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New Attacks against Christians in Nigeria

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Nigeria: Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have carried out fresh attacks against Christians in 3 villages. Suspected Islamists sprayed gunfire at worshipers and torched churches on Sunday. Though the death toll differs, some are claiming the gunmen killed no less the 51 people, mostly Christians in  Chibok and Biu local government areas of Borno State, Nigeria. This is also in the same area where the 276 female students of Government Girls Secondary School had been abducted.

Two weeks ago, the Boko Haram had sent written messages warning of further attacks against the communities.

In Kwada village, about 10 kilometres from Chibok, churches were burnt down when the gunmen  ambush on them during church service.

One of the residents told Vanguard, “the attackers killed and burnt houses after attacking worshippers in five churches in Kwada, before moving to Kautikari less than 8 kilometres to Chibok town, killing and burning down people’s houses and property. The security operatives were not on ground to defend us. In fact, those who ran into the bush were pursued and killed by the murderers.”

It is also being reported that the people living in Chibok town have fled their homes. And that others who hailed from the area could not hold back their tears upon hearing the news.

One witness recalled the terrorists came in pick up vehicles and motorcycles and opened fire on the people before setting houses, and other property ablaze. He said after killing one person, the terrorists carted away food and motorcycles before fleeing into the bush.

“The military and other security agencies should do more by not only deploying more personnel, but cooperating fully with members of the Local Vigilante Group in fighting terrorism and insurgency in this part of the state. They know the terrains of Sambisa Forest and can track insurgents in their hideouts. (vigilante groups are encouraged to help ward off the insurgents)

“The two should work as a team to end this Boko Haram insurgency that will clock five years by July 29, 2014”, said Sen. Mohammed Ali Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District

“The human mind cannot understand what is happening. There is no reason for what they are doing, but they continue to do it”, said Mgr. Doeme to Fr. Patrick. Fr. Patrick adds he managed to escape the attack of June 25, which hit a shopping center in Abuja, causing dozens of deaths: “I remember that on that day at that time I had an appointment in the mall’s square, where I usually park my car and where the bomb exploded. I thank God that the appointment was cancelled. Providence saved me”,  the priest told Fides.

 

 

NIGERIA: Islamists Burn And Destroy Christian Village, 600 Families Displaced

Displaced Christian Children on Christmas Day 2013

Displaced Christian Children on Christmas Day 2013 (Click to enlarge)

By VOP Foreign correspondent in Nigeria.

Insight report reveals up to 700 homes were burned to the ground in attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, displacing entire Christian community after 11 attacks.

History of the Church in Gavva-West of Gwoza

Gavva Village is located towards the Mandara Mountains in Gwoza local Government of Borno State, Nigeria. The village was richly blessed with natural resources, fertile soil and over 7,000 indigenous Christians. They had the highest number of Pastors, trained over 400 evangelists in many fields and hosted a camp for empowering Christian Women and children. They became predominantly Christian, because fifty three years ago it was the settlement base of a Missionary. The Missionary planted a church and began to spread the Gospel. The people accepted Christ and Christianity spread dynamically. The village developed and expanded into three, they named the villages Gavva 1, 2 and 3 with thousands of converts giving their life to Christ.

When they continued to multiply and the village population expanded, land became scarce for farming. A large number of the believers went to the western part of Gwoza and searched for farmland. When they found an area fertile for both evangelism and agriculture, they settled and named the village GAVVA-WEST. God blessed them and made them fruitful. They began preaching the Gospel converting indigenous unbelievers to Christianity from predominantly Muslim and Pagan areas.

The Christians continued to buy lands, build churches, rear animals and grow spiritually and materially. They also became traditional leaders in governing the village. It was a large village comprising of seven leaders (Bulamas) namely: Bulamas Bitrus, Bulama Wasa, Bulama Amos, Bulnama Musa, Bulama Peter, Bulnama Jatau and Bulnama Ibrahim Zigila.

Not wanting to do the hard work of farming the land, unbelievers sold their properties to Christians. The Christians became empowered with over 600 members and known as a Christian community. They’re main places of worship were the Church of Brethren (EYN), Redeemed Church of God and Deeper Life Bible churches. The prosperity of the Christian community in Gavva-West flourished through farming. Seeing how they had advanced, the Muslim communities in Valengede, Yamtake, Bla Wazin, Bita and Bla Abba became envious of them.

On location, Voice of the Persecuted’s correspondent spoke with Haruna Yakubu (42) married with seven children and a resident of Gavva-West. He stated that there were a total of eleven attacks on the village, the last so devastating it led to the evacuation of the entire community. The Muslims mounting resentment of the area owned and established by Christians, drove them to seek out the Boko Haram to attack and eliminate the Christians. When the villagers were informed of the plans, the leaders reported the matter to the Gwoza Emir. They were told to form a vigilante group to protect their villages, because the insurgence could not be predicted.

Having fully understood the conspiracy to attack the village, they formed a group of youths numbering about 24. Armed with locally made guns and daggers, they called the group to protect the community at every entrance of the village. VOP’s correspondent interviewed one youth called Joshua Haruna (28) married with one child, also a resident and member of the vigilante group. He narrated that they successfully stopped the insurgents from attacking their villages 10 times. On the day of the 11th attack, the insurgents came in mass of over 200 and finally overpowered them. Many were killed, some burned alive, and several people left with bullet wounds. They then looted all the properties and set the village ablaze.

Rev, Yakubu Dzari, Resident Pastor (EYN LCC GAVVA-WEST)

Rev, Yakubu Dzari, Resident Pastor (EYN LCC GAVVA-WEST)

The Perpetual Attacks

Pastor (Rev. Yakubu Dzari) narrowly escaped death after insurgents attacked his head with a machete and dagger. He shared with our reporter his horrible experience. After tying his hands from behind, he explained how God lifted the knife from his throat when they were ready to slay him. He stated,  “It was God that saved me, or else I would have been dead by now!”

The First Attack on December 2, 2012, insurgents came around 11pm. They entered the village and shot a villager, Bulama Musa, beat up another named Bulanma Yakubu, then captured the Pastor. When they began to attack him, he put up a struggle to save his life and was able to overpower them, injuring one. The attackers took several motorcycles and fled.

In the beginning of January 2013, seven insurgents came again around 9pm, but were chased away by 16 of the selected vigilantes protecting the village. The insurgents could not penetrate the village and quickly left dropping their shoes and caps.

On January 9, 2013 about nine insurgents came at 11pm. They were unable to succeed because of the dynamic efforts of the vigilant youths. They were seen and chased away firing guns. Seven bullet shells and four live ammunitions were later found dropped by the terrorists.

On Febuary 9, 2013, four insurgents four insurgents in disguise came through the back entrance of the village. Again they were noticed and chased off.

On March 9, 2013 in mass, they returned to the village in Hilux pick up vehicles while the youths were playing football in the field. They surrounded the whole village stationing insurgents at all locations. When the youths observed the event taking place, they abandoned their game and went to Baba Musa, a hunter with a license to keep guns. They exchanged fire with the insurgents, but were overwhelmed.

Churches were burnt and they killed a man, Yakubu (76) who was mentally ill and could not run. They also killed Naomi John (54) who was trying to climb a wall for safety. They murdered Maryamu Amthe (72) and shot Bitrus (19) as he was running away. Others were left with serious gunshot wounds, but were still alive. After successfully overtaking the village, they looted the property and took away 17 motorcycles, other vehicles, livestock and many bags of food. They loaded the items into vehicles and they took as captives Bulus Waviga (76), Chabala Musa (35) and Barka Musa (35), but they were later released.

Gavva-West Christian refugee children

Gavva-West Christian refugee children

On March 12, 2013, four rebels came around 2pm. They fired gunshots in the air, ransacked and looted a shop, then fled.

On April 27, 2013, they came about 9pm numbering seven on motorcycles. They tried to take a golf cart which had no battery. In the process they burnt the car and a nearby home, injuring Haruna Musa (35), Musa (61) who are still in the hospital at the time of this report.

The insurgents struck again on May 27, 2013, the 9th attack. They arrived at 12pm numbering 21 on foot, apparently leaving their transport far off. As usual, the youths foresaw their coming. Noticed by one in the group, Ali Kaduna refused their call when they shouted to him and they were eventually chased away.

Since the primary purpose of the insurgents was to remove the Christians from the village,  they returned on August 30, 2013, the 10th attack. At about 7pm, six insurgents started randomly shooting at the people. The vigilante youths blew a traditional horn to alarm them, and many escaped without being killed.

Finally, The insurgents summoned all extremists from various locations and vowed with Allah to angrily eradicate the Christians from village. According to 6 victims who spoke to our correspondent, they revealed over 100 insurgents surrounded and attacked them on September 30, 2013 around 9pm.  This was the 11th and final attack, this time forcing the villagers to flee and evacuate the area to save themselves.

They described the attack as pure evil and that Christians were horribly burned alive. They began shooting with intentions of killing all males in the village. They first killed Shuwa Yakubu (28) and bludgeoned his mother’s head to death, despite desperate pleas to stop. They also murdered Simon Ibrahim (25), Simon Kigho (60), and Markus Ngamtuka (70). They then captured Bitrus (24) and Yahaya Bitrus (26). The two were tied up and mercilessly thrown into the fire of their burning homes. Afterwards, they ransacked the entire village and gathered all valuables in a field near the church. Afterwards, they torched most of the Christian homes. Over 700 houses were looted, burnt and destroyed that day.

Through all the attacks, the Christians still remained faithful and kept trust in the Lord.

Scattered as Refugees, but joyously celebrate Christmas  

In interviews with the displaced people of Gavva-West, our reporter found the majority slept in the open bush and went without food for days at a time. Many of the injured have died due to lack of treatment. Their children die of malnutrition and the women were scattered throughout different refugees camps. There have been serious outbreaks of illness and disease that have afflicted at least one hundred of them. It’s tragic they record casualties almost daily.

Others have fled to Madagali in Adamawa State. Some crossed over to Cameroon Republic to treat their wounded bodies, because the Hospital and medical facilities had been bombed by the insurgents. Many have lost their limbs, yet they celebrated Christmas as if nothing had happened to them. Witnessed by our correspondent who spent Christmas with them, they were dancing, singing and praising God.

Click photos to enlarge

Among the disturbing situations was the total absence of privacy and social amenities. With all these suffering, the government of Borno State in Nigeria would not take care of the displaced people. Why?  They are Christians. The worse aspect is the claims of government officials denying the existence of the refugees camps within and outside the country. We wonder, what has happened to humanity?

With visible gash marks still on his head, it was interesting listening to Rev. Yakubu Dzavi preach to the displaced Christians on Christmas. He spoke about the salvation of mankind through Christ. He told them about Christ being born in manger to signify freedom from total destruction of the world. And he preached as if all the atrocities that had been inflicted on the them meant nothing to the faithful believer whose target is heaven.

Articles/photos may be reprinted with trackback/credit to VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED.

Nigeria: Impact of Civilian JTF and State of Emergency for the Christian Community

nigerian Bibleby VOP Foreign Correspondent, Nigeria

Interview with a Maiduguri Indigenous Bishop of Borno State of NIGERIA

The emergence of the Civilian Joint Tax Force (JTF) and their dynamic contribution to quench Boko Haram activities in Borno State of Northern Nigeria, has begun to generate many questions of the controversial horrors allegedly committed by it’s so-called members addressed in an open letter to JTF by the Gwoza Christian community. They are also demanding answers to the whereabouts of their illegally detained Christian men. Our Foreign correspondent in Nigeria spoke to a Maiduguri Indigenous Bishop on the general assessment of the State of Emergency, Civilian & Military JTF and the general contribution of all the groups negatively and positively.

Sir, what is your general assessment of the activities of both Military and Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri?

Whether civilian or Military, JTF has done well and greatly contributed to the Christian community both positively and negatively. To me, I looked at Civilian JTF as child of necessity, because it was a dynamic intervention of God Almighty to the prayers of his people day and night. When God saw the tears of the widows, orphans and innocent Christians that were massacred and slaughtered in northern Nigeria; He mercifully had compassion on us to originate a group called the Civilian JTF to fight the insurgency to the last point.

It is very clear that, God responded to the prayers of believers by bringing back peace to Maiduguri through the invention of the Civilian JTF. Everything went on like a play, and to the Glory of God, everybody could sleep well. The Boko Haram no longer active as before, because the powers, strategies and bombing was properly checked.

Before we come back to JTF issue, from your own point of view, do you really believe that Boko Haram was originally formed because western education is taboo?

I will never believe that. Since from the inception of the group, it was very plain that their mission is to Islamized northern Nigeria. Look at the original aim of why Boko Haram was developed. People are deceived that Boko Haram simply means western Education is forbidden, but that was not their original interpretation. What they really meant is that Western Education and Economic Value is forbidden. A taboo in a sense that, it is wrong for a woman to sit in the midst of men. She is not supposed to work in public or serve as a civil servant. It is equally taboo for Christians to own a home that is more beautiful and expensive than that of a Muslim, ride in an expensive car, or establish a successful business. It is taboo for Christian children to go to university and study a proper course. As a Christian, it is taboo to head an organization in either the private or public sector, or to practice your constitutional right of worship. It is the highest taboo is to either contest for governor, commissioner, or president because you’re not qualified due to the membership of Christianity.

When the excesses of the Islamism became too much, they found it very difficult to control the Christians with the mischievous agenda of Islamizing the region. They formed a group called Boko Haram and started killing Christians, burning their churches and worship centers, patronizing their business places, setting their houses ablaze and imposing fear on the Christian community allowing them to regionalize the nation for Islam. When the Federal government discovered their agenda and grew tired of the operation, they decided to place the three states under a State of Emergency.  This  gave the upper hand to Military JTF which was deployed to Maiduguri.

Sir, you were saying earlier that, JTF has help positively and negatively what do you mean by saying that? Is the Military Joint Tax Force able to solve the problem?

To summarize the points, the Military JTF has seriously contributed in both positive and negative in their contribution. They help the Christian community is so many ways, by guarding the churches to prevent the insurgents attacks. They have successfully stopped the insurgents from bombing churches like before, they even completely put the Boko Haram on hold in regard to unnecessary killings.  We really thank them for doing a good job.

However, the same Military JTF invokes more harm than good, by negatively executing their job with excessiveness. When the Military came to Borno State to circumnavigate the activities of the insurgents, they came in classes of military personnel that were indirectly supporting the Boko Haram. There were informers among the group, which  destabilized the effort and tactics of the Nigerian Army. Even when they want to strike a target, they always missed them because of the multitude of informants that leak the operation to the insurgents.

When the Military discovered the underground plans, they become frustrated and started operating very harshly in a volatile manner towards the community, including Christians. They were so rude that whosoever crossed their path, they would deal with the person without any investigation or rule of engagement. Whether innocent or guilty, they go to an extent that killing people seems to be nothing to them at any moment.

Sir, how sure are you that; what they’re doing is excessive? Did they assault any Christians or kill anybody you know as innocent?

Yes, there was a time when the former Chairman Pentecostals Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN),  Rev. Maidoki, was driving on the highway and they came up behind him at a high rate of speed with the siren on. Before the Reverend notice their appearance and give them space, they confused the man of God and threw him in the middle of the street and started smashing the car’s windshield. They then beat him like a criminal who had committed atrocities. They kept on beating him without asking any questions or investigating his status. Was that not excessive?

In another similar situation, in Maiduguri, they shot a Rev. Dr. Olu Obana of (Compassion Church) in the leg without any specific reason. The pastor was driving down the road observing traffic rules, when military vans came towards him firing their guns and striking him in the leg. Was that not in excess?

Apart from the aspect of molesting the people, the military men have equally contributed to immorality in the state. They deceive our Christian ladies who are weak in faith and commit adultery with them in their camp stations, which was meant to guard for protection. All this is why I said, it was excessive, which I view as a negative contribution of the Military JTF on the Christian community.

What about Civilian JTF? Sir, was there also any negative impact, or did they only contributed to the Christian community positively?

As I earlier said, Civilian JTF was developed out of necessity, for now; there was no negative impact on their part. Their activities have been quite commendable. They have done well in bringing the crisis to almost an end. There were no ill motives behind their operations. They don’t arrest people without proper investigation, even after they found a member of Boko Haram that was guilty. They apprehended him and brought him and the case to military men for final judgement in their presence, so that he would not be released. On the Maiduguri Metropolitan JTF, I don’t think there was any wrongdoing from them.

north nigeriaWhat we may consider as negative is another branch of JTF that emerges from the Gwoza local government. Those individuals were mostly butchers in Maiduguri abattoirs, when the fighting became serious in Maiduguri. They formed a so-called Civilian JTF with an agenda that was quite different from the original JTF in Maiduguri. Some among their activities were arresting Christians on baseless allegations and without reason. They tortured them, burned their homes and framed them to fulfilled their own political interests. There are  many of these cases and with common sense, tell you that  something is not right.

I learned that, they go to the residence of Christians looking for weapons as evidence of implicating them as Boko Haram members. When their searches are unsuccessful, they set them up by tearing their mattresses and slip a gun inside. They shout out they have found evidence and obtained a gun in the Christian’s home. That is how they set up the Christians and implicated them for arrest. Apart from that, I don’t think the real Civilian JTF has done any wrong.

Why are these groups of fake Civilian JTF not being arrested, is government aware of this development?

To be candid, I can’t tell, but one thing I believe is that the Boko Haram is operating in different levels of capacity. It is possible they may be aware. Do you know that in that same local government called Gwoza in Kirawa ward, the Boko Haram disguised themselves as Civilian JTF to assemble guns in coffins? They packaged it well as if they are taking a body to the graveyard. They made it very realistic with women crying and citing prayers. Unfortunately, they cross the border to Cameroon Republic. When an intelligent officer studied one of these scenes, he realized it was a setup. Muslims don’t bury their dead in coffins, it’s against Islamic belief. They were then apprehended. All this emerged as a result of operations of those imposing as Civilian JTF.

Do you think the government is helping matters of the Christian community in these situations?

I have not heard or known of any day or moment that the government is helping in matters of the Christian community. I may be wrong, but the government has never been in support of Christians. Let me clearly explain so that you can understand. Borno State government deliberately refused to allow Christians to teach Christian Religious classes in government schools primary and even some advance secondary schools. What do they want our children to become?

Secondly, the government have all the Muslim Imams in the State on their payroll from the resources that came as statutory allocation. But why have they denied the Pastors in Borno State, were they not religious leaders too? Thirdly, the government doesn’t promote Christians Civil servants in the state, even if they are due for promotion. They don’t allocate offices to them, and they leave them in disuse. How can you prove that the government is helping matters in these situations? Is it the extension of an advanced agenda to fish out Christians in government offices so that they can molest them at any level? As far as I’m concerned, the government is not a helping matters for the Christian community.

Please keep the Christians in Nigeria in your prayers. Our prayers are powerful.

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