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Dozens of Christians killed and kidnapped in Nigeria

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Gunmen suspected to be local Fulani Muslims killed several Christians as they made their way home from church services in Jos, Nigeria on Sunday (May 26) following the murder of another area Christian last week, sources said.

Area Christian Peter Sarki informed Morning Star News by text message that local Muslims east of Jos, Plateau state, killed seven Christians on Sunday after unidentified Muslims killed Moses Victor, a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), in the Rikkos area of Jos on May 20.

Police put the number of people killed in the areas on Sunday (May 26) at five and said 12 houses were burned. Sarki said more than 12 houses were burned, and that 12 additional Christians were wounded in the attacks. He said the violence took place in the Jos areas of Rikkos, Angwan Rukuba, Tina Junction, Cele Bridge, Dutse Uku, and Yan Trailer.

Sarki identified two of the Christians killed as they made their way home from ECWA church services on Sunday morning as Enoch Monday and Istifanus Ismailaj. Michael Anthony Pam of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Nasarawa Gwong, and four others yet to be identified were also killed, he said.

Michael Anthony Pam, killed in attacks in Jos, Nigeria on Sunday, May 26, 2019.(Morning Star News courtesy of diocese)

“Pam was the president of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria of his parish,” Sarki told Morning Star News.

Tyopev Matthias Terna, spokesman for the Plateau State Command, said in a press statement that the body of Enoch Monday was found on Sunday between Dutse Uku and Angwan Damisa in Jos North Local Government Area, and that units were dispatched to the area to restore calm.

As gunfire echoed and smoke from burning homes billowed in the distance, a Morning Star News correspondent and his family were temporarily stranded at their church building near the area on Sunday morning after receiving word from local people that Cele Bridge, Tina Junction, Rikkos, Dutse Uku, Yan Trailer and Angwan Rukuba were under attack. Other motorists who had attempted to pass through the areas were forced back due to the attacks.

The attacks may have led to more fatalities. The head of a northern Nigeria pastors’ fellowship known as the Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA), the Rev. Luke Shehu, said in a press statement that “about 30” Christians were killed and 20 houses burned.

Pastor Shehu, who oversees a congregation in Jos, said that ethnic Fulani Muslim militia were responsible for the attacks, which he said were part of a planned “Fulanisation and Islamization” of Nigeria.

“Despite the intervention of security operatives, in less than 12 hours about 30 Christians were killed and over 20 houses where burnt or destroyed by Muslim militia, some in military uniforms from around Tina junction, Cele bridge, Dutse Uku and Nasarawa areas, all bordering Muslim communities in Jos North,” Pastor Shehu said. “These targeted attacks on innocent Christians are unacceptable, particularly with confirmed arrests of over 30 Christian women fruit and food vendors by soldiers around Tina junction in Jos after the attack today, 27th May 2019.”

A purported executive order by President Muhammadu Buhari revoking all firearms licenses beginning June 1 is largely seen as a ploy to keep Christians and minority tribes unarmed in the face of the heavily armed “Fulani militias and terrorists,” he said.

In the Riyom LGA of Plateau state about an hour south of Jos by car, gunmen believed to be Fulani militants reportedly killed six members of one family on Monday (May 27) at 7 p.m. Two children, their parents and grandparents of the Lo-Gwong Du family were killed, according to local press reports.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Four Children, Grandmother among 17 Christians Slain in Attack by Muslim Herdsmen in Nigeria

 

Muslim Fulani herdsmen have become heavily armed in recent years. (File photo)

(Morning Star News) – Armed Fulani herdsmen accompanied by militants in Nigerian army uniforms killed 17 Christians in their homes in the heart of Jos, north-central Nigeria, on Thursday (Sept. 27), including four children, area sources said.

At about 7:30 p.m. in an area known as Rukuba Road, the assailants broke into one home shooting randomly and killed 14 members of one family, including 15-year-old Ishaya Kogi, 17-year-old Jonathan Kogi, Cynthia Kogi, 22, and Lucky Kogi, 25, their uncle told Morning Star News.

Two of Lucky Kogi’s children, 3-year-old Majesty Lucky and Blessing Lucky, 14, were also killed in the assault, he said.

“When the Fulani herdsmen came, they shot into the house randomly, breaking and forcing their way into rooms shooting defenseless women and children and anyone in sight,” the mournful Rogu Audu, who lost his mother and two of his own children in the attack, told Morning Star News.

The 50-year-old member of ECWA church, Blue Zinc, Rukuba Road, Jos, said his mother, Kande Audu, 75, was killed in the assault, along with two of his children – Ruth Rogu, 18, and Dorcas Rugu, 20. The two had gone to their grandparents’ house to take them dinner, he said.

The attack took place close to the Nigerian army military cantonment (camp), Rukuba Barracks, in Jos. Surviving family members told Morning Star News that the Fulani herdsmen, armed with both firearms and machetes, were accompanied by Nigerian army soldiers.

“The Fulani herdsmen came from the Wild Life Park, which shares a border with our community,” Audu said. “The park is located in the southern flank of Rukuba Road and has rocky hills, which provided the attackers with cover to enable them to invade our community.”

The four children of one family slain were those of Kogi Audu, 47, also killed. She was the wife of Rogu Audu’s brother. Her fifth child, Blessing Kogi, 22, was injured in the slaughter and was receiving treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos, he said.

Two other female relatives, Azumi Gado, 20, and Ladi Rigi, 22, were on a visit to the house at the time of the attack and killed, Audu said.

Rogu Audu also told Morning Star News that armed Fulani herdsmen attacked the home of his uncle, 65-year-old Sunday Moru, killing Moru’s granddaughter, Blessing Sunday, 18, and her fiancé, 23-year-old Monday. The couple was visiting him.

All those killed were members of the local Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) congregation, he said.

Area resident Daniel Kadiya, 60, told Morning Star News that the herdsmen also attacked his son’s house, where three of his grandchildren were struck with machetes. Wounded were Redzie Yakubu, 14, Patience Yakubu, 8, and Philip Yakubu, 5, he said.

“They had machete cuts and are currently receiving treatment at the Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos,” Kadiya told Morning Star News. “Redzie was cut on her head, Patience was cut on her right hand, while Philip was cut on the face and hands.”

His son and daughter-in-law were not at home at the time of the attack.

Rogu Audu said that the armed Fulani herdsmen on the same day killed three other ECWA members in the area, members of the Yoruba ethnic group, but their names were not readily available as residents said relatives had moved their property out of their house the following afternoon.

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Attacks by Fulani militant herdsmen have increased in the past three years, according to Jubilee Campaign.

“Since the beginning of 2018, the violence is again spiking with reported deaths attributed to Fulani militant herdsmen climbing to at least 1,860 people, with an additional 300 plus victims claimed by Boko Haram,” Jubilee reported earlier this year. “Again, most of these victims are Christians from small ethnic minority communities in the northeastern states.”

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Please continue to pray for our Nigerian brothers and sisters facing rising ongoing persecution.

Nigeria: calm returns to Jos after eruption of violence that threatened the nation

Jos is seen almost as a miniature Nigeria, comprising almost all ethnic groups, but actually dominated by three predominantly Christian tribes, with the headquarters of many Nigerian Churches in Jos. (World Watch Monitor)

(World Watch Monitor) A sense of normality has returned to the city of Jos, in Nigeria’s central Plateau State, after an eruption of inter-religious violence claimed at least three lives on 14 September.

One of them was Jerry Binkur, a final-year student at the University of Jos, who was a member of COCIN Church.

Several others were injured in attacks by a mob. One of them died from his wounds in the hospital, but his name is yet to be confirmed.

Professor Timothy O. Oyetunde, Dean of the School of Postgraduate Studies, was another of those attacked, at about 6.30pm.

According to his statement, the Christian professor was about to leave the university, when suddenly some Muslim youths armed with machetes, daggers, and other weapons surrounded his car. They first shattered the windscreen using large stones. Someone in the passenger seat, not yet identified, was stabbed in the chest, while Professor Ema Ema, sitting directly behind Professor Oyetunde, was stabbed in the head. Professor Oyetunde escaped with minor injuries, narrowly avoiding a machete which instead shattered the window glass. His car was later set ablaze.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been killed in ethnic and religious clashes in Plateau in recent years.

This week a dusk-to-dawn curfew, imposed by the governor last Thursday (14 September), has been relaxed to 10pm to 6am. Still, heavily armed soldiers and police remain on patrol at flashpoints such as Terminus Roundabout (in the city centre), ‎Kataka Market (which acts as a boundary between Muslim and Christian communities), Chobe Junction (a settlement dominated by Christians from the ethnic Igbo people) and Bauchi Road (dominated by Hausa Muslims).

On Sunday (17 September) security was beefed up in churches for fear of attacks. At Living Faith Church, on Recard Road, heavily armed soldiers, police and members of the Nigeria Civil Defence were deployed to prevent violence.

At Faithway Bible Church in the neighbouring city of Bukuru, the congregation prayed for total restoration of peace in Plateau State and across Nigeria. Pastor Theophilus Akaniro‎, who led the prayers, also prayed for Nigeria’s upcoming Independence Day on 1 October.

But in general there was low turnout in local churches last Sunday, perhaps for fear of attacks.

This week, across the city, shops have re-opened, life has resumed, and traffic has returned to the busy Ahmadu Bello Way. ‎Shop owners have expressed relief that normality has been restored.

What triggered the violence?

Thursday’s violence in Jos was triggered by the activism of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a predominantly Igbo group in southeast Nigeria, responsible for killing members of the Muslim Hausa community in the south in pursuit of its agenda.

The ‘Biafran War’ (1967-70) was fought to stop the south-east of Nigeria breaking away, soon after Nigeria’s independence from the British. Now it seems that this cause has re-ignited in the past few years.

IPOB militants and their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, think the Igbos have been marginalised by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. They have repeatedly requested to break away from Nigeria, which the federal government has vehemently resisted.

Last week, the federal government deployed the Nigerian Army (Operation Python Dance) to counter IPOB protests, which had turned violent.

This deployment snowballed into violent confrontation between IPOB militants and the Army, leading to the death of many IPOB members.

This further led to IPOB members attacking the Hausa/Fulani Muslims living in the south-east of Nigeria (Port Harcourt and Umuahia States, in particular) because the IPOB consider Hausa Muslims to be President Buhari’s kinsmen.

Some Hausa Muslims were killed in this violence. This has then led to reprisal attacks across northern states, and in Plateau. (One youth movement, Arewa Youth, in northern Nigeria had in June reiterated its wish for Igbos to be expelled from northern states, giving a three-month deadline, 1 October.)

Why Plateau State matters

Nigeria, the most populous African country, is divided along ethnic and religious lines. The central state of Plateau is located on the fault line between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south. Some analysts think the Jos attack has the potential to upset the relative calm that has recently prevailed in Plateau, with potential consequences reaching far beyond.

Jos is seen almost as a miniature Nigeria, comprising almost all ethnic groups, but actually dominated by three predominantly Christian tribes (with the headquarters of many Nigerian Churches in Jos); a disruption to the peace in Jos could in turn affect the entire nation, and especially the Christian community in Nigeria.

Before the latest Jos violence, northern youths had previously issued other notices, demanding that all Igbos be kicked out of the northern states. They said that since the Igbos want their own country, they would force them to leave the north.

Some even suspect that that the reprisal attack in Jos against the Igbos was actually orchestrated from the far north because Nigerians would normally expect such attacks to take place in the predominantly Muslim northern cities like Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara, but not in Jos.

It also shows that the recent peace in Plateau is still a very fragile one, and one that could collapse with a little provocation. The massacre of about 20 Christians by Fulani herdsmen, on 7 September, is an illustration.

Widespread condemnation

The violence was unanimously condemned by Christian and Muslim leaders.

“The peace of the State is the peace of the Church and society,” wrote Rev Soja Bewarang, chairman of the Plateau chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in a statement. “Let us all wise up and work collectively to frustrate the designs of criminals in our midst. Information on social media must be verified with security agencies and nobody should take the law into their hands; enough of this madness.”

CAN also called on Igbos in Plateau to remain calm, assuring them that nobody had the right to ask them to leave the state – as some Muslim youths had suggested.

Meanwhile, the Plateau State chapter of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) appealed to members of the Muslim community and the general public to shun acts capable of disrupting the hard-earned peace in the state.

“JNI finds it necessary and of utmost importance to remind us that we in Plateau State had just in the last few years emerged from a decade-long ethno-religious conflict, which left us with unbearable socio-economic and political consequences,” read a statement signed by Sani Mudi, Director of Publicity of the JNI in Plateau.

It continued: “The sad saga of disruption of peace and lawlessness in some parts of the country is not worth our response, except in the exhibition of [a] mature and civil way, trusting that appropriate authorities are capable of responding as the situation warrants. We should therefore cherish our peaceful co-existence and do all within our power to sustain it, regardless of the provocation, as peace is priceless.”

The governor of Plateau, Simon Lalong, last Thursday met with community and religious leaders, and reaffirmed his determination to ensure security for all.

“I want to tell all citizens that their security and welfare as the primary concern of government is assured by the Rescue Administration. I am therefore enjoining all citizens to go about their business with the assurance that their safety is guaranteed,” he said.

Muslim Who Attacked Ministry Building in Nigeria Attempts to Seize Property

Partially demolished building of Breadwinners International Christian Centre in Bassa, Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

Partially demolished building of Breadwinners International Christian Centre in Bassa, Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Muslim in central Nigeria who destroyed part of a ministry facility, upsetting students inside, has filed suit to seize the property, a ministry leader said.

Facing a charge of criminal trespass for the partial demolition of the facility in September, Mohammed Uduans has filed a civil suit against Segun Towobola, pastor and president of Breadwinners International Christian Centre in the Kissayip area of Bassa, 14 miles north of Jos in Plateau state, claiming ownership of the property.

“If this Muslim succeeds in achieving his plan to take over our church property, we’ll adversely be affected, as our evangelism outreach here would be terminated, and our discipleship and vocational training program would end,” Pastor Towobola told Morning Star News.

Uduans became upset after learning two years ago that the ministry was holding worship meetings at the facility near his home, Pastor Towobola said. Uduans was further incensed to learn of the ministry’s educational and vocational classes for orphans and the poor in the area, and he began laying claim to the property, culminating on Sept. 18 when he led a group of Muslims to destroy part of the ministry’s building, the pastor said.

“My wife, kids, and other students were holding classes on the premises when Mohammed and his group carried out the destruction on our property,” he said. “I immediately rushed to the church to see them carrying out the destruction. I had to call in the police, who arrested him and his group.”

Police charged Uduans with criminal trespass on the church’s property, the pastor said.

“My wife and children were harassed and tormented when I arrived at the property,” he said. “They were crying as the destruction was going on. So I had no choice but to call the police, who arrested him. The case is currently with the Grade 1 Area Court, here in Bassa town.”

Pastor Towobola said Uduans has openly boasted that he would take possession of the property by force through his government connections and wealth.

“Mohammed Uduans since his arrest and detention by the police, and after being released by the police, has boasted that he has relations in the government and the money to take possession of our property, as he said he would never allow a church near his house,” he said.

Uduans declined to comment to Morning Star News, saying only, “I cannot talk with you as the case is in the court.”

Pastor Towobola said the church bought the property from a military officer in the Nigerian Army two years ago, and that the officer was the owner of the property for seven years before selling.

The church paid 500,000 naira (US$2,485) for the property, which already had a building on it, and subsequently redesigned it to provide a worship hall and classrooms for teaching vocational skills and discipling orphans and children of the poor in the community, he said.

“We have all the necessary documents for this land, and we have presented them before the court,” the pastor said. “We have been on the property now for two years, yet our Muslim neighbor has been troubling us.”

Pastor Towobola on Nov. 26 received a summons from the Area Court, Jebbu-Bassa, case file number CU/20/15, requesting he appear in court as a defendant in the civil suit by Uduans to take possession of the church property. The court on Nov. 30 announced that a hearing was set for Dec. 17.

Pastor Towobola asked that Christians pray for his ministry. In addition to church planting and discipleship, the ministry also runs Living Waters Christian Publishing, which has published many Christian writers.

Breaking: Bomb Blast in Nigeria – News source calls a Boko Haram/ISIS connection a Marriage from Hell

(Voice of the Persecuted)

(CNN)For sheer cruelty, they are well matched. They also share an apocalyptic “end-of-days” vision. Now there are signs that Boko Haram — the most feared group in West Africa — may be edging toward a formal pledge of allegiance to the self-declared Caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Watch Video}

For some time now, we have shown the link between Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al-shabob, and other extremists groups.  A year ago we warned of the ‘super highway of terror’ that travels from the Middle East to the coasts of Africa.  The MSM is finally connecting the dots, as the stench of death and destruction goes ever deeper in the region.  As we review our past reports, you have to ask what took Western leaders and the press so long to figure this out, or to finally decide to share it with us? Though some are reporting it as happening overnight, when you take a look back, you’ll find it’s been festering and spreading like a cancer for some time. With reports coming in last year from the field, we feared with others the risks of genocide as the world remained basically silent.

From our report dated April 26, 2014:    The Stench of Death, Abomination & Devastation Coming From The Middle East & Africa

There is a terrible highway being built by evil factions that have one agenda.  Though they[terrorists] are a mixed people, they have one goal in mind, and that is to kill everyone and everything that is different from them.  If you don’t believe in their brand of god, than you will die.  They don’t care about life, they have no regard for it.  While talking with a Christian brother from this region, I have come to understand that there are nearly 100 different sects[divisions] of people who follow Islam.  And none of them seem to know which or who will go into ‘paradise’ with their God.  So they are all bent on killing seeing this as the sure way to guarantee their entry into paradise.  To die in battle fighting in the name of Allah.

So as the media and the West fiddles, so to speak, the middle east and Africa are on fire.  In Syria there has been a battle cry raised, a cry that commands all to come and fight.  This is not war in the conventional sense, this is not the Syrian people raising up to topple an evil dictator.  This is a Holy War, a jihad commanded by a Holy Book. With an end outcome of causing chaos, while ridding the world of non-believers so that their Mahdi/savior can appear.

Look at what has happened in the short span of a year.  Over 2 million are now displaced, over 200,000 have been killed. Refugee camps overflowing and people starving or dying from disease.  Attack after attack has been witnessed in village after village by the Boko Haram’s murderous rampage.  We have watched whole Christian communities and churches looted and destroyed, many burned to the ground. Aid is not nearly enough, and we’ve reported that rebels have infiltrated refugee camps hiding among the people. Many fearing to even go to the camps for refuge, choosing undesignated areas for safety instead. This in turn makes calculating true numbers of those suffering much harder.

Three armies are now battling this wicked insurrection, from Niger,  Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.  They have joined to form a multi-national force with France supplying logistics.  Young children have been forced and indoctrinated into their armies, and as recently reported little girls used as suicide bombers.  Women and children are kidnapped and used as slaves, raped and tortured.  Christians are slaughtered for not recanting their faith. We have also connected the Janjaweed from Sudan to this group, as well as possible ties with the LRA here and in the CAR.  Now Libya has been overrun with ISIS as allegiances grow and formed.

Voice of America is reporting of one refugee camp in Cameroon, that has grown to 40,000.  They describe deplorable conditions with no running water, no toliet facilities, and very little food.  The displaced complain that Christians and Muslims are put together in the camps. With the inhumane attacks by the Boko Haram many Christians are mistrusting of Muslims in such close proximity.  Knowing insurgents infiltrate these camps, Muslims are feared as Boko Haram with many frequently taken away. There is much confusion in this crisis that has been allowed to explode not only by Nigeria, but global governments who’ve been fore warned. Fear grows for innocents mistook for insurgents, Muslim and Christian alike.

VOA reports that a humanitarian crises is looming in Cameroon.  They report that ” last week, the Cameroonian forces arrested hundreds of the refugees saying they were suspected Boko Haram fighters who had infiltrated the camp. Yega (a resident)  said life has been extremely difficult for him and his family for the one week he has been here. I brought all of my family. My wife is in the market, my children are from school. They give us food normally, but the feeding will not satisfy us. That is why they call us here today in a meeting so, may be tomorrow they will give us feeding [more food], he said. “We eat two times in a day. We cook in our various houses. Mouhaman Boukar, a cattle rancher who fled from Yerwa, Borno State said he is thankful to God for saving his life from the insurgents, but said the increasing number of Nigerians in the refugee camp is making living conditions unbearable.” (More)

Our contacts are reporting similar conditions in the refugee camps and deplorable conditions for many.  Churches are struggling to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people.

Maiduguri Christians are living in fear of Boko Haram taking control of the city. The control of Maiduguri could cause an unrevokable change the political landscape

Martin Ewi, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies said, “Maiduguri is very important, extremely important, we’re talking about two million people who live in that city.” He warned, “The strategic importance of Maiduguri cannot be overestimated. “If they can take Maiduguri, taking over the whole state will be a matter of time.”

They are worried Boko Haram has placed ‘sleeper cells’ among the refugees in Maiduguri, as they have done everywhere else in their efforts to take control. If Maiduguri were to be attacked, 200,000 Christians would be at risk, unable to escape and possibly slaughtered.

Neighboring countries, Niger, Chad and Cameroon have also become targets as their forces have joined the battle against the radical insurgents. Two people were killed in Niger on Thursday by a mine thought to have been planted by Boko Haram.

Still Reeling from Tuesday’s Attacks Suicide Bombers Target Christian Areas Again on Thursday

Explosions in Nigeria’s north-central city of Jos and the northeast town of Biu over the past two days have killed at least 34 people, witnesses said Thursday.

A suicide bomber killed people at a bus station in Biu, witnesses say, while a second bomber was caught by a crowd and reportedly beaten to death. Reports claim a second bomber was killed before carrying out his mission.

One of the bombers refused to stop  at a check point then detonated. A witness claimed, the bomber may have been heading toward Biu market, but could not get past security points set up by the Civilian JTF

Following the Biu attack, two roadside bombs exploded in the city of Jos killed at least 15 people at a bus station and the motor park near the university. Witnesses claim they heard a “loud sound” then another blast moments later.

Video taken at the scene of one blast is simply to graphic to share. Please pray for the victims and their families.

Do not let up in your prayers for Nigeria. 

Voice of the Persecuted

Christmas in Nigeria: Celebrating At Gun Point

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By Obed Minchakpu

The atmosphere was bustling with concomitant voices as each person in the crowded street market bargained for a price reduction on item(s)/they were buying. Time was running out and it is just a matter of days that the big event would be celebrated. Yes, Christmas, a period everyone looked forward to, as it is time for reunion of families, friends, communities, and a time to thank God for his faithfulness.

This market is named terminus market. Its name is derived from the fact that the spot is right in the heart of the city where travelers in and out of the city converged. The residents of the city also converge here on daily basis either to sell or buy. There used to be a main market close by, but this was destroyed about fourteen years ago when a religious crisis engulfed the city. And so, traders have now been forced to convert the adjoining streets to an emergency market.

And just as the last minute rush for shopping by excited residents of this city was on, a high pitched voice cried out: “Bomb! Bomb!!! Bomb!!! Suddenly, a loud explosion sounded. Body parts were thrown all over. There were shrieked cries of pains and anguish. Debris flew in different directions, just as activities in the market came to a standstill.

Minutes later, sirens wailed as soldiers and emergency rescue workers rushed to the scene of the explosion. Corpses littered all over. So also, wares that were on display were scattered. Gun shots rented the air as soldiers fired shots into the air to restore law and order and to create the enabling environment for rescue workers to evacuate the dead and the injured.

An hour later, death counts by rescue workers at the scene of the bomb attack showed thirty-five dead, and fourty-five injured. Days after the incident many families are still searching for missing relations. Six months earlier, more than two hundred persons had died less than a hundred meters from this present spot, when terrorists bombed traders and shoppers.

Pandemonium and confusion has engulfed the city and tension is in the air. Again, terrorists have stroked at the heart of the people. The excitement of celebrating Christmas with joy has now been turned into mourning. People are moving around wearing gloomy faces. Social activities have now ceased as there is palpable fear of more attacks.

This is not the first time that the city of Jos in central Nigeria is celebrating Christmas at gun point. In the past three years, Churches have been bombed even on Christmas days. In one of the years, bomb attacks were carried out in different parts of the city on Christmas Eve. Terrorists in Nigeria now derive pleasure in carrying out bombings during the Christmas period, just to ensure that residents of the city do not partake in this great event in human history.

praying-handsHowever, in spite of the deadly attacks, residents of Jos city have not given up on the purpose and meaning of life. To them, life is not just about celebrating, but in what one is able to do to better his life and that of others. It is for this reason that you find instead of churches being empty, they are full to the brim with Worshipers. Christians fill their churches almost on daily basis praising God for his faithfulness in spite of the incessant attacks by terrorists.

Life in Jos can never be the same again. Churches now appear to be slaughter slaps, as going to the church means signing one’s death warrant. There is no doubt that in Jos, terrorists can come at any time. For Christian Worshipers to hold successfully Sunday worship services, they must protect themselves. Streets that pass by churches have to be closed. Some members of various congregations in the city have to abandon worship services to volunteer to watch over others. While their fellow Christians are in the auditoriums praising God, these watchmen have to risk their lives standing outside in the cold and watching the streets for would-be terrorists.

Inside the churches, preachers have the same and only one message, God has incarnated and dwelt among men on earth. Jesus incarnated in order that humanity would be reconciled to God. That is the essence of Christmas, and that is the mission of Jesus.

One of the passages from the Bible that has been read severally in most churches these past few days in the city of Jos is that from the book of Isaiah.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV).

For the Christian victims of attacks by terrorists not only in the city of Jos, but also in other parts of Northern Nigeria, Jesus Christ, as God, has the power and authority over all of humanity. He incarnated and dwelt with men on earth so we can have a comforter who would stand by us in our travails and trials. Christians believe that the mission of Jesus on earth is to prepare all who believe in him for God’s heavenly kingdom. And more importantly too, is to establish his peace among his people.

These attacks by terrorists instead of dampening the spirit of Christians has brought hope into their lives. Hope of an everlasting peace because of God’s presence with them. This is the spirit of Emmanuel, God with us. The essence of Christmas. So, even when Christians are celebrating Christmas in Nigeria at gun point, the presence of God among his people had ministered peace and healing in the midst of their trials.

One other passage that has received much attention in churches in Nigeria during this Christmas season, is a passage from the book of Matthew. This Bible passage says:

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1 – 2:2 KJV).

Now, Christians believe that Christmas is a period to worship God. That is the reason churches in the city of Jos and elsewhere in Nigeria, have had to hold Carol services in spite of the state of insecurity. These Carol services have attracted unprecedented attendances. Songs of praise and worship have been rendered by various fellowship groups – Women, Youth, Choristers, and Men fellowships. Evangelism outreaches have been organized and many have come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

A very important lesson learned from messages preached from the above passage in various churches is that the wise men from the east went out in search of Jesus in order to worship him, even when they were rich men. Their status as rich men is seen from the gifts they brought to Jesus. What this means is that, the Gospel is also for the rich.

But is that the case in our country? Have the wealthy, those in authority, and those in the corridors of power realized that Jesus came for them too? Do they know that it is incumbent on them to live lives pleasing to God? Do they realize that they need to put all they have in the service of God? Are they prepared to humble themselves and submit to the authority of God, instead being power drunk? These are pertinent questions the Christmas message is posing to Nigerian leaders.

Further more, the message of Christmas as preached this past week in churches in Jos, and in other parts of Nigeria, point also to the fact that the mission of Jesus is not only targeted at the rich, but also, on the poor, the less privilege, the fatherless, and the bereaved. One of the passages that was preached from the pulpit to lay emphasis on this fact, is that from the book of Luke.

angels bring good news“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2: 8- 2:14 KJV).

The Shepherds received the good news about the birth of Jesus as the messiah. They praised God for the privilege of being partakers and heirs of his eternal kingdom. One thing stands out here, the shepherds are from the lower pedestal or strata of the society. They live in the fields and are nomadic. They move from place to place, and this is because of their cattle, and as a result, they do not have decent living conditions. They represent the poor of our society. Jesus too, came for the poor and the lowly.

In Nigeria, there are also shepherds, and church leaders and mission agencies have been working hard to present this very important message about Jesus Christ to them. This group of people who are shepherds in Nigeria are the Fulani Herdsmen. The good news is that, many Fulani men and women have come to Jesus Christ, and thousands of them in Nigeria areChristians. There are even some of them who have made decisions to go into full time Christian ministry and have been ordained pastors.

However, there are millions of other Fulani Herdsmen who are still gripped by evil. That is the reason some of them have been drafted into terror activities by Islamists and Muslim fanatics. These Fulani Herdsmen are involved in the killings going on in some states in northern Nigeria. They invade villages and attack defenseless communities. Even though this is a sad development, Jesus Christ loves the Fulani too. Christ came because of them, and this is the more reason all Christians should pray for them to know the truth about Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to ensure that we play our part by sharing the Gospel with them, and leave the conviction and conversion to the Holy Spirit.

On the whole, the mission of Jesus on earth is to reconcile the whole of mankind to God. The fall of man in the garden had separated man from God. The birth of Jesus Christ was divine intervention in an effort to bring humanity back into fellowship with God.

So, as we celebrate this Christmas, even at gun point, we must not forget that beyond the celebration, we are tasked to share this good news with all we come across with, even to those who point their guns on our heads.

Have a blessed Christmas celebration!

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

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you have greatly blessed others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support.

Voice of the Persecuted

 

 

Gunmen Kill Christian Widow in Jos, Nigeria Bomb Blasts

Jummai Sunday. (Morning Star News)

Jummai Sunday. (Morning Star News)

For Jummai Sunday, 63, Thursday (Dec. 11) began like that of any other for the Christian widow. After a morning devotional, she visited sick or bereaved families, and then returned home to gather items for sale at her market spot near the bus terminal area in Jos, Nigeria.

She survived the twin bomb blasts that the Boko Haram jihadist group is suspected of detonating that evening, but gunmen who swooped in on survivors killed her with shots to her head, leg and hand, relatives said. At least 31 other people in the predominantly Christian quarter were killed by the Islamic extremist group that has created violent chaos for five years in its bid to turn Nigeria into a sharia (Islamic law) state.

Her body was taken to a hospital in Yan Shanu, a Muslim quarter of the city where her son went to retrieve her corpse – taking with him a small contingent of police and soldiers, as he had learned that Muslims were shooting Christians in the area.

Another Christian woman selling her wares beside Sunday was shot but survived to tell relatives how the widow died.

“Her son and sister died during the attack, but she survived as she escaped while the shooting was going on,” Sunday’s 35-year-old daughter told Morning Star News. “What we found out was that soon after bombs exploded, the gunmen who planted the bombs began shooting at survivors.”

Muslims were likely among those killed or wounded in the bombing, but Boko Haram has frequently targeted Christians and Christian institutions along with government and security agency sites in its terrorist campaign; its attacks on moderate Muslims are usually aimed at particular individuals.

Boko Haram militants are suspected in bomb blasts that killed 118 people in the same area of Jos on May 20. With elections scheduled for February, Boko Haram’s efforts to destabilize the government of President Goodluck Jonathan are expected to increase. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.

Sunday’s daughter, whose name is withheld for security reasons, said she had spoken by phone with her mother that afternoon; the conversation was cut short when her mother’s phone battery apparently lost power.

“Soon after my brother had left with others to visit hospitals in the city, I received a phone call from an unknown Muslim caller,” she said. “He told me that my mom was in a hospital near their house at Yan Shanu, a Muslim quarter. I asked to know how she got there, and the man said my mom was evacuated at the scene of the bomb blast and was taken to the hospital.”

He had found her number in her mother’s cell phone call log. The caller told her to come as soon as she could. It was close to midnight.

“I asked the caller to give the phone to my mom so that I can talk to her, but he declined and said my mother’s case is critical so she would not be able to talk to me,” she said. “However, after a while this Muslim called back to tell me that I should not go the hospital as Muslims in the area are attacking Christians and killing them.”

She phoned her brother. He called soldiers and policemen who accompanied him and others to Plateau Hospital in the Yan Shanu area of Jos.

“When they got home, they told us that mom was shot by gunmen who after the bombs exploded went around shooting survivors at the scene of the explosions,” Sunday’s daughter said. “She survived the explosion but was shot dead by the gunmen.”

She described her mother as someone loved and served others, sharing the household food even when there was little of it.

“Even when things were tough for us, my mom would take foodstuffs we have in the house and share this with other families who do not have anything to eat,” she said. “A visitor to our home will always have something to eat first before Mom would talk to such a person.”

She also visited others in their homes – praying for the sick, consoling those that mourned, and sharing Scripture with those she felt needed it, her daughter said.

“Sometimes she would abandon her wares in the market and go out to share the Word of God with others before returning to the market,” she said. “There were times I had to talk to her to minimize her zeal for outreach to others, but she would caution me and say she is into the business of winning souls for God and not looking for money.”

The Rev. Musa Ishe, pastor at an Evangelical Church Winning All in Jos, said Sunday was a committed member of his church, active in the women’s fellowship group.

“We are saddened that she has been killed and in such a brutal way,” he told Morning Star News. “God has called her to be with Him at this time, and we cannot therefore question God on this. It is our prayer that God, who is an all-powerful God, will bring an end to these endless killings of Christians in this country.”

Ishe said Christians in Jos have long lived alongside Muslims without having problems.

“So we are baffled that Islam has now become a religion whose proponents derive pleasure in killing Christians without provocation,” he said. “We therefore plead with the Nigerian government to step up on the fight against terrorism so that we can have some respite from the bloodshed. We will continue to pray that these Islamists will come to know Jesus Christ and become transformed persons that God has created them to be.”

Sunday’s daughter said her mother often told them that material possessions can never bring satisfaction, and that their desire should be to do things pleasing to God.

“Whenever she advised us not to do certain things and we disobeyed her, we ended up running into difficulties; in the end, we always ran back to her asking for forgiveness for disobeying her,” she said. “With her death, it has dawned on me that my mom has left a very big task for me. I pray that I am able to have the grace to take after her. I have no choice than to follow her exemplary lifestyle of being a disciple of Jesus. I have lost a dear friend and a mother.”

Morning Star News

Obed Minchakpu: Boko Haram bombings and the national question

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By Obed Minchakpu,

I stood by the Mortuary door motionless. I could not believe what I was seeing. Is this a dream? I asked myself. Right in front of me were dead bodies, corpses of fellow Nigerians who like every other person, set out in the morning seeking for means of survival; working hard to earn a little money to keep body and soul together. But here they are by evening, lying stone dead there in front of me.

I made effort to move into the morgue to take a count of the dead bodies, but they were so many that I lacked the courage to move in further. The corpses were all placed on the bear floor of the mortuary, with no space left for one to even step in to get the details I needed. For me to move in, I have to step on some of the dead bodies and this I did not have the courage to do.

I was now shaking like one posses by demons as the reality of what fleeting lives we all live dawned on me. God! Why this destruction of lives? I asked no one in particular. Behind me too, stood relations of some of the victims who rushed to the mortuary to identify their missing relations, but the scene in the mortuary is so challenging that not a single one of them could brave it to go in there to check for their missing relations.

I brought out my iPad, took some photos and moved to a side beside the mortuary and began to pray for the repose of the souls of the departed and for comfort for those who lost loved ones in the suicide attack in Jos. In the midst of all this, there were wailings and cries from women and men within the hospital that pierced my heart and soul.

So many questions kept turning in my brain. Are we going to survive this evil that has taken over Nigeria? What is the fate of our children in a country that is under siege from the forces of evil? Only the assurances of the word of God gave me peace of mind as I quietly walked away from the mortuary of the Plateau State Specialist Hospital, Jos, moments after twin bombs exploded and killed over two hundred persons in the city of Jos in central Nigeria.

And as I moved out of the hospital to meet my wife who was waiting for me by our car by the gate of the hospital, I could hear the assuring words of Jesus that in the midst of all these tribulations there is hope for a respite.

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18 KJV)”.

Earlier in the morning I had gone to Bauchi and and returned at about 2 pm and went straight to my office along Noad Avenue in Jos, a stone throw from the scene of the bombings. While in the office at about 3 pm, the bomb explosion occurred. The blast caused massive explosion so much that it reverberated across the city of Jos. I stepped out of my office to find a chaotic scene all over. People were running and trying to escape from the blast scene. I could see cars making frantic efforts to escape as drivers tried to escape through routes they believe were safe for escape.

I took my iPad and decide to get to the scene of the blast. That is what Journalism has done to some of us. While others fear dead and try to escape in the face of danger, journalists instead make efforts to get to these dangerous places, just to inform others about happenings around them.

As I was getting close to the scene of the blast, a second explosion occurred. God! I have never experienced such a thing in my life. There were debris and objects flying all over. I could hear cries of anguished all over. In order to contain the situation soldiers who had got to the place started shooting into the air. The whole scene was chaotic as both the injured and some lucky survivors scampered away from the place. Dead bodies and body parts were scattered all over.

Those who planned this bombings knew what they really wanted. Their aim was create massive and maximum destruction, and they actually achieved this aim as the second blast occurred about twenty minutes after the first. The strategy by the bombers was to attack and create room for more people and rescue workers to move in before another attack that will cause more havoc. This strategy worked for the bombers as the second explosion caused more deaths than the first.

When all seemed to have settled, I went round looking at the destruction and taking some photos, and as well as noting down details of what I saw. With all done, I left the place, trying to make phone contacts with people I know. But at that instance, I discovered that all communication service were shut down. I could see people running up and down trying to establish contacts through phone calls with relations that were missing. I made my way home and asked my wife to take the car so that we move out to the hospitals. It was this going the hospitals that made me realized that the carnage caused by the bombing was indeed massive.

Having captured the events that engulfed the city of Jos, I am now forced to ask the question, “For how long shall we as a people and nation continue to allow this go on? This is not the first time that innocent people are being bombed in jos. In the past two years churches have been bombed, and now the bombings have been extended to market places.

Jos is not the only city that has had to contend with Boko Haram bombings. Just on Sunday, Kano had a similar attack in the Sabon Gari area of the city. Other cities that have been bombed in the past include Kaduna, Zaria, Abuja, Maiduguri and so many other places. But the thing is that in all these bombings, Christians have been at the receiving end.

The bomb attack in Jos was targeted at an area that only Christians had shops. So, majority of those who died are no doubt, Christians. In the past two years too, only churches in the city of Jos were bombed. The COCIN Headquarters Church was bombed, the St. Finbar’s Catholic Church was bombed, and another Pentecostal church along Rukuba road was bombed.

That this is a clear war against Christians is that only areas being inhabited by Christians were bombed in the past. And these areas include: Gada Biyu, Angwan Rukuba, Tina Junction, Odus, and Tudun Wada. All these are Christian wards in the city of Jos. Yet, there has never been any bombs that have exploded in any Muslim area of Jos. The question then is, why is this so?

In Kaduna State, churches were also bombed in the cities of Kaduna and Zaria. Some of the churches bombed include: St. Rita’s Catholic Church, Malali; St. George’s Catholic Cathedral, Zaria, and ECWA Church, Wusasa, Zaria. So also, St. Andrew’s Protestant Church, Jaji Military Cantonment was bombed, and just as another Pentecostal church was bombed in the city of Kaduna. So, who’s is making claims that this is not a war against the Church and Christians in Nigeria?

In Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, a Catholic Church was bombed in Madala, a suburb of the city. And then the recent attack at Nyanya in which most of the victims are Christians going by the list of names victims in hospitals published by the Nigerian government.

Against the backdrop of these, it is clear that Muslims in Northern Nigeria desire to wipe out Christians in order to enable them establish an Islamic theocratic state, an agenda Boko Haram is pursuing vigorously and with the active support and collaboration of the Northern Nigerian Muslim political class and the feudal oligarchy.

With this sad development, the time has come for hard decisions to be made. There is no doubt that for minority Christians in Northern Nigeria to survive, this country has to cease to exist as a political entity. We can no longer bear to see our people being destroyed in the name of national unity. Whose interest is this unity serving in the first place?

So, we make bold to demand that Nigeria’s parliament and the Nigerian government must now, resolve amicably that the Nigerian state should cease to exist and each political component of the country should become autonomous and the people that will form any part of these new states should do so bearing in mind their common affinities and religious affiliations.

The Nigerian state should be collapsed into four independent states and this should be: south-west, South-east and South-south, Middle Belt, and the far North. And since the far north is where the problem is coming from, they should go ahead with their plan to have an Islamic state and leave others in peace.

This is the task before the Nigerian government and the National Assembly. This must be resolved now. Failure to adopt this option to peacefully address the wrongs being meted against minority Christians in Northern Nigeria and other ethnic nationalities that are residing in northern part of this country, would no doubt lead Nigeria into a fratricidal war in the no distant future.

Jesus during his earthly Ministry said: “And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Mark 4:9 KJV)”.

Let the Nigerian government hear that the end has come and each and [sic]every one of us wants to return to his tent.

“And when all Israel saw that the king would not hearken unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? and we have none inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to your tents, O Israel: and now, David, see to thine own house. So all Israel went to their tents (2 Chronicles 10:16 KJV).”

Obed Minchakpu  is a Writer, Author, Journalist, and a Media Consultant. He has contributed articles to Prism, Christianity Today, Charisma, and online news organizations.

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