Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Catalog of Pastors Deaths by Boko Haram Militants

A Catalog of Pastors Deaths by Boko Haram Militants

As anxiety is mounting over the activities of Boko Haram group, some Muslims are defusing the fear as misplaced. They see the group as only a new breed of young Muslim activists who have aggressively embraced a stricter version of Islam, rejecting anything Western and Christian. Boko Haram began life as a peaceful group focused on the study of the Koran, according to Abdulmumin Sa’ad, a Muslim scholar and professor of Sociology at the University of Maiduguri.

“The idea was that there is a lot of sin in the larger society and their parents had amassed a lot of ill-gotten wealth,” says Sa’ad, who taught some of the militants. “There is widespread immorality, and so the best thing to do is to remove themselves and camp elsewhere, where they can concentrate on their religion, mediate, reach out and begin to form a fellowship.” Sa’ad claims that group turned violent when authorities harassed it.

In retaliation, the group had killed about 16,000 policemen and was responsible for the death of pastors in Christian circle. Worried about the safety of Christians and pastors in Nigeria, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, asked the federal government to curb the growing trend of terrorism in parts of the country. “We can no longer allow this group of disgruntled elements to get away with these acts of terrorism in Nigeria,” he said.

The catalogue of death of pastors by Boko Haram militants is raising alarm immediate change. Pastor David Usman, 45, and church secretary Hamman Andrew of the 'Church of Christ in Nigeria' in the troubled city of Maiduguri on the 7 June and Pastor Solomon Uzor of Trinity Chapel in Bauchi on the 10 May were among the latest casualties in what local Christians called "an upsurge of Islamic militancy" in these states.

Evangelical Christians said the two men were shot and killed by members of the Boko Haram sect near an area of Maiduguri, known as Railway Quarters, where their church is based. Hours earlier the gunmen also participated in blasts and attacks that left at least ten people dead, police said. A Catholic church, which was also targeted in the attacks, has been badly shattered, according to witnesses.

The same incident was reported in Lagos where Boko Haram members allegedly killed Pastor Daniel Okolu with two other people in November 2010. Pastor Michael Madugu, had just returned to his medicine store when his assailants pounced on him. Eyewitnesses said: “Two motorcyclists just stopped in front of the shop around 7.00pm and started shooting into the air to scare away people before they opened fire on Madugu. His assailants then moved immediately to the next medicine store where one Obinna and his brother were also shot to death. Unlucky James, another victim, who was about to enter Obinna’s store to buy medicine was also shot dead .

It was gathered that Michael Madugu, a district pastor in charge of Hausa church, was killed by a gang of four fundamentalists in his pharmaceutical shop while dispensing drugs to customers at about 7.05 p.m., leaving his wife and seven children to mourn him.

On December 24, armed men suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect stormed some churches including the Victory Baptist Church at Dala-Alamderi and shot to death the resident pastor, Rev. Bulus Marwa (37), Christopher Balami, a lecturer in the state-owned polytechnic, Paul Mathew, Philip Luka and a tea hawker, Yohana Adamu. The rampaging gunmen also set the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in Ruwan Safi ablaze. A Deeper Life pastor, 3 others were killed in Maiduguri by suspected members of Boko Haram Jan 20, 2011.

Danjuma Akawu, who survived the attack on the Baptist church, said “they hacked the two choir members using knives and petrol bomb before heading to the pastor’s residence, where he was killed.”

On 26 July, 2009 the girl identified by CSW only as Mary was in church with her pastor, his brother and an older Christian woman when a group of fifty militants broke in. She and her pastor hid as the group killed the pastor’s brother and dragged the older woman out of the room. On discovering their hiding place, the militants cut off her pastor’s hand to stop him holding on to her, then hacked him to death with machetes before setting him on fire.

The girl and the woman were dragged to Boko Haram's compound in Maiduguri's Railway district, and were placed in a room with around 100 other Christian women and girls. They were all asked to renounce their faith or face continued imprisonment, while Christian men were given the choice of renouncing their faith or dying.

Mary vividly describes how she was forced to wash the blood stained clothing of Boko Haram fighters. She was in the camp for four days, but managed to escape with a few others when military forces intensified their attack on the compound.

Mary's pastor was one of three Christian ministers targeted and killed by Boko Haram during that week's violence. "Local Christians have also expressed disappointment that some western media have disregarded the targeted nature of attacks on their community, and the brutal murders of Christian pastors. "Unless this aspect of the violence is recognised by all and dealt with effectively, people in Northern Nigeria will continue to suffer because of their religious beliefs.”

One of the victims of that week’s attack by the Yusufiya sect in Borno State has given a shocking account of how the Islamic extremists killed three pastors who were captured along with other victims on the second day of the insurgence 28 July 2009. The victim was among those held hostage in Yusuf’s enclave.

Speaking exclusively to Daily Sun in Maiduguri, the eye witness who preferred anonymity disclosed that the three pastors were beheaded on the instruction of the sect leader, Mohammed Yusuf shortly after bringing them out of his inner chamber.

“The pastors alongside one Ibo man were asked to change their faith to Islam like they did to other people taken as hostages. And there was an argument by one of the pastors which gave the others some level of confidence to also resist accepting Islam.

“The Yusufiya men who were armed on that Tuesday afternoon were not comfortable with the pastors and they took one of them to the sect leader in his inner chamber. They came out later to the courtyard within the compound and cut their heads one after the other and thereafter, shouted allah akbar in wild celebration accompanied with several gun shots,” the eye witness disclosed.

Corroborating the account of the killing, a Senior pastor with Good News Church, Wulari Maiduguri Rev. Baba Gata Ibrahim told Daily Sun in an interview that a pastor in his church, Pastor George Orjih was beheaded on the instruction of the Boko Haram leader because the clergy man refused to accept Islam.

The late Pastor George Orjih was said to have arrived Maiduguri last week from Jos where he was doing his Masters programme in Theology. Described as a fearless, hardworking, and intellectually sound, his care for the welfare and well being of his family allegedly contributed to his capture and eventual death. “He was mindful of his family and their welfare. He was really out of the house but thought to go back again. That was how he was captured by the Boko Haram before he was killed,’’ the senior pastor added.

“An eye witness who was also captured by the Islamic militants gave us details of how the pastor was killed. He told us they were persuading him to accept Islam and he said over his dead body. He was even said to have preached Christ to Mohammed Yusuf and that reportedly angered the sect leader who then as he ordered that the pastor and others be killed immediately,” he disclosed.

He said the hostages numbering about 50 within the area of the execution of the pastors and another fair complexioned man which he could not identify, were gripped with fear as non could foretell the outcome of their stay at the enclave of the fundamentalists. He was however lucky to escape as he was freed in the night with others with a warning not to mix with kafrici (infidels).

Late Rev. Sabo Yakubu, slain COCIN Church pastor, was assassinated in Bauchi by Boko Haram militants March 2011. The late pastor had once complained about the activities of Boko Haram, saying that unless the Nigerian government faced up to the challenge of its attacks, the extremist group would consume the lives of innocent persons, according to Gongchi. But Reverend Titus Dama Pona of the Evangelical Church Winning All in Maiduguri said local Christians remain concerned about their future. He told reporters that Christians can no longer worship freely for "fear of becoming targets of these unprovoked attacks" by Muslim militants.

A statement was issued by pastor Ladi Thompson, the founder of the Living Water Church, Anthony Lagos that the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Ogun State is an obvious target of the Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram. This is not just a possibility but one of the deadly plans of the fundamentalist group, according to a Christian cleric, Pastor Ladi Thompson.

He particularly advised the leadership of the RCCG to beef up security as the fundamentalists are angry that in the build-up to the last election, President Goodluck Jonathan who visited the camp knelt down for prayer before the General Overseer of the church, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye.

Pastor Ladi advised authorities of the church not to allow worshipers come into its worship hall with more than their Bibles. He also cautioned the church against allowing people to enter the camp with paper bags or other suspicious containers.
When the group launched its attacks in July 2009, Pastor Ladi had alerted the government that what happened then was just a tip of the iceberg and revealed that the Islamic fundamentalists had been at plan since early 1990s, fully backed by some northern former military leaders, Emirs, intellectuals and Imams.

According to Umaru’s declaration the acting leader of the sect in 2009 said: For the first time since the killing of Mallam Mohammed Yusuf, our leader, we hereby make the following statements-

*That the Boko Haram is an Islamic Revolution which impact is not limited to Northern Nigeria, in fact, we are spread across all the 36 states in Nigeria, and Boko Haram is just a version of the Al Qaeda which we align with and respect. We support Osama bin Laden, we shall carry out his command in Nigeria until the country is totally Islamised which is according to the wish of Allah.

It must be recalled that the Islamic group that goes by such names as Boko Haram and Jama’atu ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’awati wal Jihad had made an open declaration of war on the 28th of December 2010 after several bombs were exploded in the city of Jos, along with various Islamic killings in Kano, Bauchi and Maiduguri on the Christmas Eve. Abu Mohammed also known as Abubakar bin Mohammad Shekau the leader and spokesperson for the group said;

“I want to tell the Muslims in this country and the whole world that they need to know that this is a war between Muslims and non-Muslims… this is not a tribal war, nor is it similar to the wars of the pre-Islamic era, it is not a war for financial gains, it is solely a religious war. We did not start this war so it would not end in one week, or one month or one year. Only when we are completely annihilated and nobody chooses to continue with our struggle may be that could be the end. Or we establish a system where [Islamic] religion has the final say or [Islamic] religion determines everything, that will be the end of this war…” He went further to boast that “We are ready for anyone willing to face us, whether it is a group of people or even the government because we know who supports us, God the Creator of the universe, Allahu Akbar. Therefore, we are warning every Muslim who believes in the religion of Islam that he should never help a non-Muslim in this war. If he helps any non-Muslim and in so doing, a fellow Muslim suffers due to that, he should know that he is a dead person.”

The Police Commissioner Mohammed Abubakar admitted a security lapse on the part of his divisional police officers, whom he said had been told to watch out for Boko Haram members. The activities of the Islamic extremist Boko Haram, whose names means “Western education is sin,” were crushed by police in 2009 with the arrest of many of its members and the killing of its leader.

Lagos Police command beef up security to prevent the dastardly incident happening in Lagos, the state command yesterday beefed up security around its environs. Anti-bomb operatives from the Bomb Disposal Squad unit, Ikeja, were spotted at the entrance of the Lagos State Police Headquarters, the force Annex headquarters in Moloney, the Special Anti-robbery squad, Adeniji-Adele and the Special Fraud Unit, Milverton, Ikoyi, screening vehicles that were entering the premises. Even people on foot were not spared as they were thoroughly frisked.

The general superintendent of Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor William Kumuyi, demanded the arrest and prosecution of the Boko Haram members and others to serve as a deterrent.

“A situation in which feuds easily lead to the burning of churches and the endless killings of church ministers and innocent citizens is an abhorrent trend which must not be allowed to continue,” Pastor Kumuyi said. “The initiative rests on the doorsteps of the security agencies to bring this unfortunate trend to an end.”
The attack on the National Police Headquarters in Abuja last week was a slap and insult on the part of the security forces. Ndigwe said the attack on the Force Headquarters "is a very strong signal that nobody is safe in this country because if the seat of the nation's Police Force could be easily attacked without any resistance, then there is serious danger for the nation.

According to the report from the sect spokesman Abu Zaid: The man who bombed the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja on June 16 was a fairly well-to-do businessman who was actually on a suicide mission on behalf of the Islamic sect the Boko Haram, Blueprint can authoritatively report.

Mohammed Manga was a 35-year-old married man with five children who drove overnight from Maiduguri to Abuja in order to carry out the morning attack which left about five people dead, including a police officer, and many cars incinerated in the blast. He had left N4 million in his will for his five children – two girls and three boys – before embarking on the fateful journey to the nation’s capital.

There was proof also that Manga was accompanied on the deadly mission by at least a collaborator in the plot, who took his last photograph alive as he drove through the streets of Abuja. The collaborator(s) might have disembarked from the car before Manga reached the Louis Edet House headquarters of the Nigerian Police.

Blueprint can also authoritatively report that, contrary to a claim by the police authorities that the bomber had used a Mercedez Benz ‘V Boot’ car in his terror mission; he actually used a Honda 86 model.

These shocking details and others were made exclusively available to this newspaper by the leadership of the Islamist sect, Jama’atu Ahl-Sunnati Lil Da’awati wal Jihad, popularly called the Boko Haram, in a telephone interview in the Hausa language, fielded by the group’s spokesman who goes by the name Abu Zaid.

The group also e-mailed to our Borno State correspondent startling photographs of a grinning Manga as he undertook the revenge mission. It was the first time it was giving a glimpse into its operations.One of the most startling information given by Abu Zaid was that the attacker was one Mohammed Manga, who was better known and addressed by his friends and business associates as Alhaji Manga.“He is originally from Adamawa State but he was born and brought up in Maiduguri, where he embraced the teachings of the late Mohammed Yusuf,” the spokesman said.

Mohammed Yusuf was the leader of the group and was killed by the police in 2009 following the bloodiest clash involving the Boko Haram in which thousands of the sect’s members and other people died.Blueprint was also told by the sect that Manga was Fulani by tribe and that he started both as a commercial and private driver at different times in his adult life. A few years before the July 2009 Boko Haram uprising, Manga began to travel to Cotonou in Benin Republic and later Dubai frequently in order to buy all kinds of goods.He was a major contributor to the Boko Haram’s arms build-up.

Abu Zaid also confided in this newspaper that Manga left a will of over N4 million to his two daughters and three sons and urged fellow believers to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Allah. This, the group said, is evident in the last-minute pictures of Manga, believed to have been taken at a camp somewhere in Borno State.The man’s last will and the photographs are proof that Manga was on a suicide mission and that his death at the Louis Edet House headquarters of the police was not an accident.
“He was calm and never hesitated or showed fear,” Abu Zaid recalled, adding that everyone at the scene that night on the eve of the attack was envious, wishing it was their chance to act and gain entry into paradise.

According to him, the planning of the attack targeting the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Hafiz Ringim, was not in any way different from the way and manner they plan other attacks around the country, insisting that the only difference was that this mission was abruptly brought closer in response to the remarks made by Ringim that he would eradicate the Boko Haram within weeks.The IGP had on June 15 boasted, while receiving10 armoured personnel carriers donated to the police by the Borno State government, that the Boko Haram’s days were numbered.

“Now that the (general) elections are over, our attention would be concentrated and I want to assure you that the days of the Boko Haram are numbered,” Ringim had told a gathering at the Government House in Maiduguri, with the state governor Kashim Shettima present.

Abu Zaid also claimed that the bomb his group used in the attack was a ready-made one, which the sect acquired from abroad. “And we are going to use several of them in future attacks,” he warned.The group dismissed media reports and commentaries that suggest it might not have planned a suicide attack but that the bomb blast was merely an accident in which the attacker was trapped, insisting that it was really pre-planned.“Everyone had waited patiently for the outcome of that operation,” said Abu Zaid.

According to him, the car that was used was not a Mercedes Benz ‘V-Boot’, but an ash-colour Honda 86 model.“I was surprised when the police said the car was a Mercedes ‘V-Boot’,” he said. “It was never a Mercedes. The car used for the attack was an ash-colour Honda 86. We are surprised over the way the police are confused anytime we strike.”

Meanwhile, the group has discredited the conditions for dialogue ostensibly given by the Boko Haram by one Usman Al-Zawahiri and others, challenging them to give a single proof that they are with the authentic group.

“We don’t know Al-Zawahiri; he is not with us,” Abu Zaid said.
“In fact, our investigation revealed that he is an SSS (State Security Service operative) and was brought in to discredit what we are doing and give an impression that we are divided. There is no faction in our group.”

Giving a reason why the Boko Haram chose Blueprint correspondent for breaking the news, Abu Zaid remarked: “You were the first journalist who repeatedly wrote about us when we were not known to the world; you were the first journalist who reported when our brothers were shot at on their way to a funeral procession by members of a security outfit setup by the Borno State government, known as ‘Operation Flush.’ We see you as an objective writer who is never afraid to say the truth; that is why our leader approved the idea to give you the final evidence that we were solely behind the suicide attack at the police headquarters.”

The Boko Haram is believed to be headed by one Malam Abubakar Shekau, the deputy of the late Mohammed Yusuf.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) calling on President Jonathan to urgently re-strategise and tackle the current security challenges which had become a major threat to his administration, Ndigwe said that the Ohanaeze would soon convene a meeting to discuss the security of the nation and come up with a position because "the bombings in Iran, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East started like this."

Source: Chidi Ahmed, Blueprint Correspondent.

Releases displayed in Africa/Lagos time

28 Jun 2011

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