Courtesy of the CIA World Factbook
Northeast Nigeria has again suffered terrorist-type violence since Friday, Nov. 4, when attacks blamed on the Boko Haram sect began targeting government facilities like police stations and a military base, along with shops, churches, and mosques. As of last week, the Red Cross has said at least 100 people have been killed.
“Pray for peace and safety in Nigeria,” said a note of condolence from Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office. “Our condolences to the family of Jinatu Libra Wamdeo, general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, whose wife’s brother was killed at a road block on his way home from work in Sokoto State.” At least one church of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has been burned.
US Brethren currently serving in Nigeria are Carol Smith and Nathan and Jennifer Hosler. In addition, videographer David Sollenberger was in Nigeria documenting peace activities when the new wave of violence broke out.
Boko Haram, a Muslim militant group, has the goal to establish a state based on Sharia or Islamic law in northern Nigeria, according to a CNN report, which added that the US embassy issued a warning to Americans living in Nigeria that more Boko Haram attacks might be imminent during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The holiday is called Sallah in Nigeria and this year was held Nov. 6-9.
Following are excerpts from an e-mail report by Jauro Markus Gamache, EYN administrator for partner relations, who accompanied Sollenberger as he traveled to film in places in central and northeast Nigeria affected by previous episodes of violence:
“Dear brothers and sisters, many greetings from Nigeria.
“The Church of the Brethren in America sent a camera man to interview people about peace among the two faiths in Nigeria and also film places that were destroyed…. His visit and documentation will be a very good resource for the church and our society.
“Prior to Sallah celebration many places were attacked by the Muslim sect Boko Haram and some killings and destruction again in towns like Kwaya Kusar in Borno State, Damaturu in Yobe State, Maiduguri the capital of Borno State.
“For those who have been to Nigeria, Kwaya Kusar is on the way to Biu while coming from Jos. It is just on the main road. On Thursday the 3rd of November we were there to interview the pastor and to film the destroyed EYN properties by the sect in April. That same night after we left the town was attacked again by the sect and burnt police station completely. There was no report of life or churches destroyed in this recent attack.
“Damaturu, the state capital of Yobe State, was also attacked on Friday evening. About 15 people lost their lives and some churches burned down including an EYN church in that town (which has) been destroyed. The pastor of the church and his family including some of his members were away for his daughters’ wedding in Nogshe when the violence took place. Damaturu is the big city before you reach Maiduguri when driving from Jos.
“(In) Potiskum there was an attack on churches and community but I am yet to get any full information from there.
“In Maiduguri, the main city where Boko Haram originated, (there were) several explosions at different places but there was no report of life (lost) or burning properties at the time I am writing this mail.
“Jos was very tense but to God be the glory nothing happened with the help of enough security and restricted movement for both Muslims and Christians in some areas to avoid clashes.
“We have not heard of any EYN member being killed but the wife of EYN General Secretary (Mrs. Jinatu Libra Wamdeo) lost her blood brother who was coming home from his place of work in Sokoto State. He was killed at one of the road blocks by the Islamic sect. This has touched the EYN family because the General Secretary and his wife, including workers at the EYN Headquarters and pastors, have to attend the funeral today 7th November.
“We were in Mubi after church service and after Sallah too. We visited the Emir of Mubi and we were welcomed warmly by the people at the place, and the emir himself is a peace loving man.
“Most people in Abuja celebrated Sallah in fear because of threat from the sect to destroy big hotels like the Sheraton and Hilton and other places. The government announced to the public to be careful of those areas during the Sallah celebration.
“We want to thank you for all your prayers and concern.”
For more about the work of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria go to www.brethren.org/partners/nigeria.