a video released on July 22, Islamic extremists thought to be members of ISWAP executed five Nigerian men in Borno state, with one executioner saying it was a warning to “all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity.”

On Jan. 20, 2020, Islamic terrorists executed the Rev. Lawan Andimi, district chairman of the EYN in Michika County, Adamawa state, also in northeast Nigeria.

A video released in January 2020 shows ISWAP terrorists executing Christian university student Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a member of the Church of Christ in Nations who was kidnapped on the Damaturu-Maiduguri Highway while returning to studies in Maiduguri, Borno state.

Nigeria was the country with the most Christians killed for their faith last year (November 2019-October 2020), at 3,530, up from 1,350 in 2019, according to Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List. In overall violence, Nigeria was second only to Pakistan, and it trailed only China in the number of churches attacked or closed, 270, according to the list.

Nigeria led the world in number of kidnapped Christians last year with 990, according to the WWL report. In the 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria broke into the top 10 for the first time, jumping to No. 9 from No. 12 the previous year.

The U.S. State Department on Dec. 7 added Nigeria to its list of Countries 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.”

 

70 Students, Four Teachers Abducted During Attack on Nigerian College, 2 Dead

(CBN  06-21-2021) A rescue operation is underway to locate more than 70 students and four teachers in Nigeria who were abducted by a group of armed militants on Thursday as violent attacks and kidnappings continue throughout the country. see video report below

The Guardian Nigeria reports that nearly 100 gunmen attacked the Federal Government College in Kebbi state, leading to the death of a police officer and a student.

Authorities say the gunmen who are seeking ransom payments were responsible for the attack, which is the third mass kidnapping over the past three weeks in northwest Nigeria. 

Usman Aliyu, a teacher at the school, said most of the abducted children were girls.  

“They killed one of the (police officers), broke through the gate and went straight to the students’ classes,” Aliyu told Reuters.

One local resident said frantic parents descended upon the school after the gunfire ceased, in an effort to search for their children. 

“When we got there we saw students crying, teachers crying, everyone is sympathizing with people,” said Atiku Aboki.

“Everyone was confused,” he added. “Then my brother called me (to say) that his two children have not been seen and (we) don’t know if they are among the kidnapped.”

Several Nigerian schools have been targets since December by armed insurgents threatening to harm their captives unless a ransom is paid.

More than 300 boys were taken from a Government Science secondary school on Dec. 11 where police engaged in a shootout with the assailants.

Then, hundreds of girls were kidnapped in February from the Government Secondary Jangebe School in Zamfara state after a large group of gunmen raided the school.

In March, eight members of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Kaduna were abducted at gunpoint. Kidnappers demanded a ransom of $131,000. 

And earlier this month, one student was killed and 10 people were abducted from the main campus of Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic in Zairia, Kaduna state.

International Christian Concern, a persecution watchdog, reports these large-scale kidnappings which were originally thought to have been carried out by loosely organized bandits. But recently, Kaduna state governor El Rufai informed the public that these ransoms were used to fund Boko Haram and their extremist agenda.

Please continue to pray that God’s protection will comfort those who are still missing and for His love to bring encouragement to their families.

Join us tonight on the Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call as Brother Andy leads prayer to intercede for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

Prayer Conference Call Details

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MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

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

 

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