Tuesday, September 3, 2019

RLPB 518. Nigeria: Land of Perpetual Trauma

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 518 | 04 Sep 2019
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-- includes two critical updates

by Elizabeth Kendal

UPDATE 1) At around 1 am on 14 August Muslim Fulani herdsmen kidnapped Emmanuel Noma [or Numan] and his 60-year-old father, Pastor Elisha Noma of Nagarta Baptist Church in Makiri, Kaduna State. Emmanuel was subsequently released with the demand that he raise the ransom for his father [see last week's RLPB 517 (28 Aug)]. Praise God, on Saturday 31 August Pastor Elisha was released unharmed after payment of ransom following a series of negotiations. The family paid the ransom, explaining, 'We have been in trauma since he was kidnapped ...' The Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Joseph Hayab, responded with joy and lament, saying, 'We thank God for His mercies, we pray for God's intervention in the calamity that seems to have befallen us as a nation.'

Leah Sharibu
UPDATE 2) In February 2018 Boko Haram kidnapped 110 teenage girls from a school in Dapchi, Yobe State. Five girls died during the abduction. A month later, the militants returned the girls, all except Leah Sharibu. The only Christian, Leah was held back because she refused to renounce Christ [see RLPB 448 (28 Mar 2018)]. On 18 July 2019 Boko Haram captured six aid workers from the charity Action Against Hunger. In a proof-of-life video, Christian captive Grace Taku appealed for help stressing that Christian captives Leah Sharibu and Alice Loksha Ngaddah 'were killed because the government did nothing' [see RLPB 513 (31 Jul 2019)]. Praise God, on Saturday 31 August a senior presidential aide addressed journalists in Abuja to end speculation that Leah Sharibu is dead. 'Contrary to false reports, she is alive -- given assurances from our security agencies -- and the government is committed to her safe return, as well as all other hostages to their families...' Meanwhile, the captives and their families remain deeply traumatised.

On 2 September, at the end of an official two week visit to Nigeria, UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard told reporters that the situation she encountered in Nigeria 'gives rise to extreme concern'. In her reports she describes Africa's largest state as 'an injustice pressure-cooker', adding that the 'warning signs are flashing bright red'. She laments that mass killings proceed with impunity, that trust in public institutions has broken down and, consequently, people are increasingly taking matters into their own hands. She warns that 'pretending this is anything short of a crisis is a major mistake'. The administration of illegitimate president Muhammadu Buhari does not seem too concerned. Instead, Nigeria's lawmakers -- who already earn one of the highest salaries in the world -- have agreed to spend 5.55 billion naira (roughly US$15.3 million) buying luxury cars for senators. This, in a country with the highest rate of poverty in the world! [Nigeria has more people living in poverty (87 million; nearly 50 percent of the population) than does in India (71.5 million),  despite India having seven times the population of Nigeria!] This, in a country with insecurity at crisis levels due predominantly to systemic high-level corruption (e.g., 'Armsgate'). Lord have mercy!

On Friday 30 August Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked a military convoy in the Lake Chad area of north-east Borno State. Two trucks hit by rocket propelled grenades were totally destroyed. Eight Nigerian soldiers were killed, five are missing and weapons were stolen. Attacks like this occur every other day! Nigerian soldiers are over-stretched, under-supplied and demoralised, bordering on mutinous.

Boko Haram's Cameroonian victims.
Courtesy: Aid to the Church in Need
On Monday night 29 July Boko Haram fighters struck with a new terror tactic. A band of jihadists slipped into the Christian village of Gagalari in Yagoua Diocese, in Cameroon's Far North region. They had come to punish women who had allegedly passed information to the Multinational Joint Task Force assembled to fight the jihadists. Going house to house, the jihadists seized eight women whom they dragged to the outskirts of the town. Before releasing the women, they sliced one ear off each. Cameroonian soldiers found the women and took them for medical treatment. The women, their families and their community are deeply traumatised.


* intervene in Nigeria to raise up a government committed to peace, justice and righteousness, for the sake of the Church and all Nigeria's needy peoples. May the Lord have mercy!

Should the Lord not pity Nigeria, that great nation, in which there are more than 190 million persons, many of whom do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle? (Adapted from Jonah 4:11.)

* fan the flames of faith in God which are rising up among a people rapidly losing faith in government; may Nigerian Christians in every town, city and state, and across the North-South divide, join together in prayer for divine deliverance from 'the calamity' that has befallen their nation.

* redeem the suffering and trauma, and turn it to good, may eyes be opened and hearts softened to receive the Gospel and may the Church take her place as peace-maker, healer and 'repairer of the breach' (from Isaiah 58).

Prayer for Nigeria: Psalm 94


Oil-rich Nigeria is the largest nation on the African continent. Home to 190 million Nigerians, it is fast becoming a failed state due to government ineptitude, systemic corruption and escalating insecurity. The Christian crisis in the Muslim North and mixed Middle Belt is spreading into the Christian South-East. Mass killings -- mostly of Christians by militant Muslims -- continue with impunity. Trust in public institutions has broken down and people are increasingly taking matters into their own hands. Christians live under constant threat of Islamic terror causing death and displacement; whole communities are traumatised. Meanwhile, the government of illegitimate president Muhammadu Buhari does virtually nothing to help, preferring to focus on enriching itself. Please pray that the Lord will intervene to raise up a government committed to peace, justice and righteousness.


Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF) and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).

See www.ElizabethKendal.com