By Zakariya Musa
The president of EYN (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, the Church of the Brethren Nigeria) Samuel D. Dali, met with parents of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted on April 14. EYN, a world known peace church, operates largely in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States in Nigeria, where a state of emergency has been in place for over a year.
Chibok, a Christian dominated area, and the only of the 27 Local Governments in Borno State that pays CRK teachers salary, is a place where the Church of the Brethren Mission station was opened by Ira S. Petre in 1931.
The 58 parents who met the denominational leader are just some of the parents of the 234 missing schoolgirls. Evangelist Matthew Owojaiya of the Old Time Revival Hour Church in Kaduna has published a list of 180 girls abducted from the Secondary School in Chibok, showing 165 to be Christian girls and 15 to be Muslim girls.
“I abducted your girls,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubbakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.
As we got to the church in Chibok, an EYN district official who welcomed the president’s team seated the parent, those whose houses were burnt, as well as the pastors present in three separate rows. “We are just here to cry with you,” said EYN general secretary Jinatu Wamdeo, who introduce the entourage to the gathering.
EYN’s president speaks with the parents
“God knows where they (the girls) are, so we hope that one day they will be freed,” said EYN president Samuel Dali. “The entire world is crying with us on this pain. This might be a reason to end this situation. We have hope because God is with them.
“Be sure that evil doers will not see a good end. This is not our will but God’s own judgment. Let’s continue persevering in our patience, and stand firm on our faith in God. You know that we have no government, because if you cry [out] they will beat you back, so only God will save us in this country,” Dali continued.
“Today when we send out workers as a church, it’s like we are sending them to the grave. Sometime I ask myself why I came in this time, but God knows. May God help you and strengthen your faith.”
One of the parents thanked the leaders of the church on their behalf. He said they are sure that we have no government because none of the Senators, House of Representatives, or chairmen came to greet the parents like this, despite their security. You are here with no single security personnel behind you but God is with you [he told the church leaders]. He also called on church members to keep obeying their pastors, of whom he said: “They are standing by us since these occurrences.”
Parents remember the day of the abduction
[Talking about the day of the abduction] the parents said that there were signals that the girls should be sent home [from the school] but some staff took it as speculation and [decided] the girls should stay at their hostel. According to one parent who doesn’t want his name mentioned, on their arrival the sect seized a loaded truck at a market place and offloaded it before driving to the secondary school, where they asked the girls many questions before parading them to the truck, saying that they wanted to protect them from a Boko Haram attack.
One of the girls, aged 15, who escaped from the kidnappers, said, “We stopped at one place to eat but I refused to eat. They told us that we’ll proceed to Sambisa the following morning. They told us that they are taking us there to teach us Qur’an. We are three who escaped at [that] time.”
Within the week, reports from Gwoza areas in Borno State said the attackers took action at their will, killed a church secretary and a village head at Zamga, a village head at Jubrilli, a pastor’s son at Arboko, and a church member at Ashigashiya, where they went house-to-house fetching properties of those who ran away for safety. An EYN pastor abducted three weeks ago is still missing while another three youths from the area were killed. The [Boko Haram] group claimed responsibility for attacks on many public buildings, churches, mosques, Muslims and non-Muslims, leaders and followers.
In many areas people no longer sleep in their houses. “We sleep in bush,” they said.
To the government [the parents said]: “They say they are trying to save the 234 girls but we don’t know what is going on. We are confused.”
The federal government has opened up to receive international help to rescue the nearly 300 Chibok and Warabe girls.
Alhaji Kabiru Turaki, chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North, in July 2013 defended the ceasefire agreement signed with Boko Haram, saying the federal government interacted with authentic members of the Islamic militia.
The sect said it lost confidence in the government, and therefore abandoned the dialogue, which some people see as the right channel to end the war. The sect also demands the release of its detained members.
EYN leaders bring relief funds
The EYN president presented some tokens of money to the 58 parents to assist them to return to their homes, and handed over the sum of N30,000.00 to the five District Church Council (DCC) officials for the affected members at the various districts. The five DCCs–Chibok, Mbalala, Balgi, Kautikari, and Askira–also suffered from the insurgents’ activities since 2009.
The former secretary of the EYN Ministers Council and chairman of the EYN Relief Committee, Amos Duwala, encouraged that “if there is a beginning there must be also an end to every situation.”
Special prayers were offered for peace in the country, for the release of the abducted, for comfort to the parents, for provision to the displaced, condolence to those who lost their relatives, for the government to be just, and for the insurgents to change their mind.
— Zakariya Musa is secretary of “Sabon Haske,” a publication of EYN.