Open Doors is calling for urgent prayer as news breaks of Boko Haram’s execution of a kidnapped aid worker and threat to kill kidnapped Nigerian Christian teenager Leah Sharibu and two other hostages.
The Islamic extremist group recently released a video of the killing of a 25-year-old midwife with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The young woman, Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, was abducted on March 1 during an attack on the northeastern town of Rann near the Cameroon border. In the same video, reportedly a spokesperson for the group also threatens Leah Sharibu’s life.
in the video, seen by the Nigerian online magazine The Cable, the insurgents claim they had contacted the government over the captives with no response.
“We contacted the government through writing and also sent audio messages, but the government have ignored us. So, here is a message of blood,” said a group spokesman. “The other nurse and midwife will be executed in similar manner in one month, including Leah Sharibu.”
The two other female aid workers, also kidnapped in the Rann attack, are Hauwa Mohammed Liman, another midwife working for ICRC, and Alice Loksha Ngaddah, a nurse working with Unicef, and mother of two.
A New Strategy of Evil
Only three weeks ago, Boko Haram released what was believed to be a scripted audio message and photo of Leah Sharibu, who was kidnapped this year on February 13 from a school in the town of Dapchi, along with more than 100 other girls.
In the 35-second audio recording, the 15-year-old girl—the only one not released with the other kidnapped girls because she refused to denounce Christ—asked for help for her family and herself:
“I also plead to the members of the public to help my mother, my father, my younger brother and relatives,” she said in her Hausa language. “Kindly help me out of my predicament. I am begging you to treat me with compassion. I am calling on the government, particularly the President, to pity me and get me out of this serious situation. Thank you.”
According to The Cable, the proof of life was a requirement for possible renewed negotiation efforts between the government and an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria.
Emmanuel Egebe, a Nigerian activist based in the United States, said that the killing of the female aid worker, who is a Muslim, signals a shift in Boko Haram’s strategy.
“To my knowledge, this is the first execution by an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria of an aid worker for failure to respond to a demand,” he said in a statement this morning.
“an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria generally executes Christian males who refuse to convert, men and women – Christian or Muslim – who work for security services … It is contrary to Boko Haram’s rules of engagement to execute Muslim women, and when you don’t think they can sink any lower, they hit a new nadir!
Egebe noted that the Islamic group had killed United Nations diplomats and aid workers before, including Korean doctors, polio vaccinators, etc.
“However, this is the first execution for failure to meet their ransom demands. It is not clear what it is they are asking for, but whatever it is, I understand the Nigerian government declined.”
After the release of the audio message from Leah Sharibu, a government spokesperson told press: “For President Buhari, nothing will be spared in bringing all our girls home. He will not rest until all of them are freed.”
Past Pleas for Help for Leah Sharibu
On September 12, in an interview with Voice of America, Leah’s father, Nathan, said the family had not heard from a government representative since Leah’s disappearance in February and that he hadn’t heard of any plan to release his daughter from Boko Haram captivity.
“Nothing is being done that I know of. I don’t know of any plan to release her. What I know is what I get from the media. I believe they can get her from an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria if they want to help us. We are very, very sad in the family. It has been seven months since she was taken.”
At that time, both Nathan and Leah’s mother, Rebecca, publicly pleaded with Nigeria President Buhari to intervene and bring their daughter home.
“We appeal to the federal government to intensify efforts to release our girl for us,” Nathan said after the audio was released. “We appeal to the whole nation to mount pressure on them to release her for us. We don’t know what to do, and we are pained about her captivity.”
Rebecca Sharibu also made a plea: “I am pleading to Christians in high positions all over the world and to the president as she pled, she pled for help, to help her out of the situation she is in,” Rebecca said in an interview. “We too plead to the President Buhari to rescue our daughter, and we are very grateful to all the Christians in Nigeria and to all the Christians in the whole world for praying for us.”
In April when Leah realized she would not be freed with the other kidnapped girls, she quickly scribbled a message to her mother and sent it with a classmate. Rebecca shared it with one of our Open Doors team members who visited her:
“My mother you should not be disturbed,” she wrote. “ I know it is not easy missing me, but I want to assure you that I am fine where I am … I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there at the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is the only time Rebecca has heard from her daughter in unscripted text in eight months.
In its nine-year insurgency, an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria has reportedly claimed more than 20,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people.
Praying With Leah Sharibu and Her Family
We pray for God’s protection over Leah physically, mentally and spiritually, and for His grace to comfort her. Ask God to reveal to her a vision of His army of angels as they surround her. For His glory and her good!
We pray for strength–that Leah would be reminded of Your promise never to leave or forsake her. We pray for Your words to flow through her mind.
We pray for peace. We pray for calmness of spirit that only God can provide. Ask God to give Leah and her family enduring patience, to place peace that passes all our understanding in their hearts and as others see that peace, many will come to know Christ.
We pray for a bold witness. Ask God to be Leah’s light in this darkness and make her life a living testimony. May her witness be so profound to her captors’ eyes, ears and hearts that they would be opened to the truth.
We pray for comfort. Ask God to be tangibly close to Leah and her family–that His presence would give them peace, comfort, strength, faith, and even joy as they set their eyes on Him.
We pray for rescue. Pray that God would open closed doors to bring Leah and the rest of the captives home. Ask God to work a miracle so divine that it would astound her captors and lead many of them to Him. We ask that her captors’ eyes might be open to the heavenly realm and the myriad of angels surrounding Leah.
We pray for the women hostages with Leah. Remember them by name as you pray with the Sharibus: Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Alice Loksha Ngaddah.
We pray for the family of the executed midwife, a mother of two. Ask God to comfort her husband and children as they learn of this news and possibly see the video.
We pray for the Nigerian government and President Buhari–that they will be convicted to work diligently and do all they can to release all hostages. Pray that the international community will not remain silent on this, but will assist the government to fulfill their responsibilities towards these citizens.
In Your Son’s name, we pray and ask for these things… #RememberLeah
Open Doors has followed the Sharibus’ story from day one of the Dapchi kidnappings and will continue to report on this developing story. Read our previous reports here:
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