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NIGERIA: Three Years of Agony for Chibok Parents

NIGERIA: Three Years of Agony for Chibok Parents

For the families of the 195 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped from their dormitories three years ago, grief and despair have been compounded by fear, as the perpetrators of their agony continue to terrorise their town and carry out further abductions with impunity.

Since Boko Haram jihadists abducted 276 girls from their secondary school in the town of Chibok, in the north-eastern state of Borno, 23 parents have now died of heart disease while many continue to battle stress-related conditions.

While 81 of the girls have escaped or been rescued, it is believed that their captors, who initially boasted that they would sell them as slaves, have decided to hold on to their victims after realising how valuable their high profile has made them. As a result, more than two thirds of the girls are still missing.

UNICEF has just reported a sharp rise in the number of children forced to carry out suicide attacks, up from 30 last year to 27 in the first three months of 2017.

The agency added that Boko Haram’s abduction of children, of which the Chibok girls are the best-known example, is “systematic” and is “fuelling” its insurgency in the Lake Chad region. The kidnapped girls are typically forced into early marriage and sexual slavery. One Chibok girl who escaped last May said six of the remaining captives had died. UNICEF also voiced concern at the prolonged detention of 1,499 children after their rescue last year, when they were held while the authorities investigated them for jihadist sympathies.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, pledged to bring the girls home but have met with little success, partly due to a weak and mistrusted army.

A spokeswoman for the charity Open Doors, who visited Chibok last week, said some parents now hoped their children were dead, rather than having to endure captivity at the hands of Boko Haram.

“For three long years, the parents have waited, hoped and prayed for answers about their daughters,” she said. “There has been maddening speculation about their daughters’ fate. Death is not the worst thing they fear. Some days they hope their daughters have entered the presence of Jesus, rather than face one more day at the hands of brutal men who consider abuse of women their just reward and privilege for fighting what they believe to be Allah’s battle.”

Yakubu Nkeki Maina, a representative of the Chibok parents and whose 18-year-old daughter, Maimuna was kidnapped said, “We feel deceived by the government. Promises are made publicly but nothing is done to make this promise a reality. We are subjected to sleepless nights and pain (in our) hearts, which increases by the day. We feel cheated. It seems that we cannot count on the government. We look up to God, who is able to come to our rescue.”

The release of 21 girls last October briefly gave hope to the Chibok families and to Christians across north-east Nigeria, who have been terrorised by Boko Haram for almost eight years. However, the girls have been detained since their release and allowed to see their parents only a handful of times.

Residents of Chibok are still fearful because Boko Haram has recently attacked nearby towns, and scores of families have been displaced to Mbalala, three miles from Chibok. There is a heavy military presence in Chibok, and three of the town’s 13 schools have partially reopened. Parents are terrified of sending their children back to school in case Boko Haram strikes again, and church activities are carried out under heavy security

Source: World Watch Monitor, Assist News Service

  • Ask the Lord to have mercy on these families and the many others whose loved ones are missing at the hands of militants. Pray for news, ask for families to be reunited.
  • Pray for action from the government. May they be unified, strong and with God’s leading, liberate the captives, secure communities and bring perpetrators to justice. Pray they may be wise in dealing with victims who have been released.
  • May so much suffering not be in vain, ask the Lord to bring good from evil.
Please Remember Her Name

Please Remember Her Name

More than two years ago, I was handed a slip of paper with the name “Nguba Buba” on it.

Nguba Buba. Remember her name, please.

Nguba Buba was one of the 276 girls kidnapped on 14 April 2014 by Boko Haram militants who stormed her school in Chibok, Nigeria. She was a young girl, a 16-year-old who attended church and loved Jesus. When she was kidnapped, she was ripped away from her studies, her potential to take her exams, and to go to college.

Nguba is one of more than 2,000 children stolen from their parents by Islamic militants since 2014. Many of the boys were armed and forced to shoot people, some from their own villages. Those who refuse were killed. The girls were forced to convert to Islam, compelled to become servants, used as prostitutes, and married off to their captors; often, men old enough to be their fathers.

Nguba was forced at gunpoint to get onto a truck in the middle of the night. They drove for hours into the Sambisa Forest under the cover of darkness. During the ride, around 50 of the girls managed to jump off and escape.

The 219 remaining stayed in Boko Haram custody. Many were advocating on their behalf and the campaign #BringBackOurGirls attracted huge amounts of attention. The government negotiated for their return, with no results.

As time passed, fewer and fewer people remembered Nguba and her friends.

Their grieving parents began succumbing to stress-related illnesses. At least 18 died of these illnesses. Another three died in Islamist attacks. In 2015, Boko Haram would use 44 stolen children as suicide bombers, many of them young girls like Nguba.

In May 2016, one of the 219 was discovered. After escaping, she arrived at home with a 4-month-old baby, the child of a Boko Haram fighter.

On 13 October, parents and relatives finally had something to celebrate. Negotiations had finally been successful, and 21 of the girls were freed. Nguba was not among them. No one really knows her fate. There are 114 Chibok girls who are unaccounted for. Some are believed to have been killed. Others may wish to stay with their abductors.

Please remember Nguba’s name. Remember that she was once a schoolgirl who planned to finish her exams at Chibok. She was a Christian. She had parents and siblings and a hope for the future that was stolen. Remember that she and each of the other 2,000 other children who were stolen still need your prayers.

The names of the 21 girls who have been released thus far:

  1. Mary Usman Bulama
  2. Jummai John
  3. Blessing Abana
  4. Luggwa Sanda
  5. Comfort Habila
  6. Maryam Basheer
  7. Comfort Amos
  8. Glory Mainta
  9. Saratu Emmanuel
  10. Deborah Ja’afaru
  11. Rahab Ibrahim
  12. Helin Musa
  13. Mayamu Lawan
  14. Rebecca Ibrahim
  15. Asabe Goni
  16. Deborah Andrawus
  17. Agnes Gapani
  18. Saratu Markus
  19. Glory Dama
  20. Pindah Nuhu
  21. Rebecca Mallam

 Ann Kay writes for VOM USA.

NIGERIA: Happy to ‘Be Back’ But Talk of Captivity

NIGERIA: Happy to ‘Be Back’ But Talk of Captivity

The released 21 Chibok girls met President Buhari at his villa in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja on 19 October.

The girls released by Boko Haram the week before, met President Buhari to thank him personally for his part in their release. Addressing a crowd at the presidential villa, one of the girls, Rebecca Mallum, burst into song. She later said: “We are happy to see this wonderful day because we didn’t know we would come back to be members of Nigeria. Let us thank God for his love”.

 Some of the girls said they plan to return to school – Boko Haram translates in the local Hausa language as ‘Western education is a sin’.

On their release one girl revealed more about life in captivity, said a parent who wished to remain anonymous. The parent said that one of the girls had refused to marry a Boko Haram fighter and was told she would be killed. In the end she was given 100 lashes.

The girls have been undergoing intense psychological evaluations at a medical facility in the capital, Abuja.

Negations are underway to secure the release of a further 83 girls. It is reported around 100 girls don’t want to leave their kidnappers because they are now married or have been radicalised.

Source: World Watch Monitor, CNN

Prayer Points

  • Thank the Lord for the release of the 21 girls and the prospect of freedom for many more. Pray for President Buhari and all those involved in the negations.
  • Ask the Lord to bring His healing and restoration to these girls to help them overcome the trauma they have suffered. Pray He may strengthen the faith of these girls and their families.
  • Pray for those who either fear or are unwilling to leave their captors. Ask the Lord to minister to them and their families.
NIGERIA: Eight Killed as Terrorists Seize Chibok villages

NIGERIA: Eight Killed as Terrorists Seize Chibok villages

Please pray for our Christian family in Chibok in northern Nigeria after Islamist extremists Boko Haram struck again. The terrorists took over three villages near Chibok town in Borno state last Monday.

At least eight people, including a village elder, were reported to have been killed. The attackers have hoisted their flag around these villages.

Many families in the area are still waiting in agony for news of more than 200 girls who were snatched from a Christian school in Chibok town in April 2014. Though one girl was rescued in May, almost all of those seized by Boko Haram remain missing.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has called on the UN to mediate with the militants. Buhari has said he is prepared to arrange a swap, freeing extremists in jail in return for the girls’ release.

Sources: BBC, Release International

  • Please pray that God will comfort and heal all those injured and bereaved in this recent attack.
  • Pray for the immediate release of the girls abducted from Chibok. Pray that they will know God’s presence, His love and His healing power.
  • Pray for wisdom for President Buhari and the Nigerian Government as they work to free the Chibok girls and defeat Boko Haram. Pray that God will give them courage and determination to tackle this terrorist threat.
NIGERIA: Boys Forced to Become Child Soldiers

NIGERIA: Boys Forced to Become Child Soldiers

The world was horrified when the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in 2014. But less coverage has been given to the kidnapping of more than 10,000 boys over the last three years by the terror group and their brutal coercion tactics, forcing children to wage jihad.

The allegations are contained in a stunning investigative report by Drew Hinshaw and Joe Parkinson in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Shortly after the Chibok schoolgirls were seized, Boko Haram attacked six villages in the nearby mountains and rounded up children there, with little media coverage beyond the Nigerian press.

A few months later, the group captured the town of Damasak and took 300 students, mostly boys, aged 7 to 17. The militants imprisoned them in a school. Their parents were held in separate rooms. For months, the children were forced to learn the Koran. Eventually, Boko Haram ditched the parents and fled with the children.

In the forest outside Maiduguri, Boko Haram ran one of their boot camps for boys. Children as young as five years old learned to handle assault rifles and practise marching. Their weapon instructor was only 15 himself.

“I was terrified if I didn’t do it, they would kill me,” the teen instructor told the WSJ. He was kidnapped by the radical group in 2014 but later escaped.

The WSJ interviewed 16 young Nigerians who escaped the snare of Boko Haram, along with other witnesses, soldiers, researchers, officials and diplomats in Nigeria and Cameroon. The boys were sent into battle, often unarmed, frequently numbed by drugs. Many of the boys were beaten and some died of starvation or thirst.

Source: Assist News Service, International Christian Concern

 Prayer Points

  • Pray the Lord will rescue these abducted and abused boys. May they find Jesus to be their healer and deliverer.
  • Pray that parents would be given extra wisdom and love to care for boys who escape and return home.
  • Pray the Lord will intervene to bring an end to the unrest; pray He will grant wisdom and direction to the government, military and police as they try to rescue captives and stop the violence of Boko Haram.