Wednesday, January 4, 2012

140. Nigeria: Boko Haram threatens Christians

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 140 | Wed 04 Jan 2012

- the battle for Nigeria.

By Elizabeth Kendal

Boko Haram -- also known as the 'Nigerian Taliban' -- was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's most north-eastern state, Borno. The group demands the complete Islamisation of all Nigeria. After their leader, Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf, died in police custody on 31 July 2009, Boko Haram declared jihad on the state. In June 2010 Boko Haram formalised its ties with al-Qaeda which has long sought strategic depth in sub-Saharan Africa and a foothold in Nigeria. Since then, Boko Haram has been sending militants to Somalia for military training under al-Shabaab and escalating, intensifying and expanding its terror campaign.

Vowing to render Nigeria 'ungovernable', Boko Haram targets anything that does not support its fundamentalist Islamist ends and jihadist means: universities, police, secular courts, Christian churches and even liberal mosques. On 16 June 2011 Boko Haram perpetrated Nigeria's first ever suicide bombing, killing eight and wounding dozens at Police Headquarters in the federal capital, Abuja. In August they followed that up with a suicide bombing at the UN headquarters in Abuja, killing 25. Throughout 2011, citizens have been fleeing Borno in large numbers to escape the gun battles, assassinations and terrorism that have become a near-constant phenomenon there. Despite all this, the Nigerian government has been reluctant to treat the threat seriously. While the federal government has been equivocating, Boko Haram's projection of strength has been winning it popular support from radicalised Muslims amongst the masses and in the military. (Background:The Boko Haram Threat)

On Christmas Day 2011 Boko Haram bombed two churches: one on the outskirts of the federal capital Abuja and one in the volatile Middle-belt city of Jos. The car bomb that exploded in the car park of St Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Niger State, just 29km from Abuja, was massive. At least 42 were killed, most incinerated by the massive fireball that consumed 17 vehicles. Dozens were seriously wounded. About the same time, a suicide bomber attacked the Yobe State Command Headquarters of the Department of State Security Services (SSS) in Damaturu, killing three. Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, was subsequently slammed for his lame response quoted in Vanguard 25 Dec 2011: 'The issue of bombing is one of the burdens we must live with,' he said. 'It will not last forever.' (Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had the same lame response to the unconstitutional implementation of Sharia law across the north.) On Friday 30 December four Muslims died in Maiduguri when a bomb planted by Boko Haram exploded outside their mosque after Friday prayers. By the next day, President Jonathan had closed Nigeria's borders with Chad and Niger Republic and declared a state of emergency in 15 hard-hit local government areas of Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Niger states, sending tanks and soldiers to patrol the streets.

Boko Haram has responded to the state of emergency by upping the ante. On Monday 2 January 2012 Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa issued a statement that southern Christians living in the north -- particularly those in the north-eastern states of Borno and Yobe -- had three days to leave or face further violence. Boko Haram says it is prepared to confront the Nigerian military, which it claims is only interested in killing innocent Muslims. Many believe Boko Haram is keen to trigger a religious civil war that would attract international jihadists who themselves have a strategic interest in Nigeria.


* churches and individual Christians across Nigeria will respond with radical faith: not as the world does, by putting faith in weapons, money or might, but by crying with one voice to the LORD who gives strength and wisdom and deliverance (Psalm 34). 'Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death' (Psalm 68:20 ESV). 'It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes' (Psalm 118:9 ESV).

* God will intervene in Nigeria to end the terror, expose the falsehood of Islam and deliver his people from evil. May the wicked who plot evil against the Church be snared in the work of their own hands (Psalm 9:15,16) and repent and turn to the LORD; may God be glorified (Galatians 1:23,24).


Since formally linking with al-Qaeda in June 2010, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has intensified and expanded its jihad against the state, vowing to render Nigeria 'ungovernable'. Christians have been hit hard. On Christmas Day 2011 a massive car bomb exploded outside St Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Niger State, just 29km from the federal capital Abuja. At least 42 were killed, most incinerated by the massive fireball that consumed 17 vehicles. A state of emergency has been declared with tanks and troops now patrolling 15 of the most hard-hit local government areas. Boko Haram responded by giving southerners and Christians three days to leave the north or face more violence. The battle for Nigeria has begun -- please pray for Christians, the Church and the nation.