The reign of terror of Boko Haram: eyewitness accounts

What Pope Francis said about Christians in the Middle East--that they are living an "ecumenism of blood"--also applies in Nigeria, where Catholic and Protestants alike are marked for death by Boko Haram.

Father Gideon Obasogie, Director of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri. “Madagali in Adamawa like many other towns which has a large number of Christians was overrun. Christians in Madagali town are really in a terrible situation, living a moment of great persecution. Christian men were caught and beheaded; the women were forced to become Muslims and were taken as wives for the terrorists. Some Boko Haram sympathizers around the town identified Christian homes and the Christians hiding inside were identified and killed. Strict Sharia law has been promulgated.”

Rev. Caleb Ahema, President of the Christian Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria.
Recently insurgents from Boko Haram, based in Borno state, have reportedly joined ethnic Fulani herdsmen in attacks on Christians in Taraba State.

Village devastated by Boko Haram in Diocese of Bauchi, Niger

“Two days after the ceasefire announcement, armed Muslim extremists stormed two churches in Taraba state on Sunday October 19 and killed 31 people as they worshipped; two pastors, one pastor's son, and 28 other Christians were slain in the attacks in the villages of Gindin Waya and Sondi. The attack on Christians in Taraba state is a planned genocide against Christians by Islamic insurgents who have invaded the southern part of the state, inhabited mostly by Christians, since February.”

According to the police, the attackers initially were thought to be Fulani herdsmen but as the attacks progressed, it became obvious that they were members of Boko Haram.

Rev. Fr. Charles Jabana, Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Jalingo
“The motive behind the Southern Taraba crisis has been variously interpreted. Prima facie, it appears to be the age long conflict between farmers and herdsmen but the dimension it has assumed suggests there is much more to it. Eye witnesses to the crisis testify that when the villages were attacked, gun shots were accompanied by shouts of Allahu akbar (Allah is great) which suggests a religious dimension. The National Defense Headquarters in Abuja revealed in a press conference that those who were arrested by the Military during the crisis confessed that they were members of Boko Haram from Borno State brought into Taraba State to fight jihad.”
(Fall 2014)

Gwoza Christian Community Association
On Aug. 6, 2014, the predominantly Christian Gwoza local government was captured by Boko Haram and declared an Islamic Caliphate. They mounted their black flag with sword logo in the middle of the town, destroyed several houses, burnt down churches, captured military personnel and brutally massacred the people. “What is happening can best be regarded as being a sponsored annihilation of the Christians in Gwoza, Borno State.”

One of the members sharing his experience observed that Boko Haram seemed to hate the sign of the cross most. All the Christians wearing a cross were said to be slaughtered. Any church building that had a cross on it was brought down.”

Those who were able to escape went to Michika (a Local Government Area of Adamawa State) as displaced people, some stopped in other villages in the borders of  Borno and Adamawa States helpless without shelter, food or water to drink. “I have not eaten for 6 days,” said one of the survivors.

Voice of the Martyrs
According to an eyewitness account:
“Over 100 militants dressed in military uniforms swarmed the predominantly Christian Attagara village just as Sunday church services were beginning on June 1.

"The rebels opened fire on the village and went after people with their machetes. 55-year-old Sawaltha Wandala witnessed the Boko Haram slaughtering children at a church as he arrived for the second service. He saw the men throw one child into a ditch. More concerned for the child than his own safety, he picked up the 6-year-old boy, who had survived being severely slashed, and immediately rushed to take the child to the hospital in Cameroon. Sawaltha was stopped by five insurgents, who grabbed the boy from his arms and beheaded him, before turning to beat Sawaltha with tree branches.

"John Yakubu, another Christian villager from Attagara, reported being tied to a tree for three days and tortured with a machete and a knife by Boko Haram terrorists in an attempt to forcibly convert him to Islam."

Father Emmanuel Atsue, Vice-Rector, Sacred Heart Minor Seminary, Jauro Yinu Taraba State
“Some of the students are broken down because, even their parents who took refuge in Mubi, Adamawa State have again re-located to Cameroon two weeks ago when that town was also captured. One of them came up to me and asked, ‘Father, where will I go when we vacate? I don't know where my parents are.’ I sighed, not knowing what to say. I just mumbled "no problem, you will be okay." But when I went into my room, I couldn't help the tears from my eyes.” The situation is very pathetic.” (November 2014)

These testimonies were gathered by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, president of the Nigerian bishops’ conference. They were presented as part of his talk on Boko Haram, delivered at conference on Christian persecution sponsored by the Polish office of Aid to the Church in Need in Warsaw, Poland (Dec. 6-14, 2014). Sources are available upon request.


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