By Ladun Williams
On April 25, 2012, I returned from the clinic where I was working as a cleaner. My husband asked that I should give him water to bathe before going to minister in the church. On my way to fetch the water at the backyard I saw five men in a tricycle riding towards our house. I stopped to see who was inside the Keke. Four out of the five occupants came down and ordered me to lead them inside the house. On getting to the sitting room, we met my husband praying. He was ordered to stop and all of us in the house, which included me, my husband, and my two daughters were all ordered to lie down. They told my husband that they were in our house to do God’s work. I started begging them because once they say they want to do God’s work, it means they want to kill. They turned their gun from facing my husband and pointed it at me and they threatened to kill me. I started pleading with them, but they won’t listen. At this time, my husband said I should not talk again and concentrate on praying. Suddenly, they started raining bullets on my husband until they ensured that he was dead. I started shouting and crying aloud, not minding that I could get killed as well. One of them used the butt of his gun to hit my right eye, which has remained blind up till now. My two daughters, Bintu, 9, and Baby, 7, started shouting and pleading with the killers not to kill me since they had already killed their father. The men seized the two girls by their clothes and went away. Up till this day, I have not set my eyes on any of the girls, whether dead or alive.
Right under my very eyes, my husband was shot dead, my two daughters taken away, and three months later, my 17-year-old son was shot dead by the same Boko Haram people…
We have been living in AYN, Bulukutu, Maiduguri all our lives but since it was obvious that my life and that of my remaining three children were in danger, we ran from our house, forcing us to now live like refugees in our land…
—- (Deborah Shettima, 48, Cleaner at a clinic in Bulukutu, Maiduguri, Nigeria).
Nigeria’s radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram, has killed hundreds and maimed many more in a reign of terror over the country that has lasted for years. It has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings, assassinations and massacres across the country, including the Christmas bombings in Madalla that claimed over 37 lives, the United Nations House bombing that claimed 26 lives, the Abuja Police Headquarters bombing, the assassinations of antagonistic clerics Imam Ibrahim Ahmed Abdullahi and Liman Bana, and massacres at Izghe, Mubi, College of Agriculture Gujba and a July 6th shooting spree at a school in Yobe state that claimed 42 lives. On Feb 25th the group killed at least 29 children at Federal Government College Buni Yadi and, on May 8th, over 300 people in Gamboru Ngala.
Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Mohammad Yusuf as a social movement. The Nigerian government began a crackdown on the group in response to reports that it was stock-piling weapons. In 2009 the police took Yusuf into custody.
He was killed.
The execution was recorded on video and went viral, sparking and fueling anger against the Nigerian authorities and radicalizing many in the country’s north. Boko Haram transmuted into a Jihadist group the same year.
Abubakar Shekau emerged as the group’s new leader, and launched a violent and sustained campaign of intimidation and terror against both the authorities in the country and its citizens.
The group demands Sharia rule in the north and a rejection of Western values, especially as symbolized by formal schooling. The group operates in cells, has splinter factions and links to Al-Qaeda. It is noted for targeting and killing school children.
Captured members of the group reportedly claim that their sponsors include groups and individuals in Saudi Arabia and the UK, including the World Islamic Society.
On April 14th over 276 schoolchildren, girls aged 16-18, converged at a girl’s school in Chibok to take their final examinations. Chibok is in Borno state, the group’s state of origin and stronghold, near the Cameroon-Chad border.
A large convoy of men dressed as soldiers arrived in the school and informed the girls they were soldiers, there to direct them to safety. The girls were ordered into trucks and carted off into Sambisa forest, a Boko Haram refuge. Although a few dozen girls managed to jump off the trucks to safety, the remaining girls have not been seen since.
Reports have emerged that the girls have been forced into marriage with members of the terrorist group, and that many have been carted off to Chad and Cameroon, which share borders with Nigeria.
The group’s leader posted a video on CNN in which he informed the world that the girls would be ‘sold’ as ‘slaves’.
The incident has sparked international outrage and worldwide condemnation. Protests were staged across the country and on London streets. Campaigns were launched on social networks, most notably Oby Ezekwezili’s #BringBackOurGirls on twitter. The campaigns have attracted supporters including Pope Francis, Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie, Piers Morgan and many others. The US, French, Chinese and British governments pledged their support, and help in tracking down the girls, whose whereabouts remained unknown.
Waiting for Government
President Goodluck Jonathan made his first public comment on the incident on May 4th, more than two weeks after the event, saying the government was doing its best to find the missing girls. He blamed the girls’ parents, saying they were not co-operating fully with the authorities. His wife, Patience, initially dismissed the kidnapping as a ‘staged’ affair to discredit her husband’s government. She later vowed to join in the Chibok public protests, even if she were ’shot’.
Why the delayed response from the government?
Saratu X, Team Leader of the Testimonials Archives Project, has a theory. TAP documents the lives of individuals affected by violence in Nigeria’s north-east. Saratu did not want her interviewer to reveal her surname. “This is not the first time abductions have happened,” she says. “This has been going on for half a decade. Boko Haram have had radical elements, which grew in prominence – and boldness – over the past three years, and it has been abducting girls ever since. If you read Human Rights Watch and Amnesty reports, you’ll read testimonies from young girls who talk about their ordeals. I’m sure our government knew this has been happening for years. So my guess is they figured: ‘What’s one more?’ They probably thought it would blow over.”
There is an international intelligence coalition working to locate the girls, a move Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka considers hopelessly overdue. Speaking during a recent interview he criticized the Nigerian government for its tardiness in asking for help in dealing with Boko Haram, saying the situation had long spiraled out of its control. He appealed to the international community for further assistance. The girls have now been missing for more than four weeks.
Celebrities, World leaders, some Islamic groups and many others have spoken up about the kidnapping and
expressed their support. These include Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie, Piers Morgan, Al Sharpton, Bob Geldof, Malala Yousafzai, Forrest Whittaker and many others.
What are Christian leaders doing about Boko Haram?
Alarmed at the incessant attacks on churches in Northern Nigeria by Boko Haram, on September 11, 2012 a group of US based Nigerian Christian leaders and professionals joined forces in New York city to birth The Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, (CANAN). Their mission is to bring an end to the terrorism of Christians by Boko Haram and to stir the interests of Nigerians in diaspora to what is happening in Nigeria. To date, CANAN has donated more than 50,000 dollars to some of the victims of Boko Haram.
Source of video: Christian Association of Nigerian Americans (CANAN) – http://www.cananusa.org.
For the most part, there has been silence from many renowned Christian leaders in the world.
|Timeline of Bokom Harem since 2010|
|7 September 2010||Bauchi prison break|
|31 December 2010||December 2010 Abuja attack|
|12 March 2011||Assassinated Muslim Cleric Imam Ibrahim Ahmed Abdullahi for criticizing the violent groups in northeast Nigeria|
|22 April 2011||Boko Haram frees 14 prisoners during a jailbreak in Yola, Adamawa State|
|29 May 2011||May 2011 northern Nigeria bombings|
|16 June 2011||The group claims responsibility for the 2011 Abuja police headquarters bombing|
|26 June 2011||Bombing attack on a beer garden in Maiduguri, leaving 25 dead and 12 injured|
|10 July 2011||Bombing at the All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja, Niger State|
|11 July 2011||The University of Maiduguri temporarily closes down its campus citing security concerns|
|12 August 2011||Prominent Muslim Cleric Liman Bana is shot dead by Boko Haram|
|26 August 2011||2011 Abuja bombing|
|4 November 2011||2011 Damaturu attacks|
|25 December 2011||December 2011 Nigeria bombings|
|5–6 January 2012||January 2012 Nigeria attacks|
|20 January 2012||January 2012 Kano bombings|
|28 January 2012||Nigerian army says it killed 11 Boko Haram insurgents|
|8 February 2012||Boko Haram claims responsibility for a suicide bombing at the army headquarters in Kaduna.|
|16 February 2012||Another prison break staged in central Nigeria; 119 prisoners are released, one warden killed.|
|8 March 2012||During a British hostage rescue attempt to free Italian engineer Franco Lamolinara and Briton Christopher McManus, abducted in 2011 by a splinter group Boko Haram, both hostages were killed.|
|31 May 2012||During a Joint Task Force raid on a Boko Haram den, it was reported that 5 sect members and a German hostage were killed.|
|3 June 2012||15 church-goers were killed and several injured in a church bombing in Bauchi state. Boku Haram claimed responsibility through spokesperson Abu Qaqa.|
|17 June 2012||Suicide bombers strike three churches in Kaduna State. At least 50 people were killed.|
|17 June 2012||130 bodies were found in Plateau State. It is presumed they were killed by Boko Haram members.|
|18 September 2012||Family of four murdered|
|18 September 2012||Murder of six at an outdoor party|
|19 September 2012||Nigerian Military arrest Boko Haram members, reported death of Abu Qaqa|
|3 October 2012||Around 25–46 people were massacred in the town of Mubi in Nigeria during a night-time raid.|
|18 March 2013||2013 Kano Bus bombing: At least 22 killed and 65 injured, when a suicide car bomb exploded in Kano bus station.|
|7 May 2013||At least 55 killed and 105 inmates freed in coordinated attacks on army barracks, a prison and police post in Bama town.|
|6 July 2013||Yobe State school shooting: 42 people, mostly students, were killed in a school attack in northeast Nigeria.|
|29 September 2013||College of Agriculture in Gujba: 40 students killed.|
|14 January 2014||At least 31 people killed, over 50 people injured by suicide bombing in Maiduguri, Borno State.|
|16 February 2014||Izghe massacre: 106 villagers are killed.|
|25 February 2014||Federal Government College attack: Fury at military over Yobe deaths. At least 29 teenage boys dead at Federal Government College Buni Yadi.|
|14 April 2014||2014 Chibok kidnapping: Government properties, including the only girls’ secondary school, attacked. At least 16 killed or missing, and 234 female students kidnapped.|
7 May Massacre at Gamboru Ngala 300 killed.
From Wiki and around the web.
Ladun Williams is a Nigerian based writer.