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NIGERIA (Voice of the Persecuted) Fr. Gideon Obasogie, Director of Social Communications of the Diocese of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria, reported to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) that two Catechists (pastors) and a student Catechist were killed during a suicide attack carried out by two young women outside a Church in Pulka. The village is located in the Gwoza local government area which borders with Cameroon and the Sambisa Forest.
On 11/12/2017, we gathered that the Boko Haram elements sent two female suicide bombers to blend in with the internally displaced (refugees) returning from the Minawao camp. Pastor Joseph Naga, 56 was nearing a church to interview those preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation when the two women accosted and hugged him. Concerned by the women’s actions, Pastor John Manye, 38 and student-pastor Patrick, 27 went to assist the older pastor. According to Fr. Gideon, “Little did the Catechists know that the women were suicide bombers.” But as the younger Catechists approached, the two suicide bombers detonated their vests and John and Patrick were also caught up in the blast. Dozens inside the church were injured and rushed to the Hospital, he said. There are no reports of any fatalities from the wounded. The attack was also near an IDP camp hosting the returnees.
The men had been appointed by the Bishop of Maiduguri, Most Rev. Oliver Dashe, to see to the immediate pastoral exigency of the catholic faithful in Pulka. Vatican Radio reported Catechists Joseph Naga was married and with eleven children and had worked as a Catechist for 36 yrs. John Manye, a Catechist for 11 years is survived by a wife and five children. Patrick, the student-Catechist was unmarried, [but will also be sorely missed by his loved ones].
Fr. Gideon shared with VOP,
“THE PLIGHT OF MY PEOPLE: Since Boko Haram’s ferocious campaign and occupation of most communities in the Northeast around the later part of 2014, life hasn’t been wonderful for the survivors and returnees. The Boko Haram fighters moved out of the Sambisa forest, overran most communities bordering the fierce forest and tried to extend their counterfeit caliphate from Gwoza to the north through Pulka and Bama in Borno State. Then, to the north of Adamawa state through Madagali, Michika, Uba and Mubi. With the help of God and the courage of our military men, we saw a twist and the ruthless arm of terrorism was rolled back”
The drama of displaced people caused by Boko Haram
“Gradually, as days rolled into weeks and weeks into months, a considerable number of our people have come home to settle and begin life anew. The destruction had been done and all we are left with is heartache and ulcer pains. The mere thought of the destructive acts of Boko Haram breeds heart attacks and spinal shocks. Little wonder a lot of our beloved friends have passed on in recent times, he lamented. The rate of psychosis is alarming, my people now suffer from a wide range of disorders, heightened fear of the future and nervousness, which were all together alien in our land”.
“Before the end of 2015, we saw our displaced people who sought refuge in save havens courageously traced their steps back to their ancestral homes. Probably they were propelled by the popular saying ‘no place is good as home.’ Some came home to seek their aging parents and sick relatives, while others came not only to count their losses but to rescue some valuables.
The truth of the matter is that our people in the Northern part of Adamawa State, under the Ecclesiastical circumscription of Maiduguri Diocese (Madagali, Michika, Uba and Mubi), are back to their communities. Their means of livelihood in this part of the globe, after the shift of the militants, have become consistently challenging.
Our farms have become comfort zones for the terrorists. We cannot go to the farms since returning. My people can only plant vegetables and grains in the neighborhood. It is worth noting that this is an agricultural community where farming is invaluable. It’s not uncommon that even graduates and most civil servants make time to cultivate their farms to feed themselves and sell their produce likely pay the school fees of their wards.”
It’s no news that Governor Bindow’s administration of Adamawa State has long declared a State of emergency on the Health sectors. “We sincerely hope that this would be a snake oil to the challenging, dilapidating and seemingly total absence of health care facilities in Michika- Madagali axis of the State. The Catholic Church is however, putting made-shift or mobile clinic to see to the immediate needs of our people.”
THE RETURN TO PULKA
Fr. Gideon emphasized that among the millions of displaced, there are over 91,000 people who left Nigeria to take refuge in Cameroon. However, the hostilities they encountered had pushed many to return to Nigeria at the cost of exposing themselves to the violence of the armed Boko Haram group. The Nigerian army has been re-gaining control of most of the north-east. Since the start of 2017, populations slowly began to return to the area. Nevertheless, returnees, including those from Cameroon refugee camps, are coming back to a precarious humanitarian and tenuous security situation as Boko Haram terrorists continue to rage against the innocent civilian population.
The Bishop of Maiduguri was scheduled to visit the Pulka community at a later date to pray with and encourage the faithful. While he calls on the government and military to check and double check all corners so as to completely wipe out the terrorists, he continues to pray for the safety of the community and the victims in this attack.
Fr. Obasaogie said, “The Pulka community was joyfully preparing for the pastoral visit of the Bishop but have now been thrown into this sadness. They are scared, but they say they will stand for Christ and that the death of their Catechists shall not be in vain.”
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We plan for a long-term mission in Nigeria and they will not be forgotten!
Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our persecuted Christians including those who’ve fled government camps to escape the ongoing threats and pressure to convert. Our mission also supports families, staying at a Christian IDP camp, from the Pulka community who were forced to flee their homes during Boko Haram attacks. All recent reports confirm their apprehensions of returning back to this dangerous area with their families.
In great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thankful for each one of you who have joined this mission through your prayers and support. Your gifts have brought so many smiles. THANK YOU! There are at least 200 men, women and children still living in the camp. Food, clothing, medicine and medical attention are their greatest needs. If you would like to show your compassion for those who’ve faced unimaginable persecution please support our Nigerian relief mission, today. Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope. We pray they will experience much joy as they glorify God, this Christmas!
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
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“The despotic regime of President Duterte is transforming the whole country into an extermination camp”
(Agenzia Fides) – “Killing a human being means violating his inviolable and inalienable right to life. Killing a priest who is a consecrated person and preventing him from continuing his apostolate in favor of the poor, the excluded and the marginalized is an even graver sin and a crime that shouts to heaven for justice. We live these killings of priests and pastors in the Year of Clergy and Consecrated, a sign of the inestimable gift of life”: this is how Bishop Edwin de La Pena, Bishop of the tortured city of Marawi, on the island of Mindanao, comments to Agenzia Fides the murder of 72-year-old Don Tito Paez, priest of the diocese of San jose, victim of an extrajudicial execution on 4 December 2017. This is the first Catholic priest killed under President Duterte’s government. “I join my voice in denouncing this evil act to prevent him from fulfilling his prophetic task of defending those who are unjustly deprived of their basic human rights”, says the Bishop.
On 3 December, Protestant pastor Lovelito Quiñones, 57, was shot dead in Mansalay, in the province of Eastern Mindoro. On the same day, eight indigenous people (the so-called “lumad”) were killed by soldiers by the Philippine army in the province of South Cotabato in Mindanao.
Civil society groups, Catholic organizations and human rights defenders deplore and condemn the killing of these 10 activists in just a few days, on the eve of the International Human Rights Day, which is celebrated on 10 December. According to the groups, who manifest dissent in various parts of Manila, the killing of civilians and activists, often by “death squads”, recall the time of the dictatorship of Ferdinando Marcos. Among the protest groups there are the civil society forum “Karapatan”, and the “rural Missionaries of the Philippines” who complain about “state terrorism” and have announced a major demonstration in Luneta Parl in Manila on December 10th, International Human Rights Day. Nuns, religious, priests and young Catholics and Protestants will be among those present at the protest.
“The despotic regime of President Duterte is transforming the whole country into an extermination camp”, said Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of “Karapatan”, raising the alarm on human rights violations across the country. “Unarmed civilians have become targets of state security forces” she noted, hoping for “a serious investigation into the murders”.
“Karapatan” attributes the latest attacks against the military program of “counter-insurgency” launched by Duterte, called “Oplan Kapayapaan”, similar to that promoted by the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo, that carried out 1,206 extrajudicial killings, mostly activists and alleged supporters of the Communist armed groups of the “New People’s Army”. In a speech on November 29, Duterte urged soldiers to shoot members of the New People’s Army. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 7/12/2017)
According to an article by Stanley Mwahanga and Joseph Masha— on Monday, a group of influential evangelical Christian leaders denounced the senseless killings and asked the Government to uphold the constitutional right to assemble and worship.
Mombasa County Police Commander Robert Kitur claimed two people, including a guard was being held in the fatal shooting of Pastor Charles Mathole of the Redeemed Gospel Church in Kisauni.
Kitur deminished claims that police had not taken action after being informed that threatening messages were sent anonymously to the pastor.
Officers at Nyali Police Station disregarded the death threats as hoaxes sent by convicted criminals, but Kitur said he was not aware of any report was made.
“We normally protect mosques on Friday and churches every Sunday,” Kitur said describing the killing as “a very queer murder” the motive has not been established.
While Pastor Charles Mathole was being gunned down in Mombasa, a pastor with the East African Pentecostal Churches, Ebrahim Kidata in Kilifi was also attacked.
Christians on Sunday claimed that Mathole’s killing was done to curtail the spread of evangelical churches in Kisauni. Pastor Kithaka’s supporters said he was preparing to open more branches of his church in the Vitengeni area.
In statement signed by Bishops Wilfred Lai, Tom Arati, Lambert Mbela, Charles Kwake and Abarijah Kinogah said,
“The Mombasa Church Forum categorically states that no attack on Christians will deter us from our way of worship and our freedom of religion. To the perpetrators of these heinous attacks, we hereby state that we will not be intimidated and will continue to worship our Lord in our churches.”
They also called for the Government to expedite investigations of the murdres and to launch a disarmament exercise at the Coast.
Pastor Abarijah said there was a pattern in the attacks against churches and pastors in the region, making them believe that the Church is under attack.
“Up until now, we think the Church is being targeted. It started with the October 11 attack on the Salvation Army in Majengo and now two priests have been shot in unclear circumstances. There is a possibility that the church is a target,” Bishop Kinogah said.
Arati urged believers be intimated into abandoning their places of worship and urged the Government to ensure security in the area.