The Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has reported that Boko Haram terrorists carried out over “fifty different attacks on different communities between the end of 2019 to June 2020,” most of which were “unreported or under reported by both the print and electronic media.”
In a statement read out on 2 July by EYN National President Reverend Joel Billi during a press conference in Yola Adamawa, the Church also revealed that over 700,000 church members have been displaced, eight pastors and over 8,370 lay people have been killed, and an unknown number of people have been abducted by the terrorist factions. “Only seven out of 60 District Church Councils […] were not directly affected by the insurgency.”
The EYN is the largest Christian denomination in northeast Nigeria, where the Boko Haram factions operate. Consequently, it is the denomination most impacted by terrorist violence. 217 of the 276 school girls abducted from their school in Chibok in April 2014 are EYN members, and over 300 of the denomination’s 586 churches have been either burnt or destroyed, “with uncountable numbers of houses belonging to our members looted or burnt.”
In his Democracy Day speech on 12 June, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that the former inhabitants of local government areas (LGAs) previously overrun by Boko Haram had long since been able to return to them. Describing this assertion as “unfortunate, misleading and demoralizing,” the EYN President clarified that the four EYN District Church Councils (DCCs) which existed in the Gwoza LGA of Borno State prior to the insurgency are no longer there. “There are over 18,000 of our members who are still taking refuge in Minawao, Cameroon. There are also about 7000 of EYN members who are taking refuge in other IDP Camps in Cameroon […].” While some people have returned to Gwoza town and Pulka, “the total number of IDPs in the Cameroon Camps, who are over 95% from Gwoza, is over 47,000.” Additionally, 34 villages in southern Borno and northern Adamawa are currently deserted due to repeated attacks by Boko Haram.
While the statement commends “the renewed zeal” of the security forces in tackling Boko Haram, it also calls on the Federal Government and the State Governments of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to rescue the remaining Chibok Girls “as matter of urgency,” and appeals to the Federal Government to rescue Leah Sharibu, Alice Ngaddah, “and others abducted by Boko Haram factions.”
The statement urges President Buhari to deploy “at least a battalion of military to the deserted areas behind the Gwoza Hills” in order to facilitate the return of refugees, and to send “more security personnel to volatile areas to mitigate further attacks.” Other calls are that the government should reconstruct and rehabilitate homes, schools and houses of worship destroyed by the insurgents, and make plans for the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the end of 2020.
The statement also addresses the high levels of insecurity prevailing throughout the country, urging the government “to live up to its constitutional responsibility” by bringing “the continuous killings, abductions, rape and all forms of criminality” to an end, and to urgently address “the activities of Fulani Militia, Armed Bandits and Kidnappers terrorizing our communities.” It further implores State and Federal Governments “to ensure that Christian Religious Studies (CRS) is taught in public schools” in northern states where this is not occurring, and the “immediate reversal and correction of the imbalance in most appointments” by the president, which “have always been skewed to favour a particular section and religion.”
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “The Boko Haram factions continue to be responsible for the most appalling violence in northeast Nigeria on an almost daily basis. However, aside from particularly appalling incidents that garner international attention, the majority of these attacks go unreported and unnoticed. Both local and international media outlets must do more to report on the violence which is unfolding across Nigeria. We are deeply saddened by the suffering endured by the EYN and its members, and echo its calls on the Nigerian government to take immediate action to mitigate and address attacks by all non-state actors. We also reiterate our call to Nigeria’s international allies to encourage the government in its efforts to tackle every source of the violence effectively, including by offering technical assistance and humanitarian support to those who have been displaced or otherwise affected.”
Note to editors:
1. A sample of unreported attacks since December 2019:
· On 25 December 2019 Boko Haram attacked the Bagajau community in Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State, killing nine Christians. Among them were Damjuda Dalihis, his two children and their friends, who were burnt alive in their room. Other victims included Daniel Wadzani, Ijuptil Chinampi, Jarafu Daniel, Peter Usman, Ahijo Yampaya, Medugu Auta and Waliya Achaba.
· On 29 December 2019 18 Christians were abducted following an attack on the Mandaragirau community in Biu LGA, Borno State, in which the church building, primary school and foodstuffs were destroyed. The oldest abductee was Esther Buto, 42, and the youngest was Saraya Musa.
· On 18 January 2020 Boko Haram attacked Kwaragilum village in Chibok LGA, Borno State, and abducted female EYN members Esther Yakubu, Charity Yakubu, Comfort Ishaya, Deborah Ishaya, Gera Bamzir and Jabbe Numba.
· On 27 January 2020 the Tur Community of Madagali LGA, Adamawa State, was attacked and the homes of 10 EYN members were looted and burnt.
· On 2 February 2020 all three EYN Churches were burnt down during an attack on the Leho community of Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State.
· On 20 February 2020 Boko Haram overran the Tabang community in Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State, abducting a 9-year-old boy, injuring a female EYN member, and burning down the homes of 17 EYN members.
· On 21 February 2020 the Garkida community, the birthplace of the EYN, was attacked and the first EYN Church was burnt down, along with an Anglican and a Living Faith church building. Additionally, the EYN Brethren College of Health Technology, the EYN Rural Health Department and its vehicles, and prominent Christian homes and shops were looted and burnt, and Mr Emmanuel Bitrus Tarfa was abducted.
· On 29 February 2020 four Muslims, two Christians and a soldier were killed during an attack on the Rumirgo community in Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State.
· On 1 March 2020 Boko Haram attacked Rumirgo in Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State, once again, and left with a truck loaded with foodstuffs.
· On 3 April 2020 Boko Haram attacked Kuburmbula and Kwamtiyahi villages in Chibok LGA, Borno State, burning down 20 homes and abducting and subsequently murdering Meshack John, Mutah Nkeki and Kabu Yakubu.
· On 5 April 2020 Boko Haram attacked Mussa Bri in Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State, looting and burning Christian-owned shops belonging to Samuel Kambasaya, Yuguda Ijasini and Matiyu Buba.
· On 7 April 2020 the Wamdeo community in Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State, was overrun by Boko Haram terrorists, who burnt two vehicles, burgled stores and killed five people, including Ndaska Akari, Yunana Maigari and a security guard at the EYN clinic named Pur Thlatiryu.
· On 6 May 2020 Boko Haram attacked the Debiro, Dakwiama and Tarfa communities in Biu LGA, Borno State, killing Mr Audu Bata, destroying two of the villages along with several houses in Tarfa, and burning down two EYN Churches.
· On 12 May 2020 Boko Haram once again attacked Mussa Bri in Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State, killing Luka Bitrus and inflicting machete wounds on Mrs Ijaduwa Shaibu.
· On 30 May 2020 terrorists attempted to annihilate an entire family in Kwabila village in Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State. Dauda Bello, Baba Ya’u and a woman named Kawan Bello were killed, while Aisha Bello, Rufa’i Bello and Amina Bello were hospitalised with injuries sustained during the attack.
· On 2 June 2020 Boko Haram returned to Kwabila village and killed Bello Saleh, the head of his household, injuring Amina Bello, who died later in hospital.
· On 7 June 2020 Kidlindila community of Askira/Uba LGA, Borno State witnessed the abduction of woman named Indagju Apagu, while a man named Wana Aboye was injured, a car was stolen, and several houses were looted
· On 16 June 2020 Boko Haram attacked Mbulabam in Chibok LGA, Borno State, abducting a young girl named Mary Ishaku Nkeke. Her brothers Emmanuel and Iliya went missing for three days.
· On 17 June 2020 Boko Haram attacked the Kautikari community in Chibok LGA, Borno State, killing Mr Yusuf Joel, 30, Mr Musa Dawa, 25, and Mr Jacob Dawa, 35. Five women and girls belonging to EYN were abducted: Martha Yaga, 22, Mary Filibus, 13, Saratu Saidu, 22, Eli Augustine, 21, and Saratu Yaga, 20.
· On 22 June 2020 Boko Haram attacked the Kautikari community in Chibok LGA once again, killing Bira Bazam, 48, and Ba Maina Madu, 62; and abducting Laraba Bulama, 20, Hauwa Bulama, 18, and Maryamu Yohanna, 15.
· June ended with a terrorist attack on farmers in Nasarawo, Kautikari, Chibok LGA, in which Mr Zaramai Kubirvu, 40, was killed.