Since the beginning of 2014, the Nigerian government has proven unable to protect Christians living in northern Nigeria from the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram. According to estimates, over 350 people have been killed in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram since the beginning of 2014. Many of these victims were murdered for no other reason than their Christians faith. Please pray that security and peace will soon be established in northern Nigeria.
2/24/2014 Nigeria (Christian Today) – In the days before a vicious wave of attacks on February 15 that killed hundreds in northeast Nigeria, villagers fled their homes, fearful something terrible was about to happen. But the army was nowhere to be seen, a church leader says.
Militants of the Islamist Boko Haram sect swept out of the hills and bush of the Gwoza Mountains and into eight villages across Borno and Adamawa states. Armed with rifles, knifes and fire, they killed at least 200 and burned scores of homes and shops.
As many as 121 of the dead were from the Borno village of Izghe, a predominantly Christian town in the Muslim-majority northeast. Near midnight on February 15, gunmen dressed in military fatigues and chanting “Allahu Akbar”, meaning “God is great”, rode in on trucks and motorcycles, survivors and local sources say. The attackers ordered villagers to gather together and then opened fire, chasing and killing any who attempted to escape and slitting the throats of several victims.
Though Borno and two other north-eastern states have been under an official state of emergency since May 2013, there were no Nigerian soldiers standing between the attackers and the residents, a church leader told World Watch Monitor. Two days earlier, 10 soldiers had been killed in a clash with members of Boko Haram in that area, but had since withdrawn, according to the District Head of Izghe, Mallam Bulama Apagu.
A local church leader told World Watch Monitor that rumours of an eventual reprisal attack by Boko Haram, without protection of the army, prompted hundreds to flee.
“Christians live in perpetual fear of being attacked. In recent days, it becomes very risky to travel from one place to another as attacks have become recurrent, almost on daily basis. We feel lonely and abandoned and rely on God for our security,” the church official said. World Watch Monitor is withholding his name to preserve his safety.
A survivor of the attack, farmer Barnabas Idi, who scaled the fence of his house and crawled for about 40 minutes to safety, was quoted in news reports saying security forces were not present during the attack, which lasted five hours.
The recent upsurge in violence has raised criticism over the government’s ability to root out the militants.
“The authorities have so far failed to fulfil their task of ensuring peace and security to Nigerians in every area of the country,” Mgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, archbishop of Jos and president of the Nigerian Episcopal Conference, told the Catholic news agency Fides. “Despite the efforts and significant resources invested to combat these fanatical groups, policymakers and the Nigerian military have not yet managed to get to the bottom of the problem.”
Nigeria’s military ruler during a portion of the 1980s, retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, condemned the continued violence in Borno state.
“There is no justification for this wanton disregard for the sanctity and dignity of human life. Any ideology that traffics in terror and violence is a devilish ideology that has no place in a civilised society,” he said in a statement posted on his facebook page on Feb. 16.
The Northern States Governors Forum, representing Nigeria’s 19 northern states, urged the federal government to arrest the violence before it spreads to other parts of the country. And the United Nations human rights office condemned “in the strongest terms” the killings in Izghe and elsewhere. About 367 people have been killed at the hands of Boko Haram in 22 separate incidents during the first six weeks of 2014.