Tuesday, July 6, 2021

RLPB 605. Nigeria: Terror Strikes Kaduna (Again)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 605 | Wed 07 Jul 2021
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NIGERIA: TERROR STRIKES KADUNA (AGAIN)
Plus update on Ethiopia
by Elizabeth Kendal

Bethel Baptist High School, 5 July 2021.
(Image: Kehinde Gbenga / AFP) 

Located on the south-eastern outskirts of Kaduna city in the Maraban Rido community, Chikun Local Government Area, Bethel Baptist High School caters for some 180 students, around 165 of whom are boarders. It was established in 1991 by Kaduna's Bethel Baptist Church, a member of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. In the early hours of Monday morning 5 July, a large contingent of armed Fulani bandits breached the walls and overpowered security. Whilst up to 25 students managed to escape, the rest were taken captive and carried off into the bush. On Tuesday 6 July, the bandits informed the school that they had 121 students in their custody, and all were in 'good condition'. Their whereabouts remain unknown. As the news broke, parents rushed to the school where they wailed and prayed for the return of their children. It was the fourth mass school kidnapping in Kaduna State since December 2020. Shortly afterwards, bandits also attempted a mass kidnapping at the nearby Faith Academy, a secondary school belonging to the Living Faith Church Worldwide. The bandits managed to breach the perimeter fence, only to be repelled by soldiers.

A distraught parent
prays at the site, 5 July.
(Image: Vincent Bodam
for Morning Star News.)

The Kaduna State Government immediately ordered the closure of 13 schools it identified as 'vulnerable', including Bethel Baptist High School, Faith Academy, Deeper Life Academy, ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) Secondary School, St Peter's Minor Seminary, Goodnews Secondary School, St Augustine and Adventist College. Faith Academy's school management plans to relocate some students to an undisclosed location where they can 'continue with the preparation for their exams'.

Previously, in the early hours of Sunday 4 July, Fulani bandits attacked a Divisional Police Headquarters in the Saye area of Zaria Town, 80km north of Kaduna. A firefight ensued, but it seems this was only a distraction, for close by, in a simultaneous attack, bandits raided the staff quarters of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Training Centre, Zaria Town. The bandits broke in, firing indiscriminately, before escaping with eight hostages, comprised of staff - including a nurse with her infant child - and a security guard. It was the third time the training hospital had been attacked.

Twelve months ago, terrorism analyst Jacob Zenn warned that if jihadist groups get a foothold among the Fulani in the North West, then nothing 'will prevent their continued expansion until northern Nigeria becomes overwhelmed' [see RLPB 562, Insecurity Enables Terrorist Expansion (12 Aug 2020)]. 

Infographic by Daily Trust.
(click on image to enlarge)

Now, Nigeria's Daily Trust reports (28 June) that Boko Haram, Ansaru and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 'are competing with one another in a mass membership drive among the ranks of bandits terrorising most of the North West and part of North Central states ... Locals, security sources and experts who spoke with our reporter said the push is already yielding fruits for the insurgent groups with some prominent bandits declaring allegiance to the terrorist groups or consenting to a close working relationship; sharing intelligence and logistics support among themselves. States worst hit by the intractable rural banditry are: Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi. The states share boundaries and are easily navigated through large swathes of unmanned forests ... For a long time, security sources said Boko Haram, ISWAP and Ansaru have been [active in the region] with the aim of benefiting from the chaos created by bandits, especially in the worst-hit states.' A recently published ISWAP propaganda video shows ex-Boko Haram fighters pledging allegiance to ISWAP, whose spokesman vows to 'not relent in our effort to fight the kuffar' (unbelievers: i.e. all non-Muslims plus any Muslim who disagrees with the jihadists).

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* intervene in Northern Nigeria and rescue, alive and well, the children of Bethel Baptist High School, along with all other captives being held by jihadists in Northern Nigeria. Lord, we lift our hands to you for the lives of our children (see Lamentations 2:18-19 ESV).

* protect his Church both physically and spiritually. May our God the Almighty be a shield and fortress to his people; may he sustain them in their suffering and provide their every need. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may Nigeria's persecuted and long-suffering Church have grace to keep on loving their Muslim neighbours, bearing witness to the God of all grace, Nigeria's only hope.

* awaken Nigerian elites to the need for constitutional reform as a means to tackle gross insecurity; may the police force be de-centralised and may the prohibition on state and local police forces be removed, so state governments can provide security to citizens under their jurisdiction.


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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NIGERIA: 
TERROR IN KADUNA

In the early hours of Monday 5 July, armed Fulani bandits attacked Bethel Baptist High School on the south-eastern outskirts of Kaduna. Of the school's 165 boarders, up to 25 managed to escape, whilst at least 140 were taken captive and carried off into the bush. Shortly afterwards, bandits attacked the nearby Faith Academy, only this time they were repelled by soldiers. Just 24 hours earlier, bandits had attacked a training hospital in Zaria, 80km north of Kaduna, taking eight hostages, including an infant. The Kaduna state government has deemed 13 schools 'vulnerable' and ordered them to be closed; more than half are Christian schools. Terrorism analysts suspect Islamic jihadist groups are recruiting or co-opting Fulani bandits to advance their aims. Please pray.

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UPDATE on ETHIOPIA

Details are emerging of the events of 28 June which saw the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) - the Marxist organisation that dominated, terrorised and robbed Ethiopia for three decades - regain control of Mekelle (the Tigray capital). The TPLF's boast that it had routed the far superior Ethiopian military, is nothing but a lie. As it turns out, on 28 June, the Ethiopian government announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew Tigray's interim administration from Mekelle, paving the way for the TLPF to retake Mekelle essentially uncontested. The TPLF rejected the ceasefire and vowed to continue fighting until all government troops are driven from Tigray and all territorial losses are reversed (which is not going to happen). After being paraded through the streets, some 6000 captured Ethiopian troops were imprisoned in Tigray.

According to Gregory Copley (Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, 2 July) it seems Prime Minister Abiy 'gave in to immense pressure from the US government, which had threatened to propose - through the UN Security Council - an armed intervention in Ethiopia to stop an "humanitarian crisis” in the region ... What is significant,' Copley adds, 'is that there has been no independent verification of the claims of Ethiopian and Eritrean government atrocities against the Tigrean people.' [NOTE: The TPLF has long enjoyed a privileged relationship with the US government, which is just as capable as any 'Great Power' of unprincipled pragmatism in pursuit of interests.]

As Stratfor (geopolitical intelligence) notes (1 July), the TPLF victory in Tigray 'risks triggering more conflict elsewhere in the country, placing both Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's political future and his economic reform plans in peril ... The conflict in Ethiopia will likely worsen over the coming months'.

A detailed analysis will be posted on the Religious Liberty Monitoring blog in coming days.

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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