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Systematic religious cleansing: Nigerian Christians 2011-12

Testimonies

Systematic religious cleansing: Nigerian Christians 2011-12

“I was leading the congregation in prayers. Our eyes were closed when some gunmen stormed the church and opened fire on the congregation.”

Pastor Johnson Jauro’s wife was killed, along with at least seven other Christians, during an attack on his church in Gombe, capital of Gombe State in Northern Nigeria. This violent incident, which happened on 5

January 2012, was one in a torrent of systematic attacks on Christians in the North by militant Islamist group Boko Haram at the end of 2011 and start of 2012. On Christmas Day, 25 December 2011, they conducted a coordinated series of bomb and gun attacks on churches and other targets that left more than 40 people dead. Among them were around 35 worshippers at a church in Madalla, near the capital Abuja; they were killed as explosives were hurled at the congregation as they left the service.

On New Year’s Day (1 January 2012), Boko Haram, which wants to impose a version of sharia across Nigeria, gave Christians a three-day ultimatum to leave the North. As the deadline expired, attacks on Christians resumed. Ousman Adurkwa (65) and his son Moussa were shot dead in their home in Maiduguri, Borno State, on 4 January. Two days later, around 20 Christians were gunned down in Mubi, Adamawa State, as they gathered to mourn the death of another Christian who had been killed the night before. And on 11 January, four Christian men were killed in Potiskum town, Yobe State, as they were travelling southwards to join their families, who had already migrated to escape the violence. Church leaders, who held an emergency meeting about the attacks, said that the killings suggested “systematic ethnic and religious cleansing”.

O Prince of Glory,

who dost bring Thy sons

to glory through the Cross,

Let us not shrink from suffering

Reproach or loss.

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Originally published in Heroes of Our Faith by Patrick Sookhdeo, Isaac Publishing